Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Patti LaBelle-Gems (1994)


ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 8, 2015

It's a good thing I treated myself to a listen—er, make that four or five listens; I lost count, actually—to that Pamela Williams jazz interpretation of "Secret Garden" yesterday; it renewed my interest in listening to more of vintage Patti LaBelle. So I promptly got the notion to pull out one of her albums from my soul collection and to share it here with the rest of the "Music Spectrum" family tonight. 1994's "Gems" is probably one of Patti's overlooked albums from that decade, but just as the simple title says, this album is indeed full of gems! Well, anytime the amazing voice of Ms. Patti LaBelle is the star of the show, you can expect exactly that! Not overlooked over time, however, is the one hit that continues to get so much airplay on the contemporary r&b stations: "The Right Kinda Lover". Heard this jam a zillion times, and it's a joy each and every time hearing Patti's big n' bold voice proclaiming 'good ole man is what I got' and 'sho nuff, he's got the stuff' (my two favorite lines from the lyrics) alongside the upbeat rhythm. Something that I myself overlooked the first time I was aware of this album: "All This Love". Hadn't paid attention to the title, either, but if I had, then it wouldn't have taken me almost a full minute into the song for me to realize Patti was doing a modern soul cover of DeBARGE's memorable 1983 hit. Very little of the magic and sweetness of the original is lost here on Patti's remake, if any. With my mind having been all wrapped up in jazz the past few days, I have to mention some of my favorite jazzy moments embedded within these "Gems": the light trumpet accompanying the bouncy beat to "This Word Is All", the opening overtures to "Stay In My Corner" and the jazzing up all throughout "I Can't Tell My Heart What To Do". The latter two, in fact, aren't just gems; they're dazzling diamonds —both marvelously mellow and emotional with exceptionally great backup vocals and stunningly soaring and piercing vocals by Patti, the former having a bluesy sway that I really like (I love how the backup singers deliver the line 'just a kiss from you' with a momentary pause between each word). "If I Didn't Have You" isn't as jazzed up, but it sure is a dazzling diamond moment on this album as well. Then it's the real blues classy Patti style and her amazing voice that entertain you on the tenth track. 'Time will tell if the spell will last forever', is how the main line in the lyrics goes, that spell being whatever has got her and the one whom she loves caught up in a love affair. And topping everything off in grand fashion is the concluding cut, "Come As You Are". Well, most albums, of course, tend to end in grand fashion, but this song goes way over and beyond to ensure that you get an epic musical journey that you'll never forget: the soulful backing choir, the inspirational words, the monumental production and that versatile Ms. Patti LaBelle who can go from singing softly and gently to powerful and show-stopping on the fly.....

1. I'm In Love
2. All This Love
3. The Right Kinda Lover
4. This Word Is All
5. Too Good To Be Through
6. I Never Stopped Loving You
7. Stay In My Corner
8. If I Didn't Have You
9. I Can't Tell My Heart What To Do
10. Time Will Tell
11. Our World
12. Come As You Are

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