Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Bettye LaVette's 1969 Interpretation!
Bettye LaVette - Hey Love
Bettye LaVette's newest album is entitled Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook and, in keeping with Bettye's track record over the last few years, the soul veteran continues to make converts out of her listeners. It is insufficient to say that Bettye covers songs; her very personal style turns others' songs into her own (Ray Charles' similar skill comes to mind right away). Her version of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow" from her "comeback" album I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, her duet with John Bon Jovi at the Obama pre-inaugural concert on Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and her thrilling version of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" from the new project exemplify LaVette's skill.
Take note, though, that Bettye's been showing off her ability to masterfully interpret songs for many years. Although Bettye's take on the Kenny Rogers classic "What Condition My Condition Was In" is often presented as one of her classic '60s covers by rare soul fans, I am very partial to her version of Stevie Wonder's "Hey Love." I consider "Hey Love" to be one of my favorite '60s sides of Stevie's, in part because to my ears the song sounds more like a Chicago soul floater than a Motown record. Ollie McLaughlin produced the LaVette record and released it on Karen in 1969. The "blue light" groove of the original is augmented by a nice strutting groove over which LaVette's intense vocals really shine.