domingo, 29 de marzo de 2009

Bettye LaVette: Let Me Down Easy In Concert (2000)

While her talent places her squarely on a parallel with legends such as Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Irma Thomas, Detroit soul singer Bettye LaVette never really got the adulation and commercial success enjoyed by her peers. LaVette claims that live performance is where she blows away the competition and hearing this monster set recorded at the 1999 Blues Estafette festival in Utrecht, Holland, one would be hard pressed to argue with her. It captures some of the excitement of a singer who loves to sing and is determined to give her audience what it came for: a great show. That's why they love her throughout Europe and pack the clubs and blues festivals to see her perform. Featuring an ace band led by her longtime keyboardist and musical director, Rudy Robinson, Let Me Down Easy in Concert reveals the singer finding the exposed nerve in a sampling of her career. She opens with her first hit record, ‘My Man’. It's faster here than on the original, but it's still hot and Bettye tells the truth as only she can. Bettye's version of Etta James' ‘Damn Your Eyes’ is a highlight of the set. An original, Bettye doesn't copy Etta's version, but gives it new life and a fresh and exciting interpretation. LaVette's starkly atmospheric and beautiful ‘Let Me Down Easy’ always brings down the house. The original recording is now considered a classic, but the other covers of the song don't match Bettye's original. In concert, LaVette has given the song "wings" and she soars like a Phoenix leaving her listeners exhilerated. Bettye's voice is unique in that she does not imitate anyone and gives everything she sings, guts and soul. If she feels like shouting, she'll shout, if she feels tender she can break your heart with a whisper...and if she get's "happy" she might do a little screamin' for you. But, one thing, she does all of this with class.,

Bettye LaVette with DLS Band singing live 'Little Sparrow':

viernes, 27 de marzo de 2009

VA: Way With the Girls. Thirty Northern Soul Girl Group Classics (1992)

1. You Will Never Get Away - Cholli Maye
2. Here Come The Heartaches - Lovells
3. I'm A Sad Girl - Deena Johnson
4. If You Can Stand Me - Tamala Lewis
5. Thrills And Chills - Helene Smith
6. I Feel Strange - Wonderettes
7. Lost Without Your Love - Carlettes
8. Now That I Found You Baby - Mirettes
9. It's Over - Terry Lindsay
10. It's All Over - Gee's
11. Why Weren't You There - Thelma Lindsay
12. Step Aside Baby - Lollipops
13. It Happens Every Day - Persianettes
14. Source Of Love - Gina Marie
15. Sweet Sweet Love - Durettes
16. Pretty Boy - Dora Hall
17. Big Man - Karen Starr
18. Ain't Gonna Hurt My Pride - Judi & The Affections
19. You're The Guy - Argie & The Arketts
20. There's Something The Matter - Cynthia & The Imaginations
21. Wonderful One - Theresa Lindsey
22. My My Sweet Love - Barbara Lee
23. If You Love Me (Show Me) - Monique
24. Sugar Boy - Charmettes
25. Don't Cha Tell Nobody - Vont Claires
26. Don't Cry - Irma & The Larks
27. My Fault - Passionettes
28. Try My Love - Sequins
29. How Can I Get To You - Sharon Soul
30. His Way With The Girls - Lornettes

viernes, 20 de marzo de 2009

Jean Wells: Soul on Soul (1994)

b. 1 August 1942, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA, and raised in Belgrade, Florida. Wells began singing in gospel groups as a child, and established herself as a secular singer in the early 60s performing in clubs in Philadelphia. She made her recording debut in 1959, and several other singles, but it was not until she was discovered by producer Clyde Otis that her career took off. He arranged for her to be signed to the New York-based Calla Records in 1967 and she immediately had success with the splendid 'After Loving You' (number 31 R&B). Two other excellent records followed that year, 'I Feel Good' (number 33 R&B) and 'Have A Little Mercy' (number 25 R&B), B-sided by the Northern Soul stomper 'With My Love and What You've Got'. Her last chart record was in 1968, and later attempts at recording with other companies were unsuccessful commercially and perhaps artistically, never equalling the thrilling intensity of her Calla singles. It is a great pity that such a great soul voice has such a meagre catalogue. ~

lunes, 16 de marzo de 2009

Dee Dee Warwick: I Want to Be With You - The Mercury/Blue Rock Sessions (1965-69)

Like Darlene Love and Cissy Houston, Dee Dee Warwick's considerable gifts as a soul singer were mostly confined to session work. And like Aretha Franklin's sisters, Dee Dee had to struggle with the shadow of a superstar sibling, Dionne Warwick. Certainly she had the talent to compete as an artist in her own right -possessing a rawer approach than Dionne’s and closer to that of her cousin’s Cissy-, but she only had a sporadic run of small hits in the ‘60s and early-‘70s, and benefited from neither frequent recording opportunities nor substantial promotion from her labels. As a sort of companion to She Didn't Know: The Atco Sessions (though I personally prefer this one), this collection compiles everything she recorded for Mercury/Blue Rock from 1965 to 1969, with two tracks from a later 1973 session. Most of the better-known and significant of Dee Dee's recordings are represented here, including her highest charting and signature song, ‘I Want to Be With You’; besides, it marks the first digital appearance of many other rare songs. Warwick lays into the bluesy ‘That's Not Love’ like Etta James, causing distortion as she hauls off and wails with soul-searing power. The obscure Goffin & King tune ‘Yours Until Tomorrow’ is a should-have-been hit, as is the original version of ‘I'm Gonna Make You Love Me,’ later a smash when the Temptations and the Supremes took it to the charts. Ultimately, Warwick was a substantial talent who didn't find her niche, or land songwriters of the Bacharach/David stature to guide her. This AMAZING compilation -predominantly taken from the original masters but still sounding thin and sometimes shrill- is an important historical item for soul fans. I must add that Dee Dee is one of the very few soul sisters who will always deserve a place on my personal Top Five: she is absolutely fantastic.,
Dee Dee Warwick performing ‘We’re Doing Fine’ on Shivaree (1965) [minute 3:07 to 5:41]:

viernes, 6 de marzo de 2009

Billie Davis: Whatcha gonna do? Singles, Rarities and Unreleased (1963-1966)

Girl singers didn't have much of a chance in the ‘60s, but the few that made it achieved instant and lasting success. Billie Davis would have joined the select patheon of ‘60s Britgirls had the momentum in her early career breakout in 1963, following an incredibly gritty Top 10 UK cover of the Exciters' ‘Tell Him’, not been disrupted by a car accident. By the end of the decade, Billie had gone full circle with recording labels from Decca to Columbia to Pye then Decca again but not before making another classic record (‘I Want You to Be My Baby’) in 1968 that should have been a monster-sized hit, but ended up just missing the Top 30 due to a factory strike that halted the record's distribution. The split of Billie Davis' 1960s recordings between these three different labels also seems to have made it impossible to compile a truly definitive retrospective of her work, which would take two CDs if it were to be complete. Should you want everything she recorded between her two separate stints with Decca Records, however, this compilation is exemplary, even if its omission of that Decca material means that this shouldn't be mistaken for a best of. All of her singles for Columbia and Piccadilly (including the releases as half of blue-eyed soul duo Keith & Billie and the fantastic 'No Other Baby', 'Hands Off' and 'Ev'ry Day') are on this 28 track anthology, along with five previously unreleased 1963 cuts (tracks 1 to 6). I promise I will post the anthology ‘Tell Him: The Decca Years’ -which is a perfect complement to this, and even better-, any other time soon.
Billie Davis' groovy performance of the freakbeat/mod anthem ‘Whatcha Gonna Do?’, which appears in the film Pop Gear (1965):

lunes, 2 de marzo de 2009

Betty Everett: The Fantasy Years (1970-75)

During a prolific recording career that spanned two decades, Betty Everett proved to be a producer’s dream, able to tackle all manner of material -be it blues, pop, or soul- with an uncanny combination of authority and vulnerability. Her diction was always crystalline, and her emotive, remarkably elastic mezzo-soprano tones had an aching quality that tugged at the heart-strings. Betty Everett began recording for Cobra in 1958, then joined Vee-Jay in the early '60s and started to land hit records. ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss),’ was her first major release, peaking at number six pop in 1964. Her next success was the duet ‘Let it Be Me’ with Jerry Butler, a soul version of the Everly Brothers tune that reached number five R&B that same year. Everett's finest song as a solo act was 1969's ‘There'll Come a Time,’ which reached number 2 on the R&B charts and also cracked the pop Top 30 at number 26. Everett was now on Uni, where she remained until 1970. She continued recording for Fantasy Records until 1974 and made one other record for United Artists in 1978. This collection brings together the best of her work for Fantasy between 1970 and 1975, and finds Calvin Carter, Willie Mitchell and Carles Chalmers, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, and Gene and Billy Page taking turns in the producer’s seat. Included are the hits ‘I Got to Tell Somebody’, ‘Ain’t Noting Gonna Change Me’, ‘Danger’ and the sizzlingly funky ‘Sweet Dan’. She is one of my favourite soul singers.