Labelle’s Lady Marmalade

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Labelle’s Lady Marmalade

Labelle's Lady Marmalade

Disco Soul

The song was written by music business heavyweights Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan. The story behind the song, so it goes, comes from Crewe’s travels to New Orleans and its red light disctrict.  Lady Marmalade is one of the ladies of the night. The refrain “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” translates from the French to English as “Do you want to sleep with me tonight?” The song was first recorded in 1974 by a group of studio musicians with Nolan on lead vocals under the name of The Eleventh Hour. It did not chart. Crewe shows the song to producer/musician Alain Toussaint, and he chose, along with producer Vicki Wickham,  to record the song with the girl group Labelle.

Labelle was formed from two Philadelphia/Trenton area girl groups, that is, The Ordettes and The Del-Capris. They changed their name to The Blue Belles, then Bluebelles, then Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, and then Labelle from 1970-1976. They were Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash.

On the track “Lady Marmalade” are the Labelle ladies with Patti LaBelle on lead vocals, Allen Toussaint (keyboards, percussion), Art Neville (organ), George Porter Jr. (bass), Leo Nocentelli, Rev. Edward Levone Batts (guitar), Herman Ernest (drums), James “Budd” Ellison (piano), Earl Turbinton (alto sax (Alvin Thomas (tenor sax), Clyde Kerr, Jr. (trumpet), Lester Calliste (trombone), Carl Blouin (baritone sax), and Clarence Ford (alto sax). And that is one hot track!

In 1974-75, the song rose to #1 on the U.S., Canada, and The Netherlands. It was #5 in Italy, #2 in Belgium, and #17 in Austria. It sold more than one million copies and earned an RIAA gold record. “Lady Marmalade” was also on Labelle’s 1974 album Nighbirds.

There have been numerous very successful covers of “Lady Marmalade,” including versions by All Saints, Sabrina, and the one for the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, which was sung by Christina Aguilera, Mýa, Pink and Lil’ Kim.

Here are the lyrics to “Lady Marmalade” by Labelle:

Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister
Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister

He met Marmalade down in old new orleans
Struttin’ her stuff on the street
She said “hello,
Hey joe, you wanna give it a go?” mmm, mmm

Itchi gitchi ya ya da da
Itchi gitchi ya ya here
Mocha-choca-lata ya ya
Creole lady Marmalade

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

He sat in her boudoir while she freshened up
The boy drank all that magnolia wine
On the black satin sheets oh I swear he started to freak

Itchi gitchi ya ya da da
Itchi gitchi ya ya here
Mocha-choca-lata ya ya
Creole lady Marmalade

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

Hey, hey, hey
Touching her skin feelin’ silky smooth
The colour of cafe au lait
Made the savage beast inside
Roar until it cried, more, more, more

Now he’s back home doing nine to five
Living his grey flannel life
But when he turns off to sleep
Old memories creep, more, more, more

Itchi gitchi ya ya da da da
Itchi gitchi ya ya here
Mocha-choco-lata ya ya
Creole lady Marmalade

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?
Creole lady Marmalade

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

Itchi gitchi ya ya da da
Itchi gitchi ya ya here
Mocha-choco-lata ya ya
Itchi gitchi ya ya here

For More 70s Tunes

The System has daily featured music from all sorts of genres of 1970s music. You’re welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections in The System. Thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed “Lady Marmalade” by Labelle.

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