Miss Denise Lasalle
“Listen – Keep It Coming – MP3″
I hope all is well on your end.
Here in NJ things have suddenly returned to a wholly appropriate freezing (after a couple of weeks of sometimes freakishly unseasonal temperatures). Here at the Funky16Corners compound, we’ve snuggled in – though we’re still unwilling to light up the fireplace with a toddler in the house – attempting to recuperate from the previous week so that we may embark upon the week to come, like some kind of life-sized Moebius strip that folds back in on itself over, and over, and OVER again.
This of course is cool, as I can’t think of a group of humans that I’d rather circle the sun with, but sometimes the workaday, long-term energy deficit brings to mind all manner of existential considerations. Are our efforts like those of Sisyphus (oddly enough invoked in one of this years Superbowl ads) or are we supposed to be looking beyond the repetitive framework of our lives?
The answer – if you have kids – is yes. No matter how little you’re able to get a handle on your own passage through time, it’s impossible to miss it if you have two small boys (getting less small everyday) in the house, especially as they reach those frequent kid milestones (crawling, speaking etc).
Though I’ve spent much of my creative life dwelling on the past (this blog being a significant example thereof) for the first time in my life I find myself occasionally preoccupied with the future. The real challenge is to push that into the background and to savor what’s happening in the moment – to borrow a phrase from Ram Dass – to ‘be here now’, so that you get to savor all of those milestones and not end up like that poor slob in the Harry Chapin song.
So, there’s your weekly dose of introspection.
Hows about some soul?
My last significant digging expedition yielded a grip of quality stuff, much of which has been (and will continue to be) featured in this space. One of my favorite things about getting out to wallow around in great heaving piles of vinyl – especially when it’s available at a bargain price – is that I’m confronted with the vastness of musical history. I spend most of what free time I have exploring music, especially soul, and I’m not ashamed to admit that after these many years there I still have a lot to learn.
That’s why, when I’m flipping through boxes of records, and I see a record by an artists whose name is familiar – but whose music is not – I like to stop and check it out.
One such artist is Denise Lasalle.
I’ve probably known her name for more than 30 years – she had her first hits in the early 70’s – yet I can’t say that I’d ever really heard any of her music. Until, that is, that recent dig, when I pulled today’s selection out of a box of 45s, gave it a spin and tossed it in the “keeper” pile.
Lasalle – born Denise Craig in 1939 in Mississippi – moved to Chicago and recorded her first record for the Tarpon label in 1967. She soon founded the Crajon label with her husband Bill Jones, and went on to write for a number of artists (she penned Bill Coday’s ‘Get Your Lie Straight’ which was featured in a recent installment of Funky16Corners Radio) before being signed to the Westbound label in 1971.
Lasalle and Jones had been doing much of their work for Crajon in Memphis, Tennessee, and she returned there – working with the mighty Willie Mitchell – to record ‘Keep It Coming’.
Before I started to get my Google on (or read the label, duh..), in fact the very first time I spun this record on my portable, I knew this had to be a Willie Mitchell side. ‘Keep It Coming’ is covered in his sonic fingerprints, combining a strong horn chart and a deep, deep groove. Mitchell provided a superior backing for Lasalle’s rich, soulful vocals. It’s the kind of solid, southern soul that was rapidly falling out of fashion by the early 70′s. Interestingly enough, ‘Keep It Coming’ is actually the flipside of her first big hit, ‘Trapped by a Thing Called Love’ which was a Top 40 hit in many markets in the Fall of 1971.
Lasalle stayed with Westbound until 1973, when she left the label and moved to Memphis. She hit that charts again in the mid-70’s for ABC, moving on to MCA, then Malaco (in the 80’s) as both writer and performer.
These days, she’s returned to her gospel roots, and owns a number of radio stations with her current husband.
I hope you dig the tune.
PS Big ups to Amy Winehouse for her big Grammy wins, and a pretty self-assured performance for someone rumored to be on the brink of dissolution.