Labelle

Moon Shadow

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These days, very few A&R people at major labels have the patience to really develop an artist; if an album doesn't sell, the artist will most likely be dropped. A lot of smaller independents are still willing to stick around for several albums if they believe in the artist, but because major labels have such high overhead, their A&R people often believe that sticking with an artist through several modest sellers is a luxury they cannot afford. And that's a tragedy because a lot of potential goes unrealized; imagine how much poorer 1970s R&B would have been if Earth, Wind & Fire, LTD, the O'Jays, the Gap Band, or Funkadelic had called it quits because their first album wasn't a million seller. Those artists needed time to develop, as did Labelle. It took Labelle (as opposed to Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles) several albums to make the transition from decent to remarkable, and the trio was hardly an overnight sensation. What was true of 1971's Labelle is also true of 1972's Moon Shadow; this LP isn't as conceptually brilliant as Nightbirds, Phoenix, and Chameleon would be, but it's a solid, heartfelt effort that is never short on guts. Whether the threesome is embracing songs by Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash or giving the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and Cat Stevens' "Moon Shadow" sweaty soul makeovers, this gospel-drenched LP is about as gritty as it gets.

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