Back to Now

Back to Now

4.0 3
by Labelle

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Given the state of reunion albums, the average rate of success is usually one in ten if that; ergo, Labelle's first offering since 1976's Nightbirds could have been a stone disaster. It's not; in fact, it's far from it. The trio of Nona Hendryx, Patti Labelle, and See more details below


Given the state of reunion albums, the average rate of success is usually one in ten if that; ergo, Labelle's first offering since 1976's Nightbirds could have been a stone disaster. It's not; in fact, it's far from it. The trio of Nona Hendryx, Patti Labelle, and Sarah Dash assembled a crew of kickin' producers with real pedigrees: Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Lenny Kravitz (is there a bigger retro boss?), Kit Lambert and Hendryx. The one nod to the kids (who probably won't get it anyway) is the Wyclef Jean-produced leavin' jam "Rollout," on which he appears (why on earth he felt he needed to place AutoTune on a Labelle record is beyond imagination -- it's irritating to vintage fans). That isn't to say this is a set of old-school sounding production, but more that the updated sound feels more organic and warm, and thank God the disc is not loaded with guest appearances or ham-fisted duets. Some cuts are a little obvious, such as "The Truth Will Set You Free," with its 1970s anthemic socio-political "us" vibe -- but if 2008 isn't the year of African-American empowerment, with Barack Obama being elected the 44th president of the United States, then there isn't one. Better are the drenched-in-strings soul groovers like "Candlelight" that opens the set. When the backing vocals kick in on the chorus and bridge, it's like it's 32 years ago! Yes, really. "Dear Rosa," with Ronnie Drayton on his subtle but funky wah-wah guitar phrasing, sets up a powerful anthemic tribute to Rosa Parks. Add that B-3 and it sends chills. Dexter Wansel arranged "Tears for the World," that features amazing vocal performances even if its lyrics leave a bit to be desired. The closing cut is Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets," produced by Lambert. This is a surprise, because it was actually recorded 38 years ago and features performances by the late Keith Moon on drums and the late Nicky Hopkins on piano! That said, it sounds seamless when juxtaposed with the other tracks on the set. Vocally, this trio hasn't slipped a notch -- particularly Labelle. Indeed Back to Now exceeds expectations and will no doubt satisfy most fans of the trio's fantasies and hopefully -- thanks to the ultra sleek "Rollout" -- hook a few new ones to boot.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Leah Greenblatt
An admirably solid collection of midtempo soul burners. [B+]
New York Daily News - Jim Farber
It's been over three decades since this great African-American rock-soul act brayed out a salute to "Lady Marmalade" and made pop history. That's a lot to live up to for Patti, Nona and Sarah. To help smooth their return, they've got no less a talent than producers Gamble and Huff (and, oh yes, Lenny Kravitz, too).

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Labelle   Primary Artist
Lenny Kravitz   Bass,Guitar,Drums,Tambourine,Clavinet,Hand Clapping,Vibraslap,Vibes,Cabasa
Patti LaBelle   Vocals,Group Member
Nona Hendryx   Vocals,Group Member
Sarah Dash   Vocals,Group Member
Nicky Hopkins   Piano
Keith Moon   Drums
Dexter Wansel   Conductor
Davis A. Barnett   Viola
Randy Bowland   Guitar
Karen Brunon   Violin
Jay Davidson   Flute,Tenor Saxophone
Doc Gibbs   Percussion
Dennis Harris   Guitar
Henry Hirsch   Piano
Leon Huff   Piano,Keyboards
Kevin Johnson   Drums
Joseph Joubert   Piano,Keyboards
Eddie Martinez   Guitar
Warren McRae   Bass Guitar
Hubert Salou   Horn Engineer
Don Wyatt   Piano,fender rhodes
Harold Todd   Flute,Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Jean-Philippe Audin   Cello
Wyclef Jean   Guitar,Vocals
Keith Benson   Drums
Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis   Bass
Olga Konopelsky   Violin
Emma Kummrow   Violin
Igor Szwec   Violin
Gregory Teperman   Violin
Mark Ward   Cello
Herve Cavelier   Violin
Darrett Adkins   Cello
Jeanne Lancien   Violin
Patrice Mondon   Violin
Conway Kuo   Violin
Keith Fluitt   Background Vocals
Nina Cottman   Viola
Steve Jordan   Drums
Françoise Gneri   Viola
Steven "Steven J." Jordan   Drums
John Stanley   Keyboards,Background Vocals
Arden Altino   Keyboards
Sylvain Gontard   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Keyontia Hawkins   Background Vocals
Mike A. Jarosz   Trumpet
Doug DeHays   Trombone,Baritone Saxophone
Luigi Mazzocchi   Violin
Brent White   Flute,Trombone,Baritone Saxophone
Christophe Deneulin   Alto Saxophone
Wilson Jaramillo   Guitar
Sebastien Llado   Trombone
Warren MacRae   Bass Guitar
Rashida Minnett   French Horn
Lise Orivel   Viola
Christophe Panzani   Tenor Saxophone
Craig Ross   Guitar
Doug DeHayes   Baritone Saxophone
Henry McMillan   Trumpet
Jerry Duplessir   Bass Guitar
John Stanely   Background Vocals
Ronny Drayton   Guitar
Matt Gallagher   Trumpet
Charles Parker   Violin

Technical Credits

Lenny Kravitz   Producer,Horn Arrangements,String Arrangements,rhythm arrangement,Audio Production
Patti LaBelle   Author
Nona Hendryx   Producer,Audio Production
Dexter Wansel   Arranger,Horn Conductor,String Conductor
Kenny Gamble   Producer,Audio Production
Derek Green   Transposition
Henry Hirsch   Engineer
Leon Huff   Producer,Audio Production
Bill Jolly   Arranger,String Conductor
Kit Lambert   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Tommy Uzzo   Engineer
Howie Weinberg   Mastering
Craig White   Engineer
Vicki Wickham   Executive Producer,Audio Production
Jean-Philippe Audin   Contributor
Wyclef Jean   Producer,Audio Production
Donna Ranieri   Photo Production
Hollis King   Art Direction
Jerry "Wonda" Duplessis   Producer
Cyrille Taillandier   Digital Editing
Arden Altino   Programming
Sylvia Grieser   Costume Design
Kevin Hahn   overdub engineer
Ken Reynolds   Executive Producer
Carlos DeLos Santos Sánchez   Engineer
Zuri Edwards   Executive Producer,Audio Production
Mikal Hameed   Prop Stylist
Byl Holte   Author
Jerry Duplessir   Audio Production
Kenneth Reynolds   Audio Production

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