Personnel: Patti LaBelle (vocals); Elton John (vocals, piano); Mary J. Blige (vocals); Michael Thompson (guitar); Everette Harp (alto saxophone); Michael Bearden (Wurlitzer piano, keyboards, drums); Sheldon "So" Goode (keyboards, bass instrument, drums, background vocals); Clarence Allen (keyboards); Reggie Hamilton (bass instrument); Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums); Bashiri Johnson (percussion); Kristine W., Kenya Ivey, Ulissa Ivey (background vocals).
Patti LaBelle is one of R&B's classic artists, so it makes sense that she would record an album of accordingly classic tunes. CLASSIC MOMENTS opens with a tribute to Aretha Franklin entitled "Ain't No Way." Teamed up with fellow crooner Mary J. Blige, this bluesy ballad recalls not only the style of Franklin, but also of Ray Charles and even Dinah Washington.
The sorrowful ballad "I Can't Make You Love Me," made popular by Bonnie Raitt, highlights LaBelle's ability to interpret heartrending lyrics with both drama and subtlety. She shows even greater range on the Pretenders' power ballad "Stand By You." Here LaBelle infuses the lyric with a down-home R&B flavor. As good as these tracks are, Elton John's "Your Song" is the album's sparkling gem. Taken far out of its mainstream pop context, "Your Song" features a slick backbeat and a wailing, blues- inflected vocal on which the R&B diva really shows off her ability to ad lib around a melody. Overall, CLASSIC MOMENTS sees LaBelle still in top form. Her excellent choices in song selection are equally matched by the searing quality of her performances.