Nona Hendryx - vocals; Eddie Martinez - guitars; Denzil Miller - keyboards; David Prater - drums; Carmine Rojas - bass; Jose Rossy - percussion
Nona Hendryx was one third of the outrageous, post-modern funk group LaBelle (which had re-invented itself from Patty LaBelle & the Bluebells in the 1960s), and scored big in 1974 with Allen Toussaint classic, "Lady Marmalade." The group, however, which helped usher in the era of disco, fell flat with their 1976 release, Phoenix, having grown tired of lavish costuming and theatrics-heavy stage shows.
By early 1977, LaBelle was over and each decided to pursue distinctly different musical directions. Patty LaBelle embraced R&B dance and pop music and had a platinum level solo career with hits like "New Attitude," Sarah Dash did a weak disco LP and eventually became a back up singer for the Rolling Stones, and Nona Hendryx... well... she pretty much went to another musical world.
The Hendryx solo album was out of sync with her musical past, so it's no wonder the label, Epic, didn't know how to market the disc or Hendryx herself. Dressed in a skintight white t-shirt and leather pants and with an ultra short afro, she opened this show with a track written with guitarist Eddie Martinez (known for writing pop hits for Robert Palmer and Pat Benetar) called "Tax Exile." About the plight of Brit rock stars forced to live off-shore for tax reasons, this is an all-out hard rocker that could have easily been performed by a band like Deep Purple. "You're just a tax exile, just a rock 'n' roll child, and they're taking it all away..." she belts out in as powerful a voice as Janis Joplin had with Big Brother.
Hendryx then throws a curve ball by doing a spirited cover of the Who's "We're Not Gonna Take It," from Tommy, and then launches into the best song she ever recorded as a solo artist—the soulful and completely upbeat arrangement of ex-Argent rocker, Russ Ballard's "Winning" that Epic tried to break as a single. The record stalled, but another Sony artist, Carlos Santana, did hear the Hendryx version and scored a big hit with it.
The rest of this set is accented by a hot and sweaty show of musicians from her band (which includes ex-Baby Grand members and a couple of the exiles from the old Labelle band). Highlights include "Everybody Wants To Be Somebody," "Take A Chance," (which is nearly 12 minutes long), "Problem," and "Will You Be There," which appears as an outtake.
Unfortunately, although she spearheaded the neo-funk/punk movement and would work with artists such as Talking Heads and George Clinton, Hendryx was never able to get her solo career off the ground to any substantial degree. She did, however, become an in-demand backup session vocalist, and in early 2009 she reunited with Sarah Dash and Patty Labelle, for a Labelle tour of the U.S.