BETTY LAVETTE & CAROL FRAN - Bluesoul Belles: The Complete Calla, Port & Roulette Recordings (2005)
The stellar Bluesoul Belles spotlights Betty Lavette and Carol Fran, two of the more criminally underrated singers from soul music's mid-'60s golden era. Unearthing two dozen tracks from the Calla, Port, and Roulette vaults, many of them previously unreleased alternate takes, the set offers a persuasive argument that, while never earning the critical respect or commercial kudos of their contemporaries, both women deserve consideration alongside the greats of the period. Lavette's opening "Let Me Down Easy," a staple of the Northern soul scene and the countless anthologies it's yielded, is far and away the most recognizable cut here -- the song is her masterpiece, a blisteringly poignant requiem for romance gone bad distinguished by its unique, tangolike rhythm and sweeping string arrangement. The remaining seven tracks don't reach the same peaks, but from the Motown-inspired stomp of "What I Don't Know (Won't Hurt Me)" to the gospel-inflected "Cry Me a River," Lavette's versatility and raw power ring through loud and clear. Although Lavette receives top billing, Fran's contributions comprise fully two-thirds of the disc; best known for her latter-day blues efforts with guitarist husband Clarence Holliman, the aching beauty of her mid-'60s soul sides is revelatory. Though rooted in the blues, her crystalline vocals were nevertheless ideally suited to the uptown style and sophistication of her Port dates; the chart failure of these recordings is baffling, and in particular the remarkable "Any Day Love Walks In" merits the label of lost classic. ~ All Music Guide
01. Let Me Down Easy 02. Only Your Love Can Save Me 03. Stand Up Like A Man 04. What I Don't Know (Won't Hurt Me) 05. Cry Me A River 06. She Don't Love You Like I Love You 07. I Feel Good All Over 08. I'm Just A Fool For You
09. A World Without You 10. It's My Turn 11. Just A Letter 12. Any Day Love Walks In 13. C'mon Let's Make Up 14. So Close 15. Roll With The Punches 16. My Runaway Heart 17. You're My Pleasure 18. A Woman In Love 19. I Was Such A Fool 20. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind 21. You Can't Stop Me 22. I Know 23. I'm Gonna Try 24. Crying In The Chapel
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