"Lady Marmalade" boasts one of the great soul-funk grooves of all time, but it's more than just a groove, no matter how irresistible it may be. No, "Lady Marmalade," as written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, is a full-fledged song, one that tells a story with great hooks, an indelible melody, and a rhythm so funky and elemental it seems like it's always been there. The quality of the song is proven by its resilience -- it's been covered many times, by man different kinds of artists, and it always sounds good. That's true of the O'Jays' faithful soul version or Herbie Mann's fusion reading; that's true of the gritty soul-blues covers of Willis "Gator" Jackson and Irma Thomas, or the sleek dance-pop of Brit-pop divas All Saints. In any incarnation, "Lady Marmalade" sounds good, but in the hands of Labelle, it was indisputably great. The vocal trio, led by Patti Labelle and featuring Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash, certainly have a lot to do with the record's success, since their unbridled soul has never sounded better than it does here. But the real reason that the record is so incendiary is producer Allen Toussaint, who made sure that the song had the loose, dirty, organic funk groove of New Orleans soul -- and probably had New Orleans superstars the Meters play it in the studio, as well. Even if it wasn't the Meters on the recording, the groove is every bit as good as anything they played, and it was the true signature of "Lady Marmalade," even more so than Labelle's vocals. After all, once the record begins with the deep, soulful bass and syncopated drums, you're completely pulled into the record and can't stop listening until it's finished. Of course, that's the reason why some may think that its success is based solely on performance, not writing, but the overall strength of the covers certainly suggests otherwise.