Laura Lee - The Chess Years (1966-1969)

Laura Lee is an American soul and gospel singer.

Laura Lee Newton was born in Chicago in 1945, and as a child relocated to Detroit with her mother. She was adopted by Rev. E. Allan Rundless, whose wife Ernestine Rundless led a gospel group known as The Meditation Signers. In 1956 she joined the group herself, and toured around the country with them. 1965 saw her launch her secular solo career, singing in R&B clubs around Detroit, and still occasionally recording with The Meditation Singers.
The following year she was signed with Chess Records, who sent her south to record at Rick Hall's Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It proved to be a perfect arrangement (and one that Chess also found worked well with Etta James), as she recorded a series of fantastic gutsy soul numbers, a few of which were hits on the national R&B chart in 1967 and 1968 - "Dirty Man" got to #13, the Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham tune "Up Tight Good Man" got to #16 and the brilliant "As Long As I Got You" reached #31 (but surely deserved to go Top 10). For some reason an album of these recordings was not released at the time, and would have to wait until 1972 to see the light of day as the Love More Than Pride LP.
This compilation features eighteen songs from her Chess years, including all the Love More Than Pride tracks and all the singles. Some awesome powerful southern soul, a lot of it with a noticeable pro-woman stance. Includes covers of two Jerry Butler songs and the country tune "But You Know I Love You".


Anonymous said...

Thank you for introducing me to this artist. Terrific vocalist. Why she's not better known is a mystery.

Anonymous said...

i'd never heard of Laura Lee either. and she's really good. thanks for sharing these funky tunes and keeping her music alive. -peacenik

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