Bettye Swann - a soul legend returns
Sadly, the sound quality was not good, particularly at the start, but Bettye's personality shone through and as the show went on she came to realise just what a great reception she was receiving and a huge grin came over her face. Born in 1944, Bettye looks more like a grandmother today than the beautiful young girl featured in the 1960s photos, but she wore a white trouser suit identical to the one she wore for these early publicity shots. Her set included several of her better known songs, including Victim Of A Foolish Heart, Don't Take My Mind, Today I Started Loving You Again and the more middle of the road I Want Sunday Back Again. But for me, it was her two biggest records - Kiss My Love Goodbye and the classic Make Me Yours - that were the stand outs, and both were reprised in the two encores demanded by the crowd.
One of 14 children, Bettye was born in Arcadia, Louisiana, and moved to Los Angeles aged 19, where she signed for the Money label. After a minor hit with Don't Wait Too Long, she had a huge hit in 1967 with Make Me Yours, which topped the Billboard R and B chart. She moved to Capitol where she had country/soul success with Don't Touch Me and several country numbers recorded with Wayne Shuler, son of Louisiana producer Eddie Shuler, which were released a few years back by Honest Jon's Records. From there she went to Atlantic, where she had minor hits with Kiss My Love Goodbye, Victim Of A Foolish Heart and Today I Started Loving You Again. She duetted with Sam Dees on Storybook Children for Big Tree Records, but within a few years she had retired to Las Vegas, working in education under her married name of Betty Barton and effectively disappearing from view.
But now she's back, and show organiser Ady Croasdell was not exaggerating when he described Bettye's visit to the UK as a 'soul pilgrimage': it certainly was, for everyone who was there, and who at last had a chance to see Bettye in action.
Here are a few of Bettye's classic 45s.
1. Bettye's first Money 45 - Don't Wait Too Long/ What's My Life Coming To. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzrO98I-3J4
2. Her first UK release - Make Me Yours/ I Will Not Cry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elGifrAU5xg
3. Her 1975 duet with Sam Dees - Storybook Children/ Just As Sure. Here's the B-side. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_r1kcNRCdE