Labi Siffre -1973 – Crying Laughing Loving Lying
This album never got the credit it deserved. The songs are sparse, occasionally orchestrated, but always beautiful. The emotion is there for all to hear in both the music and the words. Listen to this album and I guarantee you will feel better afterwards. Sometimes simpler is better, and the melodies and songs here epitomize that. My personal favorites are “Cannock Chase”, “Blue Lady”, and (for personal reasons) “Come on Michael”. I love this album…every time I listen to it, the good things in life always push the bad things into the background.
The album was recorded at Chappell Studios in London.The record contains two of Labi’s best known songs: “It Must Be Love” (No. 14, 1971) (later covered by and a No. 4 hit for Madness, for which Siffre himself appeared in the video) and “Crying Laughing Loving Lying” (No. 11, 1972).
Both “It Must Be Love” and “Crying Laughing Loving Lying” were released as singles in the U.S. by Bell Records but failed to chart. The album was never released in the U.S. Siffre had his first U.S. singles success as a songwriter when, in 1983, the cover version of “It Must Be Love” by Madness peaked in the Billboard Magazine chart at #33.Kanye West‘s third album titled Graduation holds a song by the name of “I Wonder” in which he samples Siffre’s “My Song” from this album.
The real beauty of the LP lies in the second track ‘Cannock Chase‘. Heart-melting, rich harmonies, a ringing twelve string guitar hook, it is (in my opinion) one of the finest pieces of music written.
A1 Saved 2:00
A2 Cannock Chase 3:57
A3 Fool Me a Goodnight 3:30
A4 It Must Be Love 3:42
A5 Gimme Some More 2:50
A6 Blue Lady 5:00
B1 Love oh Love oh Love 4:22
B2 Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying 2:50
B3 Hotel Room Song 2:50
B4 My Song 4:30
B5 Till Forever 1:08
B6 Come On Michael 2:50
Born in London in 1945 to a Belgian/Barbadian mum and Nigerian father, Labi had his demos sent to a music publisher in late 1969 which resulted in a publishing contract and the recording and release of his first album on Pye Records early in 1970 (Pye Records at that time was home to The Kinks and Status Quo). His style for the first 5 albums he did on Pye is more singer-songwriter than soulster, though the tracks themselves are often very soulful in their nature – sort of a Bill Withers meets Gilbert O’Sullivan vibe. Many were just Labi Siffre, an acoustic guitar and his high falsetto voice. He’s often lumped in with easy-listening here in the UK which does his superb song-writing talents a huge disservice – and like Gilbert O’Sullivan – he is another ‘soft’ songwriter of the Seventies not given nearly enough credit for his brilliance in penning a truly touching tune, but beloved still by fans and those who like their singers to be on the side of Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor.
Increasingly his songs are being name-checked and used by R ‘n’ B soul boys of the last few years who have realized that Labi’s songs offer a wealth of good source material. KAYNE WEST sampled “My Song” from “Crying Laughing Loving Lying” on his “I Wonder” track from 2007’s “Graduation” – while both JAY-Z and EMINEM have famously sampled the stunning bass break that happens half way through “I Got The…” on “Remember My Song” from 1975.
His 3rd studio album opens with the Acapella “Saved” and then goes into the jaunty “Cannock Chase” – beautiful clarity on both tracks. But its nuggets like the lovely “Fool Me A Goodnight“, “Hotel Room Song” and “My Song” that have languished in obscurity for far too long. And again I can’t emphasise enough the fabulous remastering. I’ve treasured this album for years on vinyl and to finally hear it given this kind of sound quality is a joy. Another forgotten gem is the lilt of “Blue Lady” with its goregous building arrangements. “It Must Be Love” and the beautiful title track “Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying” sound fab too. I’ve always thought that the stand-alone “Watch Me” is his masterpiece from the period – a song that literally makes me weepy (I was in love with a girl at the time) and its presence here as a new bonus is a real winner that fans will love. Of the album outtakes “You Make It Easy” has a lovely melody – Siffre and an electric piano – its very demo-ish but full of feeling and has a Bacharach brass refrain during its pretty chorus.
Afer 3 more albums, Siffre retired for a few years but then returned in 1987 with “(Something Inside) So Strong” on China Records – a magnificent Anti-Apartheid anthem and as moving a song as you’re ever likely to hear. His into-the-light website is fascinating also – packed with poetry, political observations and extremely active fan exchanges etc.
Very few albums hit quite as close to home as this one. It leaves me in tears. ‘Cannock Chase‘ is a serene masterpiece. The whole album is pure concentrated happiness. ‘Come on Michael‘ is wonderfully personal and uplifting. It’s my go to song to play when some needs a mood lift. Can’t recommend enough, I love it!
More Labi Siffre on FMS in our back pages