Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Betty Everett - It's Getting Mighty Crowded

Miss Betty Everett
The first time I ever heard ‘It’s Getting Mighty Crowded’ was as a teenager, hearing it performed by Elvis Costello. It was years before I realized that his revved up version was a cover of an old soul 45. I’m ashamed to admit that for the longest time, I turned the dial whenever I heard Betty Everett on the radio, mainly because all I ever heard was the ‘Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)’. That tune ranks for me – along with Fontella Bass’s ‘Rescue Me’ - as one of the most painfully overplayed items on “oldies” radio (ironically, both were Chicago records). This is not to deny the power of ‘It’s In His Kiss’ as a well written/arranged/performed pop song (though the mid-section with the xylophone is fairly painful), but that even the finest wine starts to taste like varnish after the fifth gallon. So, time wore on, and by the mid-80’s I has started to collect soul 45s, and one of the first good ones I found was ‘It’s Getting Mighty Crowded’ by Betty Everett. To be honest, my curiousity was piqued because Costello had performed it (but that wouldn’t be the first time I was led to gold by a trail of gravel), and moreso after seeing Van McCoy’s name listed as the song’s author. As a kid that grew up in the 70’s, Van McCoy meant one thing and one thing only – ‘The Hustle’. It was only years later – starting with this 45 – that I began to get a glimpse of a what a solid and prolific career McCoy had a songwriter in the 60’s. In addition to ‘It’s Getting Mighty Crowded’ he penned ‘I Get the Sweetest Feeling’ for Jackie Wilson (a killer), ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ for Chris Bartley (one of my all-time fave sweet soul sides) and ‘Baby I’m Yours’ for Barbara Lewis. This was a guy that had a head filled with fantastic songs and the good luck to get them recorded by some of the best singers of the era. Everett was born in Mississippi, but moved to Chicago and started recording for the Cobra label in 1957 (Cobra was ostensibly a blues label, but they also released a lot of R&B and rock’n’roll sides as well). She moved to VeeJay in 1963 (after recording sides for CJ and One-Der-Ful) where she recorded the original version of ‘You’re No Good’, later covered by Barbara West, the Swinging Blue Jeans and most successfully by Linda Ronstadt. ‘It’s Getting Mighty Crowded’ didn’t get much chart action here in the States, but became a serious favorite of the Mod crowd in the UK – who along with the Northern Soul folks did more to keep American soul music alive than almost anyone on this side of the pond. Betty’s vocal is strong and the lyrics are amazing, making for one of the best “kiss-off” songs of all time ‘There ain’t room enough for three In dreams that were made for you and me And so you see It’s getting mighty crowded Too crowded for me It’s getting mighty crowded’ The production by Cal Carter and the arranging by I don’t know who, makes for a classic of Chicago soul. The strong 4/4 beat, looming horns and classy strings, working with Everett’s lead and the backing vocals combine to powerful effect. Everett went on to record through the 60’s and 70’s for the ABC, UNI, Fantasy, and UA labels. Sadly, she passed away in 2001.This cut (along with the best of her VeeJay sides) can be found on several reissues.


Blogger guapo said...

I agree with everything you said there, Larry. And "I can`t hear you no more" is a pretty cool Betty Everett single too!

6/29/2005 03:33:00 PM  
Blogger Pogoananda said...

Larry -
I don't know if you hear this everyday, or not often enough - but your site is becoming one of my daily pleasures. something i go looking for every afternoon to see what new treasures you've uncovered. not only that, but i go P2P every track you mention in your write ups. i feel like i'm getting a very pleasurable new education via your crate digging.
much appreciated!

6/29/2005 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

I don't hear that every day, and I really appreciate it. This blog is a labor of love and I'm glad people dig the tracks and the info.

6/30/2005 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Larry try "My Love" by Betty Everett on the Willie Dixson Mr. Dixsons Workshop Album. FUEL 2000. Its pure Betty Everett unfiltered goodness. -Missouri

2/08/2007 05:07:00 PM  

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