PATTI LABELLE — LaBelle ‎: Pressure Cookin' (review)

PATTI LABELLE — LaBelle ‎: Pressure Cookin' album cover Album · 1973 · Jazz Related RnB Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
It was still a bit of struggle in the late sixties for Patti Labelle at this time to gain much acceptance after the limited success of Patti Labelle and The Blue Belles with one hit and a couple of minor ones, Girl Groups seemed to heading towards a dead-end and then Cindy Birdsong in 1967 from the original four girl line up decided to join the Supremes and to top it off Atlantic Records a year later dumped the band. Patti Labelle contacted Vicki Wickham from London, television producer and booking agent for a British R&B show who herself had always been a fan but realising the band’s current style was just old hat knew they needed to change. She contacted Chris Stamp co owner of Track Records who also was managing the Rock Band The Who during this current period and was taken by Vicki to see the band at The Apollo who signed them after being quite impressed with what he had heard and seen. First up the band’s name was changed to Labelle much to Patti Labelle’s angst with even more to come for her when it was decided that the old material was to be binned with more Rock and Contemporary material to becomes the band’s music. Still it wasn’t long before Patti Labelle realised they were heading in the right direction after the great receptions the band started to get from audiences with the new style as well as being the opening act for The Who, Sly And The Family Stone, Nina Simone and touring with Mandrill. Two albums were cut with Warner Records, “Gonna Take A Miracle” and “Moonshadow” with limited success and then the move came to Nina Simone’s label RCA where more Soul was injected to the band’s sound with Vicki Wickham producing in “Pressure Cookin’ “. The black soul-rock band Maxayn with a conga player were used to back the band on this record bringing forth a much tighter sound garnering this album great critical reviews but still limited success and although that may be so, this one was the main stepping stone to international fame which would follow for them when Epic Records and Allen Toussaint become involved with their next album “Nightbirds”

“Pressure Cookin’ “ the album’s title gets things going with a Funk backing for this politically charged number for this period in time with the Vietnam War, Black Equality and Watergate being the main drivers behind it with track two interlinking being a Medley comprising Thunder Clap Newman’s hit “Something In the Air” combined with Gil Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and things are kept tight and funky with some great conga input backing “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” component with Labelle delivering it with more of a spoken word similar to Gil’s original take. “Sunshine (Woke Me Up This Morning)” is Funk injected with some great Wah Wah guitar under riding it all. It’s a ballad for “Can I Speak To You Before I Go To Hollywood” concerning old friends in the industry where once fame had reached them no longer seem available. “Mr Music Man” brings the Rock to the fore on the fast moving tune. “Goin’ On A Holiday” having one gorgeous Bass underpinning with a great hitting the notes vocal from Patti and the girls. “Let Me See You In The Light” is a delightful Soul based number with more of that great conga underneath. “Open Up Your Heart” and let me in and it sure does for this thumpin’ mid tempo Funk number with some great backing vocals for Patti’s lead. The lovely ballad “Last Dance” concludes proceedings with both ballads as good as each other that were incorporated within the album.

Really good album. If you loved “Nightbirds” the following and have not heard this one, you better get it!
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