Laura Lee (born Laura Lee Newton, 9 March 1945, Chicago, Illinois) is an American soul and gospel singer and songwriter, most successful in the 1960s and 1970s and influential for her records which discussed and celebrated women’s experience.
Lee was born in Chicago, but as a child relocated to Detroit with her mother. After a few years, she was adopted by Rev. E. Allan Rundless, who had previously been a member of the Soul Stirrers, and his wife Ernestine, who led a gospel group, The Meditation Singers. Featuring Della Reese, they were the first Detroit gospel group to perform with instrumental backing. The group recorded on the Specialty label in the mid 1950s, appeared on the LP Della Reese Presents The Meditation Singers in 1958, and in the early 1960s recorded for Checker Records.
As Laura Lee Rundless, she replaced Reese in The Meditation Singers in 1956, and over the next few years toured widely around the country. In 1965, as Laura Lee, she launched her secular solo career as an R&B singer in clubs in Detroit, although she also continued to record occasionally with The Meditation Singers. She first recorded solo for Ric-Tic Records in 1966, with “To Win Your Heart”.
The following year, she signed with Chess Records and, after initially recording in-house with the label’s producers in Chicago, it was decided to send her to Rick Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals to record “Dirty Man”. This became her first hit, reaching #13 R&B and #68 pop. She stayed with Chess until 1969, also recording “Up Tight Good Man” (#16 R&B) and “As Long As I Got You” (#31 R&B).
A short spell with Atlantic subsidiary, Cotillion resulted in two singles and then in 1970, Lee moved to former Motown producers, Holland, Dozier and Holland‘s newly established Hot Wax label in Detroit. One of her first recordings for Hot Wax, “Women’s Love Rights”, became one of her biggest hits, reaching #11 on the R&B chart in 1971 and #36 pop. In 1972, “Rip Off” became her biggest R&B hit at #3 but only climbed to #68 on the Billboard Hot 100. She also recorded an album, Two Sides of Laura Lee, while in a relationship with singer Al Green. Most of her material on Hot Wax was produced by William Weatherspoon, formerly with Motown.
Husky-voiced Laura Lee’s first album for Hot Wax Records sizzles and soothes. She adds a new element to “Every Little Bit Hurts,” turning the waltz-tempo whiner into a deep soul extravaganza. Her heartfelt versions of two standards, “At Last” and “Guess Who I Saw Today,” makes them accessible to soul listeners who normally wouldn’t give them the time of day. “Rip Off” is just what the title infers; Laura’s doing a sneak number on her man by having a U-Haul parked in the driveway to remove every item in the house. The sexual implications in “If You Can Beat Me Rocking (You Can Have My Chair)” should be obvious to all. “When a Man Loves a Woman” is delivered here from a woman’s point of view; Laura tags on a nice rap about men and some motherly advice at the beginning of the Percy Sledge classic.
A1. “At Last (My Love Has Come Along)” (Harry Warren, Mack Gordon) – 4:38
A2. “Every Little Bit Hurts” (Edward Cobb) – 6:08
A3. “Guess Who I Saw Today” (Elisse Boyd, Murray Grand) – 3:51
A4. “Crumbs Off The Table” (Edith Wayne, Ronald Dunbar, Sherrie Payne – 3:34
B1. “If You Can Beat Me Rockin’ (You Can Have My Chair)” (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Ronald Dunbar) – 2:52
B2. “Workin’ And Lovin’ Together” (Angelo Bond, Doris Weatherspoon, William Weatherspoon) – 2:33
B3. “Rip Off” (Angelo Bond, William Weatherspoon) – 3:15
B4. “When A Man Loves A Woman” (Andrew Wright, Calvin Lewis) – 5:19
B5. “You’ve Got To Save Me” (Doris Weatherspoon, William Weatherspoon) – 3:16
- Distributed By – Buddah Records
Exclusively Distributed By Buddah Records
Genre: Funk / Soul
Style: Soul, Funk
Label – Hot Wax Records