DENISE LASALLE: A Little Bit Naughty (Label: Shout)

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DENISE LASALLE: A Little Bit Naughty

Feisty Mississippian, Denies LaSalle never quite made it to soul’s premier league but over a long and distinguished career (she’s still recording, by the way) the lady’s built up a considerable fan base. Most of those fans will point to Denise’s work at Westbound and much later at Malaco as the twin pinnacles of her art. In between, however, she was signed to ABC – which later morphed into MCA – and her output for both those imprints was considerable. This new double CD, 24 tracker (compiled by soul veteran Clive Richardson) pulls together the best of Denise’s ABC and MCA recordings and even the briefest listen will reveal that much of what she cut for those labels rivals her very best and stylistically (with the odd aberration) it matches her signature sound. That’s to say it’s that wonderful southern mix of store front preaching, good time grooving and getting it on with whoever you can get it on with – all laced, of course, with the passion of soul, the depth of the blues and even the honesty of country. Highspots? Well there’s plenty. 1976’s ‘I Get What I Want’ will appeal right away. It’s a sweet dancer propelled by an Earl Van Dyke-led Detroit band. ‘Fool Me Good’ is a goodie too – owing more than a little to Marvin’s ‘Let Get It On’ while the Memphis-recorded ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ and ‘You Ought’a Thank Me’ both illustrate what the best of Southern soul is all about. Fans of the ‘Woman To Woman’ genre of song will delight in ‘You’ll Never Get Your Hooks In My Man’, but the undoubted gem in the set is what is simply labelled ‘My Groove Medley’. Recorded live in Jackson, Tennessee, the cut’s a three song medley of Bettye Swann’s ‘Make Me Yours’, Jackie Moore’s ‘Precious Precious’ and Denise’s own ‘Trapped By A Thing Called Love’. Over almost 15 minutes you’ll hear the beauty of real live soul music as audience and performer share their joyful, emotional commitment. The cut ends an excellent Denise LaSalle mid-career overview. Hugely recommended.
(BB) 4/5