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Sharon REDD, Ula HEDWIG & Charlotte CROSSLEY – Formerly Of The Harlettes 1978

Posted in BLUES, Charlotte CROSSLEY, Sharon REDD, Ula HEDWIG on December 20, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Sharon REDD, Ula HEDWIG & Charlotte CROSSLEY – Formerly Of The Harlettes 1978
CBS 82598

Jazz

Bette Midler’s stage act grew out of her early ’70s performances at the Continental Baths, a gay bathhouse in Manhattan which offered entertainment on the weekends. Due to her powerful singing voice, her outrageous costumes and her biting wit, Midler’s performances became a favourite of the bathhouse crowd.

Inspired in part by the Theatre of the Ridiculous, Midler’s stage show evolved into a bawdy and flamboyant mixture of stand-up comedy, Vaudeville and burlesque. It was during this time that Midler cultivated her stage persona, “The Divine Miss M”. “The more outrageous I was, the more they liked it,” says Midler. “It loosened me up.”

With the assistance of long-time collaborator and friend Barry Manilow — who also happened to work as a pianist at the Continental Baths — Midler found herself a trio of backup singers, which included pop singer Melissa Manchester. Originally they were called The Red Light District, then M.G.M. (because of the initials of the original members, Melissa, Gail and Merle), but eventually they settled on The Harlettes.

With the support of her sultry Harlettes and the choreography of Toni Basil, Midler’s performances became known for their exhausting singing and dance routines. In a 1973 review of one of her shows, Rolling Stone writer Ed McCormack stated: “Watching Bette and the girls work out, the raw awkward sexual energy of it all makes you think of Tina Turner.”During a single performance Midler and her Harlettes sing everything from wartime radio tunes such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, Depression-era jazz songs such as “Big Noise From Winnetka”, “I Only Have Eyes for You”, and “Lullaby of Broadway”, and early girl group pop songs such as “Leader of the Pack”, “Chapel of Love”, and “Da Doo Ron Ron”, all while changing in and out of costumes as varied as pink waitress uniforms, sequined gowns and mermaid tails.

Former Harlette Linda Hart was quoted in 2008 as saying that working as a Harlette was “like show business boot camp” and that she learned much from the experience. Midler was also quoted in 2007 as referring to her relationship to her Harlettes in this way: “We have a great relationship. They adore me and I pay them.”
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These were my best friends in New York at the time, Bette Midler’s backup singers, who made this LP in 1978. They had several demos of mine when they went to San Francisco to do the album. “Ain’t No Man Worth It”, the very first song I ever wrote and what got me my own record deal on Epic Records a few years earlier, ended up on the LP. While the Harlettes were recording it Patti LaBelle, who was being produced by the same producer, heard my songs and flew me to SF so I could make demos of the rest of my songs which I didn’t have enough money to do on my own. Patti became the first artist to regularly cut my stuff and on that very same trip she put me with Herbie Hancock who was in the studio next door to write. That led to three songs on his “Feets Don’t Fail Me Now” LP, the first album he did with a Vocorder. In very quick succession over the next few months that lead to Earth Wind & Fire. So this Harlettes record is a VERY significant one for me.
By Allee Willis.
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Vocal trio Sharon Redd, Ula Hedwig & Charlotte Crossley did this album in 1978 for Columbia Records, it was produced by David Rubinson and engineered by Fred Catero, who are the team that recorded Herbie Hancock’s milestone albums during his 70ies period. Players are John Barnes on keyboards, James Gadson on drums, Wah Wah Watson on guitar and Byron Miller on bass, plus Leon Ndugu Chancler on drums, Mac Cridlin, Willie Weeks and Fred Washington on bass, Ray Parker Jr on guitar, Jose Chepito Areas on timbales, Paul Rekow on congas, Sneaky Pete on pedal steel guitar, and – last but not least – Herbie Hancock on fender rhodes (on Maiden Voyage).
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The Band;
John Barnes- Keyboards
Wah Wah Watson- Guitar
Byron Miller- Bass
James Gadson- Drums
And Guests (In Covers)
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A1. Can’t Dance (Dance, Dance, Dance)  5:30
A2. Ain’t No Man Worth It  5:20
A3. Cash In  5:22
A4. Maiden Voyage  9:40
B1. Roll Me Through The Rushes  6:09
B2. Put It Where You Want It  4:50
B3. Does Your Mama Know About Me  4:53
B4. Now (Sweet Lover Man)  7:11
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