Betty Harris – Soul Perfection (Vinyl)


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A1 Ride Your Pony
A2 What A Sad Feeling
A3 Bad Luck
A4 I’m Gonna Git Ya
A5 Show It
A6 Can’t Last Much Longer
A7 I Don’t Wanna Hear It
A8 Sometime
B1 Mean Man
B2 Lonely Hearts
B3 Hook Line ‘N’ Sinker
B4 What’d I Do Wrong
B5 Trouble With My Lover
B6 Nearer To You
B7 I’m Evil Tonight
B8 12 Red Roses
Subtitled “complete Jubilee, Sansu, SSS International masters, 1963-1969,” this is a thorough retrospective of the minor but quality soul singer’s 1960s work. The Jubilee sides, all from 1963 and 1964, are decent New York pop-soul, several of them written by top NYC songwriter-producer Bert Berns, and most of them produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. “Cry to Me” (also done by Solomon Burke, and covered by the Rolling Stones) was the only hit from this batch, but if you like the style you’ll like what’s here; “His Kiss,” for instance, sounds a lot like the songs Burke was doing at the same time. From 1965 to 1969 Harris recorded under the direction of the great New Orleans producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint, who wrote every last one of the 20 Harris sides on this disc that were cut during the collaboration. The presence of an ace producer-songwriter is often what’s needed to make a good, but not great, vocalist like Harris into something special. While the Toussaint material here is satisfying New Orleans soul, it didn’t get Harris over the hump commercially (although “Nearer to You” was an R&B hit), or endure as top-line classic soul. The tracks certainly cover a lot of territory, from the good commercial pop-soul of “What a Sad Feeling” and arching soul balladry of “Can’t Last Much Longer” to numbers whose arrangements recall the New Orleans bounce of Lee Dorsey (who duets with Harris on a couple of songs). Some of the later tracks move into the kind of funk associated with the Meters, not a surprise as musicians from the Meters are supposed to have supplied the rhythm section for at least some of these sides.
by Richie Unterberger


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