Action Time Revision

nona1You’d be hard pushed to find someone who isn’t familiar with the phrase “voulez-vous cousher avec moi, ce soir?” yet ask your average man to name more than one member of the group responsible and you’d probably be met with silence.

Patti Labelle obviously remained in the post-Lady Marmalade spotlight after her group split but it’s the lesser spotted Nona Hendryx that we’re concerned with today.

So what’s another disco chanteuse doing on these pages you may ask? Well…

nona3Hendryx is just the kind of genre-hopping chameleon we love here at Skank Blog; first seen doo-wopping her way down the aisle with The Bluebelles before taking a funk-rock turn in the early 70’s, Hendryx went solo following Labelle’s split in ’76, releasing her eponymous debut the following year to little acclaim.

Dropped from her label, Hendryx wound up touring with the expanded Talking Heads band whilst courting no-wave funk mutants Material who’s lynchpin Bill Laswell produced today’s offering. Steady Action stems from the Nona LP from ’83, stripped of it’s predecessor’s MOR rock-n-soul, Nona was more of a reinvention than a follow up, with Laswell’s jazz-informed punk-funk and electro as the perfect backdrop to Hendryx’ sonic transformation.

nona2Granted, there’s a certain whiff of cynical marketing off the back of Grace Jones’ art-pop outings of the time, I can’t begin to imagine the stomach-turning conversations at the label but Hendryx shines regardless. It probably doesn’t help that Sly Dunbar was called in to tackle the reggae number, lending a definite Compass Point feel to the session but this is by no means a bad thing, if it was I wouldn’t be sharing it…

The video to Nona’s Transformation:

On a side note, the Steady Action horns deserve a nod, as performed by jazz experimentalist (and rapper Nas’ dad) Olu Dara, heard here parping away on the Rough Trade released free-funk outing Are You Glad To Be In America? by James Blood Ulmer…


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