When R&B diva Bettye LaVette finishes off her aching, soul-drenched version of Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" on her latest album, it's listeners who are left amazed. And we're talking slack-jawed astonishment here, just a notch below the full-fledged stupefaction doubtless experienced by anyone newly discovering LaVette, the 65-year-old wonder who exploded from 40 years of obscurity and in the virtual blink of eye was ranked alongside Aretha as soul royalty. LaVette similarly seizes as her own the remainder of Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, a collection of songs universally hot-wired into the brains of '60s and '70s rock fans courtesy of formidable bands like the Beatles, Stones, Who, and Led Zeppelin. Undaunted, LaVette dramatically reinvents every one, bleeding her own raw emotions into familiar lyrics that suddenly take on entirely new echelons of meaning: Ringo's "It Don't Come Easy" as simmering swamp-blues lacerated with pain; a tight, blistering, horn-driven R&B romp through Derek and the Dominos' "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?"; the Beatles' "The Word" as a scorching funk workout; a chilling, heart-wrenching reading of Traffic's "No Time to Live"; a growling, slinky, wicked run through the Animals' "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood." Amazing.
Mondays, Tuesdays, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Starts: Aug. 9. Continues through Aug. 10, 2010