Betty Wright – 1968 – My First Time Around / 1973 – Hard To Stop
Betty Wright – 1968 – My First Time Around
A late 60s southern soul gem from then 14-year-old belter Betty Wright, her early singles for the Alston label that eventually became her debut album for Atlantic. Clarence Reid wrote most of the tracks, with arrangements and production handled by Steve Alaimo’s Marlin Productions. It’s done in the raw southern soul style which made that organization’s name at the time and Betty carries that groove incredibly well, as well as a woman of any age group! Essential!
This is a @320 vinyl rip of the original Atco LP including covers
A1 Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do (2:04)
A2 Funny How Love Grows Cold (2:51)
A3 I’m Gonna Hate Myself In The Morning (2:11)
A4 Circle Of Heartbreak (2:58)
A5 Sweet Lovin’ Daddy (2:25)
A6 Cry Like A Baby (2:34)
B1 Watch Out Love (2:41)
B2 He’s Bad, Bad, Bad (2:22)
B3 I Can’t Stop My Heart (3:24)
B4 I’m Thankful (2:03)
B5 The Best Girls Don’t Always Win (3:08)
B6 Just You (3:06)
Betty Wright is like the female Bill Withers; that is to say, she’s an excellent soul artist even more criminally overlooked in current times than Withers, who had his own recent critical revival. The re-release of My First Time Around, one of Wright’s first records to really show her talent, might help getting her own movement going. As a barely-known album, recorded when Wright was just 14 years old, this re-release sounds like the revelation it must have been to the few people to catch it its first time around.
Remembered primarily for one Atlantic hit, “Clean Up Woman,” Ms. Wright has been in the news lately for helping 18-year-old Joss Stone sound like a credible soul singer. Wright was writing her own songs at an even younger age: My First Time Around has crackling stories of the kind of love you regret even while you’re making it (“I’m Gonna Hate Myself In The Morning”), with men you should be ashamed to know (“He’s Bad, Bad, Bad”). It’s hard to imagine how a 14-year-old Wright knew so much about that sort of subject matter, but no song here strikes a false note, not even the few happy spots, like the romantic hymnal “I’m Thankful.”
The music, provided by a fairly unknown group of musicians then working for Henry Stone’s Alston label, is note-for-note perfect, from the organ accenting “Circle of Heartbreak” to the horn section on “Girls Can’t Do What The Guys Do,” appropriately the record’s hit single. In an alternate universe where artists get the recognition they deserve, Betty Wright is as well-known as Aretha Franklin. Now that My First Time Around is available again, hopefully the rest of us in this dimension will finally catch up. (By Josh Drimmer)
Since there’s no available video of this album, enjoy “The Babysitter” from “Hard To Stop”
Betty Wright – 1973 – Hard To Stop
A deep soul classic from Betty Wright one of her earliest albums of the 70s, and a Miami soul landmark that was one of the greatest female southern soul records of the time! Although Betty was well known for her earlier hit “Clean Up Woman”, she didn’t give into that fame — and keeps things mighty real on this set by working in a slow-burning deep soul mode. The vibe is nice and laidback, with plenty of mellow keyboard touches, subdued horn passages, and round, full sound served up to perfection by producers Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke.
This is a @320 vinyl rip of the original Alston LP including covers
A1 I Am Woman (4:20)
A2 Sweet Wonder (2:26)
A3 The Experts (3:02)
A4 We The Two Of Us (3:00)
A5 Let Me Go Down (2:57)
B1 Gimme Back My Man (3:28)
B2 Who’ll Be The Fool (3:17)
B3 The Babysitter (3:02)
B4 If You Think You’ve Got Soul (2:15)
B5 It’s Hard To Stop (Doing Something When It’s Good To You) (3:14)
While Hard to Stop lacked a big classic hit on the order of “Clean Up Woman,” it was a very solid and varied platter of early-’70s soul. Distinguished by the tight, lean Miami funk-soul of the backup players (particularly guitarist Willie “Little Beaver” Hale), it did offer a couple of pretty big R&B hits with the jittery rhythms of “The Babysitter” and “It’s Hard to Stop (Doing Something When It’s Good to You),” which was about as bluesy as soul got in 1973. A far more off-the-wall highlight was the radical reinterpretation of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman,” which changed it from a hokey pop tune into something that sounded far more grittily proud and defiant. However, it’s a pretty consistent record throughout, with other cuts of note including “We the Two of Us,” which has a great effervescent Miami organ, and “If You Think You’ve Got Soul,” which weaves in and out of a quasi-tropical groove. The “Clean Up Woman” guitar rhythm is reprised on “Gimme Back My Man,” though to less memorable effect than on the hit single.
Uncut – p.122 4 stars out of 5 – “The album finds her growing effortlessly into her role as the leading lady of Miami soul with powerful treatises on love and womanhood…”
Mojo – p.116 “A solid example of pre-disco Miami soul, featuring rubbery grooves much looser than Memphis stuff.”
But Betty’s best career album is “Danger High Voltage” which you can find it here in our back pages.