2018 will always be remembered as the year the world had to say goodbye to Her Majesty, the queen of soul Aretha Franklin. However that year we also said goodbye to another queen (though if she were still alive Aretha would likely take offense to us referring to another queen), Her Majesty, the Queen of the Blues Denise LaSalle.
Born Ora Denise Allen in Mississippi in 1934 (though it was only after her death we discovered she had shaved off five years which is why most sources cite 1939) she was best know
n for her million selling 1971 #1 R&B hit Trapped by A Thing Called Love but over the years LaSalle cultivated a large discography of down home blues songs many of which she wrote herself.
As a writer she also penned the blues mega hit, "Someone else is stepping in" for ZZ Hill.
Below are 15 of the best Denise LaSalle songs (many of which she wrote or co-wrote) you need to stream, download, buy or just listen to today!
P.A.R.T.Y (where it is)
Denise LaSalle brings the blues to a disco beat. I challenge to sit still while this jam is on.
Someone Else is Stepping In & Down Home Blues
These are both songs Denise sings like nobody else (the 1st one she wrote) but they are more closely associated with the man that made them both hits, ZZ Hill. His versions are stellar but I'm partial to Denise's versions.
15. Don't Mess with My Man
Typically songs with that title involve a wife threatening another woman to keep her hands (and other parts) away from her husband but not for Denise LaSalle, no she gives all those women permission to sex her husband but she warns you not to touch her man!
Key Line: "You can have that no good husband of mine but please don't mess with my man."
14. Santa's Got the Blues
If you ever wondered what down home blues and Christmas music mixed together would sound like-look no further as this song is proof that the combination is magical.
Key Line: "Ole Santa's got to make it cause the whole world is counting on me."
13. Still the Queen
In this sassy blues song LaSalle makes it known that despite what you might have heard she's still the queen. Furthermore, if you had any doubt she makes it clear "I'm the queen and blues is my claim to fame" and adds her trademark naughtiness with lines like "this queen ain't faking, this queen makes it with her lips. Take it any way you want to."
Key Line: "If you want to know who I am Denise LaSalle is my name!"
12. Now Run and Tell That
The second biggest hit of LaSalle's career this 1970s R&B chart topper climbed all the way to #3 and LaSalle claimed it was her second gold selling record.
Key Line: "Hey Hey Mr. Playboy, Hey Romeo It broke your heart 'cause I let you go. You been tellin' everybody where it's at, Now run and tell that (Run Home!)."
11. The Best Thing I Ever Had
Over heavy blues guitar licks Denise sings to a "friend" who seems to be giving her unsolicited advice about her man. Well, she makes it clear that her man is "the best thing I ever had".
Key Line: "But little girl if you know so much about it, tell me where is your man tonight?"
10. Your Husband is Cheating On Us
Could there be a better blues song title than this? Also could any title sum up what a song is about better than this? I say no to both so I'll let the record stand for itself.
Key Line: "I know you thought you had a good man, thought you had a man you could trust!"
9. Snap, Crackle and Pop
This song is a retort to all the male blues singers and the songs about their sexual prowess but Denise doesn't just make innuendos she calls them out by name (Clarence Carter, Bobby Rush, etc...) and in the process lets them know just how silly their sexual claims are; afterwards she proceeds to give them a tutorial of how to really please a woman. P.S. this song is for blues lovers as it uses the titles of several popular down home blues songs throughout.
Key Line: "If you wear it out then you ain't got nothing but a hot needy woman in pain."
8. Second Breath
Second Breath is an r&b and blues fusion where LaSalle recounts that she has new life, new joy and new happiness since her new man has been giving her some new (and apparently very good) loving.
Key Line: "He made a brand new woman out of me."
7. Right Side of the Wrong Bed
Another southern blues classic this song is not an apologetic take on cheating, far from it. Instead Denise recounts what led her to wake up "on the right side of the wrong bed, with Fred."
Key Line: "I finally got my pony jumped, by a real thoroughbred, when I woke up this morning on the right side of the wrong bed."
6. Come to Bed
As music styles changed so did Denise, so when disco was all the rage she made several notable disco songs. You can recognize the styles of the early 1980s when you listen to this song. With disco, pop and electronic music influences this dated but catchy song will be unusual to fans of LaSalle's blues music but that versatility is why I like it so much.
Key Line: "Leave the dishes until the morning, you look so delicious, I can't help wanting you."
5. The Wall was Paper Thin
If you couldn't tell Denise LaSalle was one hell of a story teller. This song marks one of her best stories. I will not spoil the ending for you you'll just have to click the link and listen for yourself. You'll thank me later.
Key Line: "An old familiar sound, turning my world upside down."
4. Trapped By A Thing Called Love
Is there any surprise that this song is on the list? It was her signature song, was a million seller and a #1 hit. It is such an infectious southern r&b jam that former President Barack Obama placed it on his 2016 songs of the summer playlist. It was so popular Denise remixed it and released a 2nd popular version known as Trapped 1990.
Key Line: "Somebody tell me, what has this man got. He makes me feel what I don't want to feel...He makes me give what I don't want to give."
3. Lick it Before You Stick It
Like Your Husband is Cheating on Us the title of this one just about says it all. Yet what the title can't tell you is just how explicit Denise gets in this song. She mentions everything from "titty-kissing" to "the little man in the boat" that you need to "take between you lips".
Key Line: "You making her feel good but you can make her feel better if you treat your lady like a stamp on a letter."
2. I Forgot to Remember (to Forget About You)
Denise was in love with whatever man she's singing about in this bluesy number. She threw out the mattress, his pictures and even moved to a new apartment on the other side of town-yet she still can't shake being in love with him! By the time the song ends she's over even trying to pretend she doesn't want him anymore. You can hear the passion in Denise's throaty and powerful singing on this track.
Key Line: "I still feel your presence in the things that I do. After I told myself that we were through I forgot to remember to forget about you."
1. Married but Not to Each Other
This Denise LaSalle co-penned song about two separately philandering spouses was a hit not once but twice; Cracking the top 20 of the r&b charts in 1976 and the top 5 of the country charts a year later when it was remade by superstar Barbara Mandrell. Admittedly, I first became acquainted with the Mandrell version of this song but after hearing the original I fell in love with both but LaSalle's soulful, sassy yet mournful and powerful vocals quickly made her version my favorite song, period.
Key Line: "You've gotta make up alibis, Hopin' they don't sound like lies 'in case you get caught, you just might get caught, baby. Hurry up and love him Hurry up and please him And when it gets good, You know you've got to leave him."