William Bell: A Cultured Soul
26th June 2019
Title: The Soul of a Bell
Label: Speakers Corner
Flip over this new reissues and take a quick look at the 11 tracks listed on the rear and you’ll notice that William Bell was also a songwriter. So, while he covers the Otis Rediing/Jerry Butler song, I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now), Dan Penn/Chips Moman’s Do Right Woman-Do Right Man and Isaac Hayes’ It’s Happening All Over, Bell also adds his own personal flavours that include Everybody Loves a Winner (an eventual Top 20 hit), Any Other Way and the track that is often associated with this LP, the stand-out song, You Don’t Miss Your Water. A soul track with country leanings, it was also one of Stax’s first hit singles.
That track was initially released in 1961 but it was only placed onto an album when this disc hit the streets in 1967 – quite a gap.
Stax was Bell’s workplace for some time. In fact, he joined the label as a songwriter. The fact that Bell had the chops to lay down a soul song was a big plus but did his innate songwriting skills also help in his choice of music for the rest of the album? There’s not a bad ditty here.
Speakers Corner’s master is full of clarity and detail. Levels are confidently set so that you don’t have to go hunting by upping the gain but the overall presentation is balanced and neutral. On You Don’t Miss Your Water (as the song says, you don’t know what you really have until it’s gone) the sense of transparency within the master is plain. The fragile cymbal tapping on the left channel, the confidant and resonant piano of the right. Nothing is left to fall down any sonic plug holes here.
The William Bell voice is just that, as clear as… His delivery is open and clear. He’s not a shouter. Sweat doesn’t fly in all directions. Bell is articulate and detailed. In many ways, this style allows him to deliver emotions fresh from the heart. This chap is confiding to you, ok? He needs a shoulder. So brush off the dandruff, even out the wrinkles on your jacket and lend the guy a piece of real estate. If this soul album doesn’t have your memories flying back to, you know, that time. Well…
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