Betty Wright

Band members                             Related acts

- Betty Wright (RIP 2020) -- vocals


  supporting musicians (1973)

- Arnold Albury -- keyboards

- Ron Bogdon -- bass, horns

- Fred Bigert -- keyboards

- Harry Wayne "K.C." Casey -- backing vocals

- Fermin Goytisolo -- percussion

- Willie "Beaver" Hale -- guitar

- Jeannette Holloway -- backing vocals

- AL Kooper -- keyboards

- Bennu Latimore -- keyboards

- Mike Lewis -- horns

- Joey Murcia -- guitar

-  Ivan "Breeze" Olander -- drums, percussion

- Bobby "Birdwatcher" Pucetti -- keyboards

- Clarence Reid -- keyboard

- Joanne Shelby -- vocals, keyboards, background vocals

- Gerald "Eli" Smith -- sax

- Vinny Tano -- horns

- Simon Taylor -- percussion

- Philip Wright -- guitar





- none known





Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Hard To Stop

Company: Alston

Catalog: SD 7026

Year: 1973

Country/State: Miami, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+

Comments: minor cover wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: --

Price: $25.00


Co-produced by Willie Clarke, Clarence Reid, and Steve Alaimo, 1973's "Hard To Stop" was one of Betty Wright's most consistent albums.  It failed to achieve the commercial recognition of some of her earlier projects and lacked a "big" commercial single, but song for song, it was easily as good as anything else in her catalog.  The album was also interesting given Wright was credited with co-writing four of the tracks - 'Sweet Wonder', 'We the Two', 'The Babysitter and 'It's Hard To Stop (Doing Something When It's Good To You).'   While Wright remained a fine singer, the flat sales may have had something to do with the fact the album featured a surprisingly diverse set of material covering the spectrum from standard soul ballads ('Let Me Go Down'), to pop hit remakes (Helen Reddy's 'I Am Woman'), and even Latin- tinged dance track 'If You Think You Got Soul.'  One of the things I've always enjoyed about this album is the fact it showcases a pre-"shocking" Wright.  Tracks like the 'Clean Up Woman' remakes 'Gimme Back My Man;' and 'The Babysitter', and the innocent 'The Experts' showed Wright still trying to be a classic soul singer, as opposed to falling victim to the Betty Davis/Millie Jackson school of sexual outrageousness.


"Hard To Stop" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Am Woman   Helen Ready - Ray Burton) - 4:20   rating: *** stars

For better, or worse I grew up with the Helen Reddy version flooding the airwaves.  Nothing wrong with the original.  The sentiments remain admirable some five decades later.  Whe the exception of the opening spoken word vamp, Wright's version wasn't significantly different, though she brought a soul edge to the tune that Australian Reddy could never dream of.

2.) Sweet Wonder   (Joanne Shelby - Willie Clarke - Betty Wright) - 2:26   rating: **** stars

One of three tracks co-written by Wright, 'Sweet Wonder' surrounded her with a glistening Motown-ish arrangement and a hook that was sticky like flypaper.  Come to think about it, Wright's performance reminded me a little of a young Aretha Franklin.  One of the album highlights.

3.) The Experts   (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke) - 3:02   rating: **** stars

\With a bouncy, propulsive keyboard powered melody, the funny title and innocent lyrics always make me smile.  The song also provided a good example of how Wright was able to hit the vocal accelerator and go from first to fifth gear in a second.  Another tune that was ready ready.

4.) We The Two of Us   (Betty Wright - Willie Clarke) - 3:00   rating: **** stars

'We The Two of Us' was one of those silky smooth ballads that were perfect for a wedding celebration.  Arnold Albury's stabbing organ washes were icing on the cake. 

5.) Let Me Go Down   (Al Kooper - Joanne Bones) - 2:57   rating: *** stars

Hum, an Al Kooper cover.  Interesting and surprising choice.  Yes, the title momentarily caught my attention ...  A big, soulful ballad, Wright's performance was very good, but the tired-of-being-hurt song lacked anything to distinguish it from scores of others in the genre.


(side 2)
1.) Gimme Back My Man   (Billy Kennedy) - 3:28
   rating: **** stars

Maybe I'm being a smartass, but Billy Kennedy's 'Gimme Back My Man' came awfully close to mimicking 'Clean Up Woman.'   On the other hand, given how good the original was, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but the similarity was certainly there.

2.) Who'll Be the Fool   (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke - Howard Wayne Casey) - 3:17   rating: **** stars

Classic soul ballad that showcased Wright at her most vulnerable and attractive state.

3.) The Babysitter  (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke - Betty Wright) - 3:02

Perhaps not the most original concept, but you had to admit that 'The Babysitter' was the album's most commercial performance.  Funny and insightful with a hysterical harmonica riff.  Always wondered why the single credited the track as 'Baby Sitter.'  Alston tapped it as the lead-off single:





- 1973's The Babysitter' b/w 'Outside Woman' (Alston catalog number A-4614)






4.) If You Think You Got Soul   (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke) - 2:15   rating: **** stars

Latin-tinged percussion and horns coupled with an interesting lyric made for another highlight.  Kudos to underscoring Americans didn't have a monopoly on soul.  LOL

5.) It's Hard To Stop (Doing Something When It's Good To You)  (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke - Betty Wright) - 3:14

Wright at her funkiest.  Yeah, it was a taste of Wright's future direction, but here the aim wasn't in-your-face outrageousness.  The song served as the album's second single:





- 1973's 'It's Hard To Stop (Doing Something When It's Good To You)' b/w 'Who'll Be the Fool' (Alston catalog number A-4617)






Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Betty Wright Live

Company: Alston

Catalog: AL-4408

Year: 1978

Country/State: Miami, Florida

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened and torn) 

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5903

Price: $15.00


Yeah, 1978's "Betty Wright Live" was billed as a live set, but there was no way this one was an in-concert performance.  The performances were simply too smooth and anyone listening to the audience sounds would recognize them as being overdubbed.  It may have been recorded live in the studio, but it sure wasn't in front of a concert hall crowd.  That false advertising didn't necessary destroy the set.  Even though Wright sounded lame surrounded by the faked applause, she had such a good voice that she managed to salvage about a quarter of the collection.  It just was a sad document given the woman's immense talent.  All told it made for a strange marketing move that was hardly one of her standout releases.


"Betty Wright Live" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Love Is Really My Game   (Bobby Womack - Woods) - 5:18  rating: ** stars

Wright had a wonderful old school soul voice so it was a disappointment hearing her waste it on a quasi-dance number like 'Love Is Really My Game'.  The fact she roared through the song at hyper-speed made you wonder if it was a song she thought all that much about. 

2.) Tonight Is the Night   (Betty Wright - Willie Clarke) - 8:07  rating: ** stars

Wright's extended opening biographical vamp was kind of funny, but it seemed to go on forever so that by the time she actually started singing 'Tonight Is the Night' you'd lost a big chunk of  interest.  Easy to see why her mom was appalled by this one ...  Not so easy to see why it was tapped as a single:





- 1978's 'Tonight Is the Night (rap)' b/w 'Tonight Is the Night (song)' (Alston catalog number 3740) # 11 R&B







3.) A Song for You   (Leon Russell) - 7:25  rating: ** stars

A bluesy ballad that allowed her to stretch out a little, 'A Song for You' simply never managed to get into gear.  The fact the song was over seven minutes long made for a pretty lengthy gap in the proceedings.    


(side 2)
1.) Clean Up Woman   (Clarence Reid - Willie Clarke) - 11:37  rating: ** stars

'Clean Up Woman' may not have been her best song, but it was the one she's mostly widely known for.  There was no denying it was a classic slice of '70s soul, but Wright all but ignored it with her weird 11 minute medley.  Instead of showcasing the song, she spent most of the performance doing a series of impersonations - Sylvia, Chaka Kahn, Maria Muldaur, Billy Paul, The O'Jays, and Al Green.  Strange ...   

2.) Medley

    i.) Pillow Talk   (Michael Burton - Sylvia Robinson) 

    ii.) You Got the Love   (Chaka Kahn - Ray Parker)

    iii.) Mr. Melody   (Marvin Yancey)

    iv.) Midnight At the Oasis   (David Mitchum)

    v.) Me and Mrs. Jones   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff)

    vi.) You Are My Sunshine   (Jim Davis)

    vii.) Let's Get Married Today   (Al Green) 

    vii.) You Can't See for Lookin'   (Betty Wright - Willie Clarke)   rating: ** stars

Co-written by Wright and Willie Clarke, You Can't See for Lookin' ' was another ballad that didn't reallay kick into gear until it hit the chorus.   rating: ** stars  

    viii.) Where Is the Love   (Howard Wayne Casey - R. Finch - Betty Wright - Willie Clarke) -   rating: ** stars

- Closing the album with the disco-ish 'Where Is the Love' didn't do a great deal to garner favor in my book.   





Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Travelin' In the Right Circle

Company: Alston

Catalog: ALS-4410

Year: 1979

Country/State: Miami, Florida

Grade (cover/record): NM/NM

Comments: was sealed; shrink wrap opened and LP played once

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4332

Price: $12.00

Cost: $66.00


I'll readily admit to being a Betty Wright fan, but this self-produced 1979 album doesn't do much for me.  Wright's voice remains in fine form, but most of "Travelin' In the Wright Circle" sounds bland and unenthusiastic.  The fact there are a couple of discofied numbers ('Open the Door to Your Heart' and 'Listen to the Music (Dance)' doesn't exactly help the proceedings.  That said, Wright's simply too talented to turn in a set without at least a couple of redeeming numbers.  In this case 'Child of the Man' has a nice old school feel to it, while excluding the needless vamp the pretty ballad 'My Love Is' is probably the standout track.  Also in Wright's defense, part of the problem may have stemmed from her increasingly unfriendly business relationship with Henry Stone and Alston Records - in fact this would be her final studio release for the company.  

"Travelin' In the Wright Circle" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I'm Telling You Now   (Betty Wright - J. McCray) - 4:44
2.) Child of the Man   (R. Webb - B. Kendrick - Better Wright) - 4:24
3.) You're Just What I Need   (G. Greene Betty Wright) - 4:05
4.) My Love Is   (J. McCray - Betty Wright) - 5:48

(side 2)
1.) Open the Door to Your Heart  (Darrell Banks) / Love Train   (Kenny Gamble - Leon Huff) - 5:18
2.) I Believe It's Love   (Betty Wright - J. McCray) - 4:04
3.) Thank You for the Many Things You've Done   (Betty Wright - F. Fergeson) - 5:52
4.) Listen to the Music (Dance)  (R. Kendrick - Betty Wright) - 5:10