Rolling Stone (10/31/02, p.136) - Ranked # 14 in Rolling Stone's "Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums" - "...A kaleidoscopic masterpiece of feminist striving..."
Rolling Stone (4/13/00, p.132) - 4.5 stars out of 5 - "...an almost mechanical underpinning of robot funk and juke-joint piano janglings....showcasing Patti at her sassiest and most elastic..."
Recording information: Sea-Saint Studios.
Photographer: Fred Lombardi.
Arranger: Allen Toussaint.
After two commercially unsuccessful albums for Warner Brothers, LaBelle moved to Epic in 1974 to record the brash, deeply funky NIGHTBIRDS. Helmed by famed New Orleans producer, arranger, and hit-maker Allen Toussaint, NIGHTBIRDS mixes sassy New Orleans R&B with hard-driving funk and LaBelle's soulful, often eclectic, take on girl-group dynamics. On the strength of Toussaint's horn-driven arrangements and the album's runaway smash single, "Lady Marmalade" (with its immediately memorable French refrain), NIGHTBIRDS shot up the charts.
The remainder of the album measures up to the standard set by its single, especially on the sly groover "Don't Bring Me Down" and the thumping "Are You Lonely?" Patti LaBelle's agile soprano alternately soars and seeks out gritty corners, while Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash providing airtight, in-your-face harmonies. The glam-inflected "Space Children" and "Nightbird," a theatrical ballad, may date the album a bit, but that is part of the fun of this classic, good-time funk-fest.