Band members Related acts
- Bettye Crutcher (aka Bettye Jean Crutcher Barnes) (RIP) -- vocals
- We Three
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Long As You Love Me
Country/State: Memphis, Tennessee
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: small bullet hole lower left corner; still in shrink wrap (opened)
Catalog ID: 2150
Sadly her name doesn't attract the attention it deserves given the late Bettye Crutcher was an immensely talented singer, songwriter and producer. Unfortunately good luck finding any real information on the woman, let along her wonderful solo LP.
The mid-1960s found Crutcher living in Memphis. A single parent raising three boys on her own, she paid her bills working as a full time nurse, but had a driving desire to make it in the music business. As a result she worked her medical job all day; fed and put her kids to bed, and then would write and record material into the early hours of the morning. A prolific songwriter she initially tried to score a contract with Hi Records but was turned down by the label. A 1966 audition with Stax didn't go much better with David Porter supposedly telling Crutcher that her material wasn't bluesy enough. A week later Crutcher returned with a slew of bluesy material and was signed on as a staff writer.
Teamed with Homer Banks and Raymond Jackson (known collectively as We Three), the trio almost immediately scored a massive hit in the form of Johnny Taylor's cover of 'Who's Making Love' and over the next three years became one of the biggest sources of hit material for Stax. Following the breakup of the We Three writing team Crutcher continued to enjoy successes on her own. Those successes eventually saw Crutcher given an opportunity to record on her own.
Co-produced by Crutcher and longtime writing partner Mack Rice, 1974's "Long As You Love Me" was a pleasant surprise to me ears. Many folks make their names as songwriters due to the fact they simply couldn't cut it as performers, but it turns out Crutcher was an exception to the rule. Blessed with an attractive, if slightly underpowered voice Crutcher proved herself a more than capable performer on this set. While it wasn't a perfect comparison, on songs like 'Up for a Little Down' Crutcher came off sounding like a tougher Dionne Warwick - imagine Warwick with Memphis soul roots rather than her MOR orientation and you'd be in the ballpark ... Showcasing ten original songs (most co-written with Rice), the set was equally divided between ballads and more up tempo numbers. While ballads like 'Long As You Love Me' and 'Passion' were quite enjoyable, Crutcher was actually at her best on up tempo and slinkier numbers like the funky groover 'When We're Together', 'A Little Bit More Won't Hurt' and the top 40-ready 'Sugar Dady'. That said the set certainly had some limitations. Crutcher lacked the chops to handle a truly gritty song - check out her ragged performance on 'Sunday Morning's Gonna Find Us In Love' and the heavy orchestration occasionally threatened to drown her out (blame arranger Johnny Allen). Maybe not one of the best Stax albums, but well worth checking out.
As You Love Me" track listing:
1.) Long As You Love Me (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice) - 2:52 rating: **** stars
Given her performance on 'Long As You Love Me' you had to wonder how Crutcher was ignored as a singer. The woman had a dandy voice and she seldom sounded as good as on this breezy pop ballad.
2.) When We're Together (Bettye Crutcher) - 3:38 rating: **** stars
Anyone who thought Crutcher was only capable of writing whispy ballads needed to check out the surprisingly funky 'When We're Together'. Nice Curtis Mayfield-styled edge to this one which made it an album highlight.
3.) Passion (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice - Arris Wheaton - 4:20 rating: ** stars
The ballad 'Passion' served as the first mild disappointment. Crutcher's performance was actually quite good, but the song's lounge lizard vibe simply couldn't survive anyone's performance.
4.) A Little Bit More Won't Hurt (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice) - 4:08 rating: **** stars
A slinky blues number with a hook that you could not shake, 'A Little Bit More Won't Hurt' captured Crutcher at her best. All I can say is Stax clearly didn't have a clue what they were doing if they left this one on the table.
5.) Sunday Morning's Gonna Find Us In Love (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice) - 4:55 rating: **** stars
'Sunday Morning's Gonna Find Us In Love' opened up with the kind of bass line James Jamerson would have been proud to have crafted. Always wondered who it was she shared the lead vocals with.
'Sugar Daddy' was the album's funkiest tune, if not necessarily the best performance. A perfect example of how prophets (or in this case stars) are never recognized in their own countries, the song was released as a British single:
- 1974's 'Sugar Daddy' b/w 'As Long As You Love Me' (Stax catalog number STXS 2031)
2.) Call Me When All Else Fails (David Porter - Ronnie Williams - Bettye Crutcher) - 5:01
Nice, if slightly over dramatic break-up tune. rating: *** stars
3.) Up for a Little Down (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice) - 3:24 rating: **** stars
If you're a certain age (say your mid-'50s like me), then you're liable to have fond memories of some of the Bacharach-David tunes Dionne Warwick turned into mega hits. Admittedly many of their collaborations leaned to MOR, but it was quality MOR with hooks that were beyond reproach. Why am I mentioned this? Well the breezy 'Up for a Little Down' could easily have come from the same source - if you've ever smiled when hearing 'Do You Know the Way To San Jose', or 'I Say a Little Prayer' you were liable to get the same feeling listening to this one. Another track where you had to wonder how Stax missed the ball.
4.) So Lonely without You (Bettye Crutcher - Mack Rice) - 2:59 rating: **** stars
Another favorite, 'So Lonely without You' had a wonderful melody and a somewhat atypical bluesy vibe. The song would have been even better without the heavy orchestration.
5.) Sleepy People (Bettye Crutcher) - 4:27 rating:*** stars
Ironically, 'Sleepy People' may have been a little to aptly titled. A slow, slightly jazzy ballad, this one simply never shifted into gears for me
Unfortunately with little promotional support from Stax the album didn't do much commercially.
Readily admitting that she undertook it to make some money, Crutcher also contributed to the soundtrack for the blaxploitation flick "The Klansman".
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