The finest tracks from right across an illustrious soul career.
This is the first-ever overview of Bettye Swann’s career. Recording with producers Arthur Wright at Money, Wayne Shuler at Capitol, Rick Hall at Fame and Tony Bell, Phil Hurtt and LeBaron Taylor atAtlanticgave Bettye’s recordings the best credentials and sympathetic productions for her beautiful voice. She had an R&B #1 with ‘Make Me Yours’, another five respectable hits and four more that made the lower reaches of the charts. Although not particularly successful chart-wise, her 20-plus singles and three LPs, which crossed from the Motown sound via country to Philly soul, were of such high quality that she is spoken of with great respect by all soul fans.
Bettye began her career as a shy teenager with a handful of self-penned songs. Recorded in her adopted home of Los Angeles, they included the upbeat ‘I Think I’m Falling In Love’ and the mid-tempo classic ‘Make Me Yours’. By her third single she was singing slower numbers and her Money LP saw her covering other artists’ ballads in her own style. A move to Capitol in 1968 produced country-influenced songs beloved of southern soul fans and ballads such as Chip Taylor’s ‘Angel Of The Morning’ and her own ‘(My Heart Is) Closed For The Season’. Fame recordings at Muscle Shoals cemented that southern link, which continued at Atlantic with George Jackson and Mickey Buckins’ ‘Victim Of A Foolish Heart’. A change of tack saw her sent to Philadelphia for up-tempo dance sides ‘Kiss My Love Goodbye’ and ‘When The Game Is Played On You’ and gorgeous ballads such as ‘Time To Say Goodbye’. Despite the brilliance of her released sides, it could be argued that Atlantic left the best number in the can – the heart-wrenching slowie ‘Either You Love Me Or You Leave Me’. Also neglected was the mid-tempo beauty ‘I Want Sunday Back Again’.
Bettye largely kept her own counsel following her final 45 in 1976, which added to her mystique. Her one foray into the public eye was an appearance at the Cleethorpes soul weekender in 2013 which demonstrated what we have missed over the last four decades.