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Child Of The Seventies

Betty LaVette

Real Gone Music 2015

Review by David Bowling

 

How long does it take to become commercially viable in the music business?  In the case of Betty LaVette, just over four decades.   In 1962, as a 16 year old, she had a top ten R&B hit with “My Man He’s A Lovin’ Man,” By 1972 she was signed to the Atlantic group and after releasing a couple singles, recorded her first full-length album. Titled Child Of The Seventies, it was never released until now.

What initiated a renewed interest in her career was a return to the studio in 2003. Her A Woman Like Me earned her a W.C. Handy Award and she has not looked back. Real Gone Music has now released the complete Child Of The Seventies LP in a 22 track version, which includes several non-album singles and some extra bonus tracks.

LaVette was and remains a gritty rhythm and blues singer with a gospel foundation. From the down and dirty opening track, “It Ain’t Easy,” the music travels in a southern soul direction. She may not be smooth but she is powerful, charismatic, and passionate. Her take of Free’s rock classic, “The Stealer,” is one of the great transformations in American music as she changes the cadence of the melody and puts a completely different emphasis on the lyrics.

She fuses some country rhythms into “If I Can’t Be Your Woman” and “Our Own Love Song.” Her gospel foundation is evident on “Soul Tambourine.” “Your Turn To Cry” may be the best song on the album as it fuses soul and blues into a funky mix.

The music is typical of Muscle Shoals as strings, horns, and even a sitar were added after the vocal tracks to give it a full sound but underneath her voice growls and purrs.

It remains a mystery as to why her album was not issued when it was recorded in 1972. It is old school rhythm and blues at its best.

 

Rating: ****

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