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Scene of the Crime

4.8 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 25, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Her 2005 acclaimed release, "I've Got My Own Hell To Raise", brought well-deserved recognition to this R&B maverick who's been recording since the early 60s. Now comes the almost autobiographical "Scene Of The Crime". To make music this raw and direct, Bettye enlisted "dirty south" rockers The Drive By Truckers as her backup band. With swampy guitars, slippery Wurlitzer piano, and a driving backline, this record conjures up the spirit of great loose 70s bands like the Faces while offering Bettye an urgent, vital setting for her razor-sharp vocals. Recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL, where she recorded "Child Of The Seventies" in 1972 - a masterpiece that was shelved then released 30 years later. Returning to Muscle Shoals was like returning to the scene of a crime; thus the album title, and the intense, personal music within.

Amazon.com

"I've got my mem-mor-eehees," sings Bettye LaVette at the chilling finale of her version of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's obscure "Talking Old Soldiers," holding the last syllable as it fades into a hum while Spooner Oldham's ghostly piano underpins the pain. The singer's whiskey-stained voice infuses those words with a fierce mix of pride, hurt, resignation, sadness, strength, and humility--traits that make her one of the finest R&B singers of her generation. There are other riveting moments rivaling that from this deeply moving set that finds her recording once again at Muscle Shoals' FAME Studios, the same place she created an album in 1972 that Atlantic inexplicably never released. Accompanied by Oldham and the swampy, tightly wound Drive-by Truckers, LaVette digs into material from John Hiatt, Willie Nelson, Frankie Miller, Eddie Hinton, and Don Henley, among others, finding the hidden soul in songs as she rips them apart from the inside out. It's a magnificent performance from a singer who shoots straight, especially on her autobiographical "Before the Money Came (The Battle of Bettye LaVette)," this disc's sole original. The Truckers dial down their raunchy Southern rock, concentrating instead on rugged R&B and creating a greasy collaboration that's as inspired as it is unlikely. Lavette grinds out the intensity, alternating between ballads and roots rockers on a set that never lets up for 40 passionate minutes. Soul music just doesn't get any more fiery, as Bettye Lavette creates indelible images of loves and lives with the voice of one who has walked the talk. --Hal Horowitz

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2007)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Anti
  • ASIN: B000UGG3D2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,346 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Without a doubt, Bettye LaVette is among the very best singers performing today. Much has been written about her astonishing "comeback," which, when compared to others who had big records years ago, came back onto the scene with a hit and then vanished again, there is no "comparison." LaVette is now where she should always have been -- with her peers, the greatest of singers. "When The Money Came" tells it all. I can't get enough of that one.

This new CD really grows on you. That's the case with every album I purchase because usually, I get stuck on one or two tunes that I can't leave alone. On SCENE OF THE CRIME, I became mesmerized by "Talking Old Soldiers," which I listened to 12 times straight before I could pull myself off the floor. Another recent LaVette recording did the same thing to me, her version of Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia," which one critic noted, "doesn't belong to Bruce any longer." Well, "Soldiers" is now Bettye LaVette's.

It's been said, "don't let Aretha Franklin get near one of your songs," well, the same can be said of Miss LaVette. Not only have Bettye's records catapulted her towards the heavens, her electrifying stage performances have "time-traveled" people back in time -- a period when singers didn't need 20 dancers prancing behind them, pyrotechnics and other special effects. LaVette is from the school of "hit the stage, grab the mic and sing your butt off."

With the Grammys being handed out to "artists" of questionable talent and abilities, who just happen to sell a lot of records, wouldn't it be refreshing to see some REAL ARTISTS win for genuine QUALITY work?

Note: Bettye just picked up a Grammy nomination for this album for Best Contemporary Blues Album of 2007.
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Format: Audio CD
There's a focus throughout this set of THE VOICE, and the voice is Bettye LaVette. Recorded in Muscle Shoals and produced by her, together with David Barbe and Patterson Hood there's a sparse stripped down feel to the set which allows plenty of space for her to show off what fantastic condition the voice is in. Add to that the sinuous keyboard work of Spooner Oldham, together with a fine performance by Drive-By Truckers who wrap their sound around her voice, and Oldham's keyboards.
There's not a horn section in sight, and performance is probabaly better for the sparsity that it encourages. The excellent sleeve notes by Patterson Hood (whose father David Hood from the original Fame session band appears on the album as well) suggest that the musicians and the artist found the whole experience cathartic and the intensity of the end produce suggest that it was.
It's one of those albums that is best heard as a whole rather than trying to pick out specific songs, but I'd agree that the reading of Elton John's "Talking Old soldiers" is an unexpected and brilliant reading of an unlikely tune to be recorded in the set.I also like the version of Ray Charles "They call it love" and Ed Petterson and Kim McClean's " I guess we shouldn't talk about that now".
It's an album recorded by an artist who at 61 years old appears to be at the very top of her form, and leads to speculation as to "What next?". Before there's an answer to that is the opportunity to enjoy this fantastic album.
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Format: Audio CD
Bettye LaVette is like a vintage bottle of Bordeaux; she gets better with age. Scene of the Crime picks up where she left us with I've Got My Own Hell to Raise. I'm a relatively new fan having discovered Bettye about three years ago. I've seen her about a half dozen times during these past few years, and always walk away breathless. During this period of time, I've acquired four or five of her older records. I enjoy all of them, but I've got to say, I like the deeper, smokier voice that I hear on the newer ones. In addition to the changes in her range, she's developed the distinguishing characteristic of all the great vocalists I've seen/heard over the past thirty plus years (Sarah Vaughn for example), the ability to make someone else's song their own. She owns the material on this record. This record also has the swampy undertones of the great work that came out of Muscle Shoals in the late Sixties, early Seventies. All in all, it's another long ball from one of the greats.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You've got to believe me, this CD will knock your socks off. It plays like an Elmore Leonard book reads. The songs are like chapters in this remarkable lady's over-looked struggle to find her own soul. And man, she does. And she throws it into your head with no shame.
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Whether you want to call this neo-soul or just straight ahead R&B, Bettye comes alive on this disk. Here is the voice of a mature woman in sound and spirit. She can set 'em up and knock 'em down. What is so astounding to me is the brilliant marriage of the Drive By Truckers with this independent lady. These are songs that can stand alone. When you start to worry that the creative well has run dry, put this CD on for a spin. It is a joy to listen to these well-produced and heartfelt songs. The country influences mix so well with Betye' voice and style. These songs are clean and bare enough to cut through any BS reviews.

I've lent the CD to a friend for an opening of his coffee house. So, I will save any song breakdowns for another time. Suffice to say that this is an exceptional collection of songs by a hopeful and accomplished singer with a tight and swingin' band. Here is the career maker album that has always alluded Bettye until now. What a joy to hear! This one stays in the CD changer.
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