Labi Siffre

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Labi Siffre
Born (1945-06-25) 25 June 1945 (age 69)
Hammersmith, London, England
Genres Soft rock, soul, adult contemporary, folk, funk
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter,
poet and writer
Years active 1970–2006
Labels EMI/Pye/China
Website Official site

Labi Siffre (born 25 June 1945) is a British poet, songwriter, musician, and singer. Siffre released six albums between 1970 and 1975, and four between 1988 and 1998. Siffre has released several albums and has performed many cover versions of songs. He also has published works in poetry, a play and an essay. He came out of retirement in 1985.

Early life and education[edit]

Born the fourth of five children, at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in Hammersmith, London to a British mother of Barbadian–Belgian descent and a Nigerian father, Siffre was brought up in Bayswater and Hampstead and educated at a Catholic independent day school, St Benedict's School, in Ealing, west London.[1] Despite his Catholic education Siffre has stated that he has always been an atheist.[2]

Musical career[edit]

Siffre played at Annie Ross's club in Soho in the 1960s as part of a house band.[2]

He released six albums between 1970 and 1975, and four between 1988 and 1998. In the early 1970s, he had UK hits with "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); "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" (No. 11, 1972); and "Watch Me" (No. 29, 1972).[3] In 1978, Siffre took part in the UK heats of the Eurovision Song Contest. He performed his own composition "Solid Love", which placed fifth of the twelve songs up for consideration at the A Song for Europe contest. Additionally, he co-wrote the song "We Got It Bad" performed by Bob James, which came tenth.

Siffre came out of self-imposed retirement from music in 1985, when he saw a television film from South Africa showing a white soldier shooting at black children.[4] He wrote "(Something Inside) So Strong" (No. 4, 1987).[3]

Discography[edit]

Singles[edit]

  • "I Got The" (2006) (recorded 1975)

Studio albums[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Olivia Newton-John (English-born, Australia-raised singer and actor) covered "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" in 1975 on her gold-certified MCA album entitled Clearly Love (catalog # MCA-2148). Olivia and Labi's paths have crossed more than once over the years, as illustrated by the fact that Labi and Olivia dueted on a live version of her number-1 pop hit "You're the One That I Want" (written by John Farrar, and originally featured as a duet with John Travolta in the 1978 film adaptation of the musical Grease).
  • Madness covered "It Must Be Love" in 1981. The song reached Number 4 in the UK charts and Number 33 in the U.S. in 1983. Labi Siffre also made a cameo appearance in the music video.
  • "(Something Inside) So Strong" was covered by Kenny Rogers in 1989 (and became the title track to a hit album). The song was also covered by Vanessa Bell Armstrong in 1988 and again by a host of gospel artists as a tribute to Rosa Parks in the mid-1990s. It was covered by "eternal" in 1994 as part of their E..P Crazy. In late 2009 it also featured in the hit BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey, where it was adapted into a Welsh chapel christening ceremony.
  • The Flying Pickets covered the song in their 1994 album The Warning.
  • Michael Ball also released a cover of the song in 1996, which reached Number 40 in the UK.
  • Primal Scream sampled "I Got The..." in their song "Kill All Hippies" on their 2000 album, XTRMNTR.
  • It has also been covered by Rik Waller in 2002, when it was released as a single.
  • Fatboy Slim sampled Rosetta Hightower's cover of Labi Siffre's "A Little More Line" (from his 1970 debut album Labi Siffre) for the song "That Old Pair of Jeans" on Fatboy's 2006 album Why Try Harder,
  • Kanye West used a sample of "My Song" in "I Wonder" on his album Graduation.
  • Eminem sampled "I Got The..." for his song, "My Name Is".
  • Jay-Z sampled "I Got The..." for his hit, "Streets Iz Watching."
  • Miguel sampled "I Got The..." in his song "Kaleidoscope Dream", taken from his Grammy-nominated 2012 album of the same name.
  • Wu-Tang Clan sampled the bass-line from the second half of "I Got The..." for their song "Can It Be All So Simple" off Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
  • RJD2's song "Making Days Longer", from his album Since We Last Spoke, is a cover of Siffre's "Bless the Telephone", from The Singer and the Song. Siffre is credited as writer of the original song in the liner notes.
  • Blank & Jones covered "Down" in their 2007 Chillout album Relax Edition Three.
  • Joss Stone covered "I Got The..." on her sixth album The Soul Sessions Vol 2.
  • Rod Stewart covered "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" on his 1995 compilation Handbags & Gladrags (Mercury UK).
  • Move4Parkinson's Voices of Hope Choir covered "Something Inside So Strong" in April 2013 to commemorate World Parkinson's Day.[5] The song reached Number 1 in the Irish R and B iTunes chart.
  • Kelis covered "Bless The Telephone" for her sixth studio album "Food" in 2014.

Bibliography[edit]

Poetry[edit]

  • Nigger (Xavier Books 1993)
  • Blood on the Page (Xavier Books 1995)
  • Monument (Xavier Books 1997)

Plays[edit]

  • DeathWrite (Xavier Books 1997)

Essays[edit]

  • Choosing the Stick They Beat You With (Penguin 2000)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (2002) The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music p.398. Virgin, 2002, ISBN 978-1852279479
  2. ^ a b "Q&A: Labi Siffre | New Humanist". Rationalist.org.uk. 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 498. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ "SPIN". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]