Friday, February 26, 2010


Betty LaVette’s latest CD latest CD, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook is due May 25. Produced by Bettye, Rob Mathes and Michael Stevens, the album is a 13-song journey through compositions by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd among others, before concluding right where the very idea for "Interpretations" started: Bettye’s visceral show-stopping rendition of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" from the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors, which appears here as a bonus track. That performance - which first brought Bettye together with Stevens (the event's producer) and Mathes (its musical director) - served notice that Bettye is no mere singer. As an extraordinary interpreter of song, she doesn't merely mold a piece of music to suit her tastes; she is a conjurer of deep, emotional truths: "Bettye LaVette punched a hole right through her version of Pete Townshend's 'Love Reign O'er Me,' letting all the song's emotion pour out in a way that its creators never conceived," observed the New York Daily News. Townshend himself came up to Bettye after her performance, took her hands into his and said, "You made me weep."

Throughout Interpretations, her performances are a revelation not just of raw emotion, but of the inexorable ties between British rock 'n' roll and the American blues and R&B, which when combined, catalyzed popular music. That Lennon, McCartney, and so many others who crossed the Atlantic in their wake, were deeply influenced by American music is no great secret. What Bettye demonstrates here so convincingly is the degree to which rock 'n' roll and American soul remain bound by bloodlines.

The Beatles' pre-psychedelic Rubber Soul classic "The Word" takes on an almost religious fervor, while Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" is transformed from a majestic pop song into a stark, almost desperate expression of devotion. Profound alienation becomes intense longing on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here," and the wistful naiveté of The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin" matures into a deep and unshakeable lament. Bettye inhabits these songs, revitalizes them and exposes the humanity that makes these 13 tracks not just pop songs, but enduring works of art.

The full track listing for Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook is as follows:

The Word (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
No Time To Live (James Capaldi/Stephen Winwood)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Bennie Benjamin/Gloria Caldwell/Sol Marcus)
All My Love (John Baldwin/Robert Plant)
Isn't It A Pity (George Harrison)
Wish You Were Here (David Gilmour/Roger Waters)
It Don't Come Easy (Richard Starkey)
Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney)
Salt Of The Earth (Michael Jagger/Keith Richards)
Nights In White Satin (David Hayward)
Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock)
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John/Bernard Taupin)
Love Reign O'er Me (Peter Townshend) [BONUS TRACK]

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...