May 18, 2010


First Listen: Bettye LaVette, 'Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook' (Stephen Thompson, NPR)

LaVette's voice is so authoritative, in fact, that she's unafraid to reinvent songs that might have otherwise seemed untouchable. It's not that The Moody Blues' "Knights in White Satin," Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" are so unimpeachable that they can't possibly be approached by other singers; it's that they're so often instantly familiar in earlier incarnations. They can't be covered credibly and made fresh by just anybody. But Bettye LaVette is exactly the sort of singer to pull it off, as she does on the new, self-explanatorily titled Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook. A fearless iconoclast, she does these and other songs justice by injecting them with her own warmly brash personality; by burrowing into them and really inhabiting them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 18, 2010 2:50 PM
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