Patti LaBelle is one of those artists that I know was big in the past, but has not really done anything earthshaking since I became cognizant of music. For those that do not know, LaBelle started out as a singer for the Bluebelles, changed their name to Labelle, and then broke free from the rest of the pack starting in 1976. From 1962 to 1993, LaBelle charted tens of songs, before going into a state where a released song would chart briefly and then fall back down the charts. Individuals that are looking for a quicker LaBelle song would do best to avoid this CD: as the title suggests, what is present are a number of ballads taken throughout specific periods in eir career.
There is a song that features LaBelle, just as there is a duet with the 40 Year Old Virgin’s favorite, Michael McDonald. Also present in LaBelle’s first major solo hit, “I Don’t Go Shopping”. Essentially, the idea behind this CD is smart; it is a collection of songs in a specific genre done by an artist that has too many tracks to make a single “greatest hits” collection anything more than disappointing. By going and limiting the style of tracks on the disc, LaBelle and Sony are able to provide hits of greater and lesser levels of fame under the ballad framework.
While the disc is only attractive to those that are already fans of LaBelle or of easy listening music in general, the cohesion present on the disc is what really shocks me. As has been said, the tracks present on this disc were pulled from a number of different discs. Owing to a smart compiler/producer ( Leo Sacks), there seems to be a narrative that is present during this disc. This makes merely a greatest hits collection into something more than its constituent parts. LaBelle may only come out with albums sporadically, but this collection will do well tiding fans over until that time when LaBelle can cut eir next album. I may not be a big fan of these recordings or the style of music that LaBelle inculcates eirself in, but I have no doubt that come the next Valentine’s Day, that this disc will rightfully be flying off of the shelves. Give it a go if you are a fan, or like the ballad style as a specific art form; if not, just avoid this album and stick to your rock, punk, rap, or whatever it Is you listen to.
Top Tracks: Love And Learn, Quiet Time
Patti LaBelle – Beautiful Ballads / 2006 Sony / 13 Tracks / http://www.legacyrecordings.com / Reviewed 07 May 2007