Sampling Of The Career Of A Superb Country Soul Artist
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Betty Jean Champion was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on October 24, 1944 and began her singing career at the start of the 1960s as a member of The Fawns. As a solo artist under her new stage name, and with a LA-based Money recording contract, she was handed a tune written by Carolyn Franklin, Don't Wait Too Long, and saw it go to # 21 R&B and reach # 131 on the Billboard Pop Hot 100 "bubble under" charts in March 1965 b/w What Is My Life Coming To?
This modest beginning was then followed by two flops that same year, The Man Who Said No/What Can It Be? and The Heartache Is Gone/Our Love. There were no Money releases at all in 1966, but in June 1967 she scored her greatest hit ever when Make Me Yours went all the way to # 1 R&B and a quite respectable # 21 on the Hot 100 b/w I Will Not Cry.
The follow-up Fall In Love With Me didn't do nearly as well, however, reaching only # 36 R&B/# 67 Hot 100 that October b/w Lonely Love. and this was followed by two more failures, Don't Look Back/You Gave Me Love and I Think I'm Falling In Love/Don't Take My Mind. In between she had her first album released, appropriately titled Make Me Yours, containing the afore-mentioned singles along with A Change Is Gonna Come and something that hinted at future directions as a purveyor of Country soul - the Don Gibson Country classic I Can't Stop Loving You.
After a two-year absence from the charts she was hired by Capitol where she delivered several vastly underrated [and uncharted] singles that should have fared better, among them Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me/Willie And Laura Mae Jones. Then came her second-best hit ever, Don't Touch Me, which went to # 14 R&B/# 37 Hot 100 in early 1969. She also cut two more albums for Capitol, The Soul View Now and Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me? each of which continued to demonstrate her preference for Country with selections like Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye, Sweet Dreams, Stand By Your Man, and Today I Started Loving You Again.
After a brief stopover with the Fame label in 1971 [I'm Just Living A Lie/I Can't Let You Break My Heart], a move to Atlantic Records did not change her Country soul focus and in 1972 she had Victim Of A Foolish Heart go to # 16 R&B/# 63 Hot 100 in July, followed late that year by a re-recording of the Merle Haggard hit Today I Started Loving You Again [# 26 R&B/# 46 Hot 100]. That would be her final pop entry, but four more R&B hits would follow, the last coming in 1976 for Big Tree when a duet with Sam Dees, Storybook Children, reached # 84.
After that she just seemed to disappear from view which is too bad because, at age 32, her voice was at its peak. While this otherwise excellent U.K. release with its beautiful sound reproduction and extensive liner notes focuses on her Money years, the real gems are to be found in those Capitol and Atlantic releases which, hopefully, will be produced rogether on one CD in the not-too-distant future."