William Bell - The Soul Of A Bell
William Bell (voc); Joe Arnold (as); Andrew Love (ts); Wayne Jackson (tp); Booker T. Jones, Isaac Hayes (keyb); Steve Cropper (g); Donald 'Duck' Dunn (b); Al Jackson Jr. (dr)
Written by Booker T. Jones (A1, B5), William Bell (A2, B1, B2, B5), Chips Moman (A3), Dan Penn (A3), Jerry Butler (A4), Otis Redding (A4), Toussaint McCall (A5), John D. Loudermilk (A6), Booker T. Jones (B1), Isaac Hayes (B3), Joe Shamwell (B3, B5), Booker T. Jones (B4), David Porter (B4), Isaac Hayes (B4)
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Stax
Recording: January and May 1967 at Stax Studios, Memphis (TN)
Production: Jim Stewart
Originally released in 1967
Reissued in 2019
Side A :
- Everybody Loves A Winner
- You Don't Miss Your Water
- Do Right Woman--Do Right Man
- I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
- Nothing Takes The Place Of You
- Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye
Side B :
- Eloise (Hang On In There)
- Any Other Way
- It's Happening All Over
- Never Like This Before
- You're Such A Sweet Thang
« William Bell's history illustrates just how singles-oriented soul was in the 1960s. Though he'd enjoyed a hit in 1961 with "You Don't Miss Your Water," it wasn't until 1967 that Stax finally released his first album, the magnificent The Soul of a Bell. From that classic and Bell's moderate hits "Never Like This Before" and "Everybody Loves A Winner" to heartfelt versions of "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long," everything on this album (reissued on CD in 1991) illustrates the gospel-drenched richness of Southern soul. Meanwhile, the influence of Motown and the Four Tops is hard to miss on the riveting single "Eloise (Hang On In There)," which should have been a major hit, but surprisingly, never even charted. The 2002 CD reissue adds alternate versions of "You Don't Miss Your Water" and "Any Other Way". » AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
« The History of American soul music is deeply rooted in blues. Labels like Chess and Atlantic were the leading producers of this rapidly evolving musical style. In the 1960’s, the primary soul labels were Motown and Stax. Based in Memphis, Stax had built a reputation as an influential blues outfit, that catered to Southern-influenced music. Their famous studio on McLemore Avenue had a unique raw sound that was represented in the recordings. This set them apart from their competitors at Motown. Their distribution agreement with Atlantic (ATCO) contributed to the early commercial success. What put Stax on the map was Otis Redding. His intense vocals and the muscular arrangements made him a burgeoning superstar. Redding’s untimely death in 1967, dealt a blow to the label. That year other vocal stars began to emerge. One of them was Memphis native William Bell. His debut, The Soul Of A Bell showcased Bell’s singing and songwriting skills.
Speakers Corner Records has released a 180-gram re-mastered vinyl of The Soul Of A Bell. Backed by Booker T. & The M.G.’s, eleven soulful tunes (some written by Bell) come to life. Side 1 opens with a Bell/Booker T. original “Everyone Loves A Winner”. In what is a scaled back arrangement, a gentle, soulful ambiance envelops the song. The time-tested narrative of loss is set against relaxed grooves. Bell captures the melancholy as he croons…”when you lose, you lose alone”. “You Don’t Miss Your Water” is trademark Stax with a gospel undercurrent provided by Booker T. Jones on piano and organ. Bell’s a gifted lyricist and it shows here. Everyone is familiar with “Do Right Woman-Do Right Man”. The song helped to launch the career of Aretha Franklin. Many others have covered this tune in the hopes of matching “The Queen Of Soul”. William Bell dials it back to reflect his mellow tone and restrained delivery. There are touches like jazzy horn/sax and 2nd chorus backup vocals that add some texture. Bell can turn up the intensity, but always with understatement. This low-key soulful testimony is present on Otis Redding’s powerhouse, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)”. Bell essentially injects mellowness in place of growling ferocity. There has always been a connection between country music and r & B. Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes The Place Of You” managed to bridge these genres. Bell exudes the bluesy agony with heartfelt earnest. The category-defying continues on “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”. Recorded as a country and doo-wop hit, Bell distills the plaintive resignation with his dulcet vocal rumination.
Side 2 considerably shifts gears to up tempo jams. “Eloise (Hang In There)” infuses 1960’s ebullience in quintessential Memphis aesthetics. Steve Cropper’s guitar licks permeate the funky, rhythmic sway of “Any Other Way”. Any laid-back tendencies are no longer part of the session. The vaunted Stax house band percolates on the Isaac Hayes’ joyful romp, “It’s Happening All Over”. The presence of Wayne Jackson (trumpet) and Andrew Love” is more prominent in the arrangement. The momentum keeps escalating on the accessible and hip-shaking “Never Like This Before”. Bell simply cuts loose here, He channels the presence of Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett with his own vocal prowess. “You’re Such A Sweet Thing” is a rollicking finale to this highlight-filled thirty-two minute album.
Speakers Corner Records has done a stellar job in re-mastering The Soul Of A Bell to 180-gram vinyl. The unfiltered essence of Stax is present and the mix is balanced. This pressing is meticulous with little surface noise. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, May 5, 2021
It was as though William Bell had been born specially to impress us with the musical style that prevailed in his birthplace, Memphis. The story of his life certainly makes one sit up and take notice. Many years before his debut album was released on the now-legendary Stax label, Bell wrote songs for the independent label and contributed to the original sound of the South. His simply constructed (in the very best sense) music with its emphasis on demanding lyrics, such as the hit "Everybody Loves A Winner", is highly appealing to sensitive souls. And it gets even better.
With "You Don’t Miss Your Water" Bell wrote a classic example of a down-to-earth country-soul number with a whistling organ and broad waves of sound on the winds. Unlike the emotional Wilson Pickett, for example, Bell cultivated a more moderate form of expression. Instead of breathless staccato, his music flows along at a more even pace that does not shy away from grave and ponderous retrospection ("I’ve Been Loving You Too Long"). Sensitive words follow to the strains of a seething organ ("Nothing Takes The Place Of You") and in a sluggish yet clearly articulated statement ("Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"). As a contrast, there are also powerful, and rocking catchy numbers such as "Eloise", while the pulsating rhythm and colourful background singing in "Never Like This Before" explores new territory. But as it should be, every single number has its own story to tell.
Allmusic : 5 / 5 ; Discogs : Audiophile Audition : 4.5 / 5