Sign up for our mailing list Real artists creating records on their own terms
Close

Sign up for our mailing list

News

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Bettye LaVette Bridges The Atlantic With New CD 'Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook'

BETTYE LAVETTE brings the British Invasion home to its American R&B roots on her latest CD, INTERPRETATIONS: THE BRITISH ROCK SONGBOOK, due May 25 on Anti-. While BETTYE's Grammy-nominated 2007 disc The Scene Of The Crime went to the source to find triumph over her own anguish, INTERPRETATIONS looks to the past this time for inspiration and uncovers common ancestry in seemingly divergent musical paths.

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.

Such mastery hardly comes as a surprise to at least one legend featured here. Elton John (whose "Talking Old Soldiers" appeared on The Scene Of The Crime) offers this endorsement of BETTYE's impassioned take on "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me":

"Bettye LaVette has always been a wonderful singer - I have been a huge fan for many years. To my delight and surprise she recorded an amazing version of 'Talking Old Soldiers' - a song that nobody else has covered - and made it her own.

"Now she has recorded 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' and has done exactly the same - but this time with a much more familiar song. I am truly touched by her picking these songs and can only hope that this album brings more attention to this incredible artist."

The full track listing for INTERPRETATIONS: THE BRITISH ROCK SONGBOOK is as follows:

1. The Word (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) 2. No Time To Live (James Capaldi/Stephen Winwood) 3. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Bennie Benjamin/Gloria Caldwell/Sol Marcus) 4. All My Love (John Baldwin/Robert Plant) 5. Isn't It A Pity (George Harrison) 6. Wish You Were Here (David Gilmour/Roger Waters) 7. It Don't Come Easy (Richard Starkey) 8. Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney) 9. Salt Of The Earth (Michael Jagger/Keith Richards) 10. Nights In White Satin (David Hayward) 11. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) 12. Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John/Bernard Taupin) 13. Love Reign O'er Me (Peter Townshend) [BONUS TRACK]

Facebook | Twitter
 

Browse by Artist

1664All Artists 97Tom Waits 69Mavis Staples 57Neko Case 51Lost In The Trees 50Sean Rowe 48Dr. Dog 44The Milk Carton Kids
41Jolie Holland 40Bettye LaVette 37Man Man 35Tinariwen 33Tim Fite 33DeVotchKa 31Islands 31Grinderman 30Son Little 27Galactic 27Wilco 27Saintseneca 24Michael Franti and Spe... 23Glen Hansard 22Bob Mould 22William Elliott Whitmo... 22Doe Paoro 21Nick Cave & The Bad Se... 21The Frames 20Joe Henry 19Booker T. Jones 19Sage Francis 18Christopher Paul Stell... 17John K. Samson 17Yann Tiersen 17Deafheaven 16Ramblin Jack Elliott 16Jason Lytle 14Xenia Rubinos 14Prism Tats 14Delicate Steve 13Daniel Lanois 13Billy Bragg 13Andy Shauf 13The Drums 12Xavier Rudd 12Peter Silberman 11The Weakerthans 11Lyrics Born 11Rain Machine 11Mose Allison 11Roky Erickson 11The Antlers 11Calexico 10The Swell Season 10The Melodic 10So Much Light 10Cass McCombs 10Jade Jackson 10The Dream Syndicate 9Marianne Faithfull 9N.A.S.A. 9Cameron Avery 9Ryan Pollie 8Solillaquists of Sound 8Greg Graffin 8Cadence Weapon 8The Coup 7Elliott Smith 7Eddie Izzard 7Dead Man's Bones 7Alec Ounsworth 7Beth Orton 7Kelly Hogan 7Title Fight 7Ben Harper and Charlie... 7Richard Reed Parry 6A Girl Called Eddy 6Busdriver 6Os Mutantes 6Kate Bush 6Broken Twin 6Girlpool 6Yves Jarvis 5One Day As A Lion 5The Field 5Keaton Henson 5Beat Connection 5Japandroids 5Foxwarren 5Jeremy Ivey 4Ersi Arvizu 4Marketa Irglova 4Pops Staples 4Curtis Harding 4Rafiq Bhatia 4Combo Chimbita 4Boy Scouts 3Danny Cohen 3Sierra Leones Refugee... 3Petra Haden 3Walter Wolfman Washing... 3Mothers 3Marc Ribot 3Wynonna 3Darrin Bradbury 2Various Artists: RANGO 2Jeff Tweedy 2Glitterer 2The Good Ones 1Tricky 1Joe Strummer And The M... 1Youth Group 1Blackalicious 1Antibalas 1Porter Wagoner 1Various Artists: ROGUE... 1The Locust 1Rogue's Gallery 1Kronos Quartet with Br... 1Simian Mobile Disco 1case/lang/veirs 1Merle Haggard 1Lido Pimienta 1Ben Harper 1Purr
See Full List+