Labelle “Phoenix” LP (1975)
Details: Labelle’s fifth album released on Epic in 1975. Moving away from soul-funk towards more rock sound. VG only (visible scuffs/scratches but still a fun listen!
Description: “Though the new day had dawned long before, Nightbirds completed the transformation. Phoenix turned it out.
“See how she dances”
Produced by Allen Toussaint, with Vicki Wickham and Don Puluse handling the album’s mixing, Phoenix improved on the elements that made Nightbirds such a revelation. The funk is harder, the songs have a stronger personality, and the layering of the vocals is more dynamic.
… The sparse piano and guitar introduction on the opening title track, in particular, has always been upstaged by the natural wear and tear of vinyl. Here, its beauty rings clear as Hendryx and Dash usher in the song’s prelude.
Penned by Hendryx, “Phoenix (The Amazing Flight of a Lone Star)”, sets the listener on a unique excursion, replete with dramatic pauses that stoke anticipation, then release a torrent of music fire. Labelle flourishes in a format that goes beyond the typical three-minute pop song. “We’ve allgot to go like we’ve come /Before or after the sun“, they exclaim. It’s the quintessential Labelle harmony, built around a vocal and musical arrangement that grips the listener with each passing second. To hear Dash gently sing “rise phoenix” before unleashing a full-throttled “R-i-i-i-ISE!”, or to bear witness to Patti LaBelle wrapping her voice around the word “flight” in ways that defy explanation, is what makes “Phoenix” not only the most compelling song on the album (you’ll find yourself listening to it repeatedly to relish such isolated moments), but one of the highlights of Labelle’s career.
Sustaining the vocal acrobatics, “Slow Burn” and “Black Holes in the Sky” showcase the superiority of Labelle’s band. The latter features a dreamy string section and a brief flourish of flutes. Each closer listen reveals another morsel of music that may not be evident the first or second time. Even without the voices, which are no less than remarkable, this pair of cuts would retain a galvanizing power as instrumentals.“—PopMatters
“Phoenix is the fifth album by American singing trio Labelle. The album was moderately successful peaking at #44 on the pop charts and #10 on the R&B charts. The album is most notable for drifting away from the funk style of their previous album, Nightbirds, most of the album taking on a rock approach.”
Grade: VG (Record/Cover)
TRACK LISTING SIDE A:
A1. Phoenix (The Amazing Flight Of A Lone-Star)
A2. Slow Burn
A3. Black Holes In The Sky
A4. Good Intentions
A5. Far As We Felt Like Goin’
TRACK LISTING SIDE B:
B1. Messin’ With My Mind
B2. Chances Go Round
B3. Cosmic Dancer
B4. Take The Night Off
B5. Action Time