Lost but not least! Patti LaBelle & Carlos Santana – When U Smile (DFA Mix) (Fall Out Records)
I guess I’ll never say enough as to how music is first and foremost a matter of love and respect. This, whatever you might be doin’ (writing, performing, producing, remixing… reviewing).
Hard to not remember what of my late brother, Barry White said to me during our first meeting. He had the following words… “Take a properly done piece of music. Rebuild it with the right elements whatever your approach may be. Then chances will be great you’ll bring it some added value…”
This is exactly what to expect with this (unofficial) remix of ‘When U Smile’ by the likes of Darryl James and Fred McFarlane aka the DFA. Takin’ on Patti Labelle‘s 2004 lascivious and jazzy ‘When U Smile’ (originally titled ‘When You Smile’). Then turnin’ it into a luxurious piece of Latinesque Soul tailored for the floors. And what an incredible transformation they did. As if they’d enhanced the meaning of this love song with their sophisticated arrangements. Therefore putting Patti LaBelle‘s irresistible jamming along with Carlos Santana on guitar in another galaxy.
“Finally I’ve found What I’ve been looking for. You are everything to me and even more. I can see the heart of you I so adore in your eyes, When U smile…” As many words sayin’ it all, I suppose. Makin’ of ‘When U Smile’ an irresistbly attractive song.
One extra word: mastermix!
– Philadelphia, PA-born Patti LaBelle got into singing while at high school. She then became a soloist with the Beulah Baptist Church Choir. While a teenager, she teamed up with Cindy Birdsong in The Ordettes. In the meantime, their friends, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash would be singing in The Del Capris. The two groups went on to merge forces as The Bluebelles to later become Patti Labelle & The Bluebelles, then simply Labelle.
One will most likely remember Labelle for their cover version of ‘Lady Marmalade’ on Epic Records.. A song which first appeared back in 1974, by the likes of Eleventh Hour. It made quite a sensation with its sexually suggestive chorus of “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?”. Some French words which translated into English, give something like as “Do you want to have sex with me (tonight)?” Written by Kenny Nolan and Bob Crewe, it took its inspiration from the latter’s experiences in New Orleans and the sex workers in the area. It didn’t chart though. Crewe suggested it then to Allen Toussaint who decided to record it with Labelle soon after. With the rest being history…
By 1977, Patti LaBelle signed as a solo artist with Epic. She recorded 2 albums – ‘Patti Labelle’ and ‘Tasty’ – before hitting the Disco scene with producer Skip Scarborough. This along with the memorable ‘Music Is My Way Of Life’ from her third LP – ‘It’s Alright With Me’ – for the label. Her 1980 ‘Released’ album marking the end of her liaison with Epic.
Switching to Philadelphia International Records the year after, she gave another timeless illustration of her unique talent. Meanwhile delivering a standout jazzy rendition of the classic ‘Over The Rainbow’ along with Sam Peake on sax and MFSB on strings and horns. One of the definitive highlights from her 1981 ‘The Spirit’s In It’ album. Strangely enough, its title track didn’t get that much attention at the time despite its killer arrangements. With the same happening to ‘I’ll Never, Never Give Up’ from her following album – ‘I’m In Love Again’ the year after.
Patti LaBelle would nevertheless reach the status of a mainstream solo star in 1984 further to the success of the singles, “If Only You Knew”, ‘New Attitude’ and ‘Stir It Up’. Gaining extra following 2 years later with the release of ‘Winner In You’. An album featuring the #1 duet single ‘On My Own’ along with Michael McDonald. She would also collaborate with Grover Washington, Jr. takin’ the lead on The Best Is Yet To Come’, from his 1982 eponymous album. And she also sang a couple of duets with Bobby Womack.
More recently (in 2004), she had a couple of gems – ‘More Than Material’ and ‘New Day’ – which both received the remixing treatment of House heads. With the first by the likes of Darryl James and Fred McFarlane. And the second courtesy of Louie Vega among others. Not to mention ‘When You Smile’ along with Carlos Santana. A song which resurfaced the year after Fall Out Records, as brilliantly remixed here as well by Darryl James and Fred McFarlane.
– Bronx, NY native Darryl James got his start DJing at his uncle’s night club at the age of 16. That is where he gained valuable experience and honed his craft. He then moved on to spin in two of the hottest clubs of the 80’s in New York City… The Red Parrot and The Silver Shadow! His skills helpin’ him snag the much coveted position as the main house DJ at the World Famous Bentley’s Night Club for several years.
Deejaying at Bentley’s brought to the attention of radio stations and record companies what the general public had been enjoying for years… Darryl’s artistry of mixing records!
In 1991, he began doing Mix Shows for 98.7 KISS-FM. The following year in addition to KISS-FM, he was performing a live broadcast for WBLS. From 1994 through the Winter of 1998, Darryl blessed the airwaves with his Mix Show on WBLS. He then would display his mastery of the airwaves on the Lunch Mix on KISS-FM until the station ceased its activities.
While working, Darryl met and formed a productive work relationship with Todd Terry. This union delivered several hit records on Todd’s dance label, Freeze Records. Beginning with ‘You Make Me Happy’ and ‘Where Do We Go’. Continuing on the creative path, Darryl went on to remix various artists including Jody Watley, D-Mob, Janet Jackson and Incognito to name a few.
In 1994, James started producing along with the late Fred McFarlane. A man who came to fame as the producer of gems such as ‘Somebody’ Else’s Guy’, ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Show Me Love’, not to mention ‘Luv 4 Luv’. Respectively for Jocelyn Brown, Jenny Burton and Robin S(tone).
By the early 2000’s, the twosome got to another level under the DFA guise, releasing a lot of remixes for R&B artists. With many of them seeing the light on the (unofficial) Fall Out Records label. From Patti LaBelle & Carlos Santana‘s ‘When U Smile’ to Floetry‘s ‘Say Yes’. Not to mention Muziq‘s ‘Half Crazy’ and Alicia Key‘s ‘Diary’ among others. As many reworks sending their audience into a friendly atmosphere. Whether they are grooving on the dance floor, jamming in the car, or relaxing at home…
– Hailing from the Big Apple, Fred McFarlane wore countless hats. A R&B songwriter, a record producer and a multi-instrumentalist, his career spanned more than 30 years. He first made himself a name as a keyboardist, working with artists such as Fatback, Enchantment and Crown Heights Affair. But also as a member of Logg and Intrigue (along with Leroy Burgess). Not to mention Convertion (remember ‘Let’s Do It’ on SAM Records).
He got into production work in 1984, teaming up with Allen George. Both of them crafting classics such as ‘Somebody Else’s Guy’ for Jocelyn Brown. But also Jenny Burton‘s ‘Bad Habit’ and Robin Stone‘s ‘Show Me Love’ in addition to ‘Luv 4 Luv’. The luminaries the twosome worked with also including Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, Alton ‘Wookie’ Stewart and Kym Mazelle.
By the beginning of the 2000’s, McFarlane partnered with Darryl James under the DFA guise. Both of them releasing an impressive amount of Dance remixes for R&B artists on Fall Out Records. From Patti LaBelle & Carlos Santana‘s ‘When U Smile’ to Floetry‘s ‘Say Yes’. Not to mention Muziq‘s ‘Half Crazy’ and Alicia Keys‘s ‘Diary’ among others.
Fred McFarlane sadly passed on Sept. 03, 2016, aged 56, with the cause not yet released.