1977 Patti LaBelle – Patti Labelle

Patti LaBelle is the debut solo album by singer Patti LaBelle, released in 1977. The first album LaBelle recorded after sixteen years fronting the band Labelle (formerly Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles), it is notable for the dance hit, “Joy to Have Your Love”, the classic gospel-inspiring ballad, “You Are My Friend” and the Angelo “Funky Knuckles” Nocentelli mid-tempo number, “I Think About You”.

Prior to recording the album, LaBelle initially thought of retiring from the music industry after nearly twenty years as the lead singer of the hugely successful girl group Labelle. Following the group’s March 1977 split, brought on by months of growing tension, LaBelle and her husband of then eight years, Armstead Edwards, went to see a shrink over emotional distress in their marriage, which was partially due to the singer’s fright over continuing a career without her group members. After further evaluation, LaBelle and her husband sorted out their differences. Edwards was then hired by his wife to be her manager as she carefully plotted her solo career. The singer traveled to New Orleans to record her new album, with David Rubinson, producer of Labelle’s final album prior to their initial breakup, Chameleon, and also famed for his work with the Pointer Sisters.

Signing a solo contract with Epic Records, Labelle’s former label, the singer released her debut album in October 1977. While the debuting single, “Joy to Have Your Love”, became a minor R&B hit, and the dance number, “Dan Swit Me”, was popular on the dance club circuit, the album’s most notable song was a ballad co-composed by LaBelle, Edwards and LaBelle’s musical director, James “Budd” Ellison, initially dedicated to LaBelle’s and Edwards’ only biological son, Zuri (who is now LaBelle’s manager), titled “You Are My Friend”. While the song only scaled the high sixties on the Billboard R&B chart, it soon became one of her famous show-stoppers while performing the song. LaBelle performed the song at her first solo concert in London, getting a standing ovation, which helped to give LaBelle motivation to continue her career. The album, when released, performed successfully, reaching number 62 on the Billboard 200 and number 31 on the R&B albums chart, while critics hailed the album.

Tracks

1  Joy To Have Your Love (Jeffrey Cohen, Ray Parker Jr, Budd Ellison) 5:45
2  Funky Music (Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield) 6:24
3 Since I Don’t Have You (Wally Lester, Joe VerScharen, Joseph Rock, James Beaumont, Jackie Taylor) 5:41
4  Dan Swit Me (Jeffrey Cohen, Ray Parker Jr, David Rubinson, Armstead Edwards) 5:50
5  You Are My Friend (Patti LaBelle, Budd Ellison, Armstead Edwards) 4:37
6  You Can’t Judge A Book By His Cover (Willie Dixon) 4:23
7  I Think About You (Angelo Nocentelli) 4:30
8  Do I Stand A Chance (Patti LaBelle, Budd Ellison, Armstead Edwards) 4:22
9  Most Likely You Go Your Way (Bob Dylan) 6:43

Media

Musicians

BassDavid Shields
BassGeorge Porter Jr
BassMac Cridlin
BassRay Parker Jr
DrumsJames Gadson
GuitarRay Parker Jr
GuitarLeo Nocentelli
KeyboardsJames Ellison
KeyboardsLeo Nocentelli
ClarinetBill Napier
French HornAttilio De Palma
French HornSidney Muldrow
SaxGary Herbig
SaxJohn Phillips
SaxKurt McGettrick
TromboneGordon Messick
TromboneLew McCreary
TrumpetGary Grant
TrumpetOscar Brashear
TrumpetZane Woodworth
TubaJames Self
Background VocalsJames Gadson
Background VocalsNorma Harris
Background VocalsRay Parker Jr
Background VocalsRosie Casals
Background VocalsSherri Barman
Background VocalsYvonne Fair

Other Musicians

Strings – Carl Pedersen, Ellen Dessler, Emily Van Valkenburgh, John Tenney, Kazi Pitelka, Mary Anne Meredith, Melinda Ross, Mischa Myers, Nancy Ellis, Ruth Freeman, Stephen Gehl, Terri Sternberg, Theresa Madden, Thomas Elliot
Strings (Contractor) – Teresa Adams

Liner Notes

Producer (Associate) – Jeffrey Cohen
Arranged By (Brass) – Kurt McGettrick
Arranged By (Orchestra), Conductor – Bob Manchurian, Dale Warren
Arranged By (Vocals) – David Rubinson, Patti Labelle
Arranged By, Producer – David Rubinson & Friends, Inc.
Concertmaster (Strings) – Nathan Rubin
Directed By (Musical Director) – James Budd Ellison
Engineer – David Rubinson, Fred Catero
Engineer (Assistant) – Chris Minto, Terry Becker
Engineer (Mastering) – George Horn

Phonographic Copyright (p) – CBS Inc.
Recorded At – The Automatt
Recorded At – The Village Recorder
Mixed At – The Automatt