Labi Siffre

Remember My Song

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Highly sought after fifth album, until a 2006 reissue program made nearly all of Labi Siffre's '70s releases more readily available. Its erstwhile status was derived from crate-digging hip-hop fans, obviously trying to get their hands on the source material for Eminem's "My Name Is." Their curiosity might have been further induced by stumbling on the third volume of Capitol Rare, a compilation EMI released in 1999. Next to introducing the world to the obscure Swedish soul belter Doris Svensson and a couple of David Axelrod oddities, the compilation included another killer groove from Remember My Song in "The Vulture." Having tasted the goods, some beat heads were apparently willing to offer up to 250 GBP for a mint copy. They were in for a surprise, as the album spawns two very different identities: one being the big orchestrated funky production of mentioned songs, while the other turns out to be mellow singer/songwriter stuff. The sequencing of the funky and folksy is another confusing characteristic of this album. Kicking off the vinyl's original A-side with "I Got The," for the next three songs there's not a break in sight. Musical styles and personal tastes notwithstanding, the albums second half holds a few unexpected gems. As it blasts off with "The Vulture," the infectious "Sadie and the Devil," and the irresistible "Turn on Your Love" make this side overall more enduring. Formerly just another guitar supported singer/songwriter backed by the occasional string arrangement, Siffre's fully fledged band approach makes a remarkable difference. In its more rewarding moments Remember My Song improves on the occasional funky backdrop of selections from the singer's preceding albums, most notably "A Little More Line" and "Gimme Some More." Some ace musicians came to Siffre's aid: session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan took duties on lead guitar as well as co-producing, Brian Bennett of the Shadows on drums, and Chas & Dave who would become well known in their own right. Considering these players, it's surprising the album wasn't more heavily promoted. The imprint Mr. Bongo was the first to stop it from reveling in obscurity, predating the reissue program by eight years. The Music of Labi Siffre from 2001 is in fact a back-to-back reissue of this album and Happy, a second, more pop-oriented album from 1975 with different musicians. Curiously, the latter wasn't part of the reissue program.

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