BETTYE LAVETTE: ‘Tell Me A Lie’ (Label: Reel Music)

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  • BETTYE LAVETTE: ‘Tell Me A Lie’ (Label: Reel Music)

It seemed a dream deal when Bettye LaVette signed to Motown in 1982. Times had been hard for the raspy-voiced singer from Muskegon, Michigan, who’d been unable to replicate the commercial success of her 1962 Top 10 smash for Atlantic, ‘My Man – He’s A Lovin’ Man.’ Sadly, though, LaVette arrived at Motown at the wrong time – although Stevie and Smokey were still on the label’s books, it was a new generation of bright, shiny, pop-inflected acts that were getting all the attention (think Rick James, Mary Jane Girls and the Dazz Band). Even so, LaVette together with Nashville producer, Steve Buckingham, pulled this ace collection of country-soul out of the hat. The set’s dated remarkable well due to a conspicuous absence of ’80s electronic gadgetry and thanks to meticulous remastering (from the first generation Motown masters) the music sounds as fresh as the day the songs were recorded in a Nashville studio. The highlights include ‘Right In The Middle (Of Falling In Love)’ – issued as a 45 by Motown back in the day – and the funk-infused ‘I Can’s Stop.’ Also listen out for an enthralling version of Gladys Knights’ ‘If I Were Your Woman’ – which Bettye stamps with her singular soulful authority – as well as a zesty revamp of the Gladys Knight/Marvin Gaye classic, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine.’ Sadly, back in 1982, ‘Tell Me A Lie’ – which was probably poorly promoted – didn’t find favour with the public and quickly fell into obscurity. Now, however, this excellent reissue means that soul fans can rediscover a lost classic. For more info go to:

(CW) 4/5