Patti LaBelle

The Best of Patti LaBelle [Epic]

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Many of these songs appear on other Patti Labelle solo compilations, but this hits package covering the singer's 1977-1982 Epic sides stands out for its inclusion of the huge Labelle hit "Lady Marmalade." The 1974, Allen Touissant-produced classic was arguably Labelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash's finest hour and a wonder to behold from the funk and early-disco confluence of the mid-'70s. Appropriately, this blockbuster kicks the album off, fitting in well with disco and Philly soul tracks like "Joy to Have Your Love" and "It's All Right With Me." Switching gears, Labelle slows things down with the gospel-imbued ballads "You Are My Friend" and "I Don't Go Shopping." And save for the overlong and limp disco manifesto "Music Is My Way of Life," the record holds up quite well over the course of its nine songs. While this skimpy offering will certainly appeal to fans in need of just an overview of Labelle's Epic period, those looking for more thorough compilations should check out Sony's Love Songs or even the greatest-hits package of her later MCA sides.

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