Now this truly is wonderful stuff. I'd never heard of Bettye Swann before this disc, but these 22 tracks, recorded between 1968 and 1970, reveal her to be a fine purveyor of soul from its golden era. Once a close friend of the similarly-voiced Candi Staton, Bettye Swann sadly grew rapidly disillusioned of some aspects of the music business, meaning her career was far too brief before she turned her back on singing. Her recorded output is therefore small, but perfectly formed.
In true Ray Charles fashion, Ms Swann takes ample opportunity to show that the "white" music of country and the "black" music of soul were not that far apart, with Hank Cochran's Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me, Don Gibson's Sweet Dreams (made famous by Patsy Cline), Merle Haggard's Today I Started Loving You Again, heck even Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man getting a makeover here - but while Ray Charles added a soulful element to country songs, Bettye Swann would have you believe that they'd been intended as soul numbers all along - smooth vocals, lush harmonies, horn sections, the lot. Alongside songs by the likes of Otis Redding and The Bee Gees, and a handful of self-penned numbers, this is a great reminder of a time when "soul" had exactly that - by the truckload.