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Lady Marmalade: The Best of Patti and Labelle

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The concept behind Lady Marmalade: The Best of Patti and LaBelle is to draw eight tracks apiece from LaBelle's chart heyday as a group and the first five years (1977-1982) of Patti LaBelle's solo career, which she spent with Epic. Is it a worthwhile summation? That depends on what you're looking for. The LaBelle tracks constitute a serviceable overview, featuring their four chart hits ("Lady Marmalade," the R&B Top Ten "What Can I Do for You?," "Get You Somebody New," and "Isn't It a Shame"); actually, the more extensive Something Silver compilation doesn't have them all. Plus, there are four songs written or co-written by Nona Hendryx, an important component of their repertoire. All that's missing, really, are the group's early rock covers, many of which are collected on Something Silver. The Patti LaBelle solo tracks date from a part of her career that isn't usually spotlighted on other compilations, and constitute some of the funkiest material she recorded. However, the selections here are missing a few minor R&B chart hits; the similarly skimpy 1982 compilation The Best of Patti LaBelle -- also eight tracks -- includes all of them. That flaw aside, it's most likely the LaBelle group material you're after, and so far this is the best place to get it.

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