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Tell Me a Lie

Bettye LaVette

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Reseña de álbum

Muskegon, MI, native Bettye LaVette began her long career at the age of 16 with Detroit's Lupine and Northern imprints before being snapped up by Atlantic where she scored her first hit, "My Man — He's a Lovin' Man." She spent the next 20 years shuffling from one independent to another, and even participated in a three-year run of the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar on Broadway. She eventually signed to Motown in 1981, where she cut this underrated masterpiece of a soul album in 1982. Tell Me a Lie may have been released on the Detroit-born, Los Angeles-based label, but it was cut halfway across the country in a country music studio in Nashville with producer Steve Buckingham, and sounded more like it came from Muscle Shoals than Detroit. The first thing is that it sounds so out of its time. Soul in the 1980s had been following the paths of disco and neo-funk: Motown's own stable included hitmakers like DeBarge, the Dazz Band, and Rick James, while the label's longtime artists were still cutting some hits, though Diana Ross had left for RCA and Marvin Gaye was soon to depart for Columbia. So this strange concoction hit the shelves, scored some great reviews, but was out of the mainstream despite being a solid soul date. Buckingham was smart: he allowed LaVette to chose from about 30 songs, and he cut her vocals live from the floor of his Nashville studio in front of a rhythm section. That feel permeates every note of this ten-song set.

The album's strongest tracks are straight-up soul burners. There's the opener, "Right in the Middle (Of Falling in Love)," penned by Sam Dees; an updated "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (with killer Fender Rhodes work, a funky bassline, and a shimmering synth line in the backdrop just below the strings); and the killer read of the title track (by Mickey Buckins and Barbara Wyrick), which had been cut by a number of country artists such as Janie Fricke and Lynn Anderson as well as by soul singer Louise Freeman. This version leaves the rest in the dust. A more modern soul tune, "I Like It Like That" (another Wyrick number) was a model for the Pointer Sisters hits of the era. The one nod to true contemporary dancefloor and radio fashion is "I Can't Stop," written by Buckins with Randy McCormick, but it falls flat — and did upon release, since it didn't even chart as the set's second single. On an album full of anomalies, the track "Suspicions" was another one; it had been a minor hit for one of its co-writers, the late country star Eddie Rabbitt, but here it's pure quiet storm. This set only got to number 48 and spent only five weeks on the chart, but it sold reasonably well, and time has only proven it deserved better than it got. Universal Special Markets issued it on CD for the first time domestically in 2008 on its Reel Music imprint, with authoritative liner notes by A. Scott Galloway and great sound. This is highly recommended for any fan of Bettye LaVette.


Nacido(a): 26 de enero de 1946 en Muskegon, MI

Género: R&B/Soul

Años de actividad: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A perennial cult favorite in Northern soul circles, singer Bettye LaVette was born in Muskegon, MI, on January 29, 1946. Raised primarily across the state in Detroit, at 16 she cut her first sides for the local Lupine label, with a test pressing of the disc making its way to Atlantic Records. After signing with Atlantic, she scored an R&B Top Ten hit out of the box with her debut single, "My Man — He's a Loving Man," only to fail to reach the same commercial heights again. After one more...
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Tell Me a Lie, Bettye LaVette
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