Bettye LaVette “Is” The Rolling Stones

It's funny if you click the Darth Vader NOOOOOO button while looking at this picture.

I like to think that I keep my finger on the pulse. I sniff out news, I hunt down obscure albums to review, and I rend asunder songs and feast on their bulbous, nutritious entrails. Also, I mix my metaphors, and I get confused about time zones and stuff, and sometimes I sleep until 4pm in the afternoon. All of that somehow adds up to the reason that I bring this to you today, only one month late: Bettye LaVette’s splendid cover of the Rolling Stones’ old classic (and let’s face it, their list of new classics is self-flagellatingly short) “Salt of the Earth”. It was the Spinner MP3 of the day on the 9th of April, and so I’ll link you to that.


While also providing you with a handy Soundcloud stream.

Salt of the Earth – Bettye LaVette by ZME Music

It’s a preview of her upcoming Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook album, which promises to be quite wonderful. It’s her first proper album since 2007’s fantastic Scene of the Crime, which – as you’ll find out soon enough – was cruelly denied a place in our yearly Top Ten. (In fact, I’ll take a minute to talk about it here: it’s about as good a record as you’re likely to hear. LaVette is a truly astonishing performer, and for the Scene record, she went back to the old Muscle Shoals studio where her career was meant to take off in the 70s. Her backing band for this venture? The Drive-By Truckers, old Muscle Shoals Swampers regular David Hood and the great Spooner Oldham. It’s a line-up that would have to make a determined effort to fail, and they did not make that effort. It’s a triumph. Case in point: her cover of Talking Old Soldiers. But I digress.)

Interpretations is, as you might have guessed from the title, filled to the brim with covers of old classic British rock, and having just heard about it today (finger on the pulse, etc.) I’m getting really quite excited about it. It’s due out on May 25, which I’ve only just now realised is this month. Where does the time go, eh? The tracklisting:

1. The Word (The Beatles)
2. No Time To Live (Traffic)
3. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Nina Simone, Animals, etc.)
4. All My Love (Led Zeppelin)
5. Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison)
6. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
7. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
8. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
9. Salt Of The Earth (Rolling Stones)
10. Nights In White Satin (Moody Blues)
11. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Derek & The Dominoes)
12. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John)
13. Love Reign O’er Me (The Who) [BONUS TRACK]

And as if that wasn’t enough to get you into a whirlingly anticipative lather, allow me to remind you of LaVette’s performance of Love Reign O’er Me a while back. Then, as you slowly realise your jaw is sitting agape, give your chin a gentle nudge upwards with your thumb, before steepling your fingers and considering the majesty this record could potentially achieve. Yes.

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