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Pop - Released May 7, 2013 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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R&B - Released June 3, 2016 | Stax

Hi-Res Booklet
William Bell wrote "Born Under a Bad Sign," "You Don't Miss Your Water," and "I Forgot to Be Your Lover," among many other R&B classics, and anyone with those tunes on their résumé has nothing to prove to anyone. But no artist wants to be regarded as a spent force, no matter how impressive their past body of work may be. While Bell has stayed in the game since his glory days in the '60s and '70s, like many giants of the soul era, his recordings of the '90s and onward often suffered from poor production and a lack of sympathetic, worthwhile collaborators. But unlike many of his peers, Bell has been lucky enough to get a second chance at making a great record, and the revived Stax label teamed Bell with songwriter and producer John Leventhal. Working with Leventhal has brought out the best in Bell, and 2016's This Is Where I Live is his strongest and most powerful work since the late '70s. Bell's voice is in marvelous condition here, with the faint signs of age only adding to the subtle authority of his delivery. And in Leventhal, Bell has found a writing partner who has coaxed some excellent songs from him. The new songs on This Is Where I Live deal with the home truths of life and love that are the bedrock of Southern Soul. "The Three of Me," "The House Always Wins," and the title song are thoughtful and literate while also sounding warm and down to earth, and the maturity of Bell's outlook speaks of wisdom rather than wear. Bell also finds a few new wrinkles in his re-recording of "Born Under a Bad Sign," and his interpretation of Jesse Winchester's "All Your Stories" is splendid and knowing. The studio musicians have given these songs backdrops that evoke the mood of vintage soul without stumbling into cliches, and practically every aspect of this album flatters Bell and his talents. It's tempting to call This Is Where I Live a comeback, but the truth is Bell never went away. What the album does prove is that Bell's talent is as strong as ever, and that he's been given a chance to let it shine. Give a carpenter a small amount of marginal materials and he'll build a shed. Give that builder the proper supplies and he can construct a house. Give William Bell what he needs and he'll give you a mansion, and that's just what he's delivered with This Is Where I Live. © Mark Deming /TiVo
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R&B - Released April 29, 2016 | Stax

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R&B - Released January 1, 2007 | Stax

William Bell is probably the most woefully underappreciated artist in the Stax Records stable. Primarily a ballad singer, Bell avoided the charismatic stage histrionics of singers like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett in favor of a more subtle and melodic approach. He was also a gifted songwriter, penning in conjunction with his writing partner Booker T. Jones (of MGs fame) a handful of country-soul classics, including "You Don't Miss Your Water," a hit for Bell in 1961, and "Born Under a Bad Sign," which became the theme song for blues giant Albert King after his version was released in 1967. Bell wasn't afraid to mix pure country elements into the deep soul stew, as "You Don't Miss Your Water" shows, and his 1967 hit "Everybody Loves a Winner" is as much Merle Haggard as it is Otis Redding. "Eloise (Hang on in There)," another Bell/Jones collaboration, sounds like a great, lost Four Tops song, and is one of the many highlights on this revealing anthology, which works not only as an introduction to this underrated artist, but also as a solid survey of his top moments. © Steve Leggett /TiVo
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R&B - Released May 19, 2017 | Stax

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Soul - Released January 1, 1997 | Stax

In 1997, Fantasy combined two of William Bell's classic Stax albums, Wow... and Bound to Happen, on a single CD. The albums found the soul man in two notably different settings. The last Bell album that was produced by organist Booker T. Jones, Bound to Happen is a Memphis-oriented treasure boasting a number of songs that should have been major hits but weren't, including the sweaty "All God's Children Got Soul" and a magnificent remake of Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign." And under Jones, Bell shows us how well Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People" works in a Memphis soul setting. Wow..., meanwhile, marked the first time Bell didn't record in Memphis. Instead, he recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL under Stax's Al Bell and went for a consistently sleeker sound and more of a Northern soul orientation. Wow... isn't quite as strong as Bound to Happen, but it does have its share of impressive material, including "Penny for Your Thoughts" and the hit "I Forgot to Be Your Lover." As it turned out, that sleeker approach would be a primary direction for Bell in the '70s. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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R&B - Released March 25, 2016 | Stax

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Soul - Released January 1, 1972 | Stax

Many Stax releases in the label's final years were dull soul. But by the standards of the era, Phases of Reality was an above-average affair that was more diverse than many such efforts of the time. The three songs Bell co-wrote with guitarist Horace Shipp Jr. were socially conscious tunes in a different bag than the straightforward, romantic odes Bell usually purveyed. "Save Us" is indebted to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On era, with a Philly-influenced funk-soul groove, and "Fifty Dollar Habit" is, of course, about drug use. Elsewhere Bell sticks mostly to love songs, self-penned and otherwise, getting into a pre-disco lope on the title track, a style of sweet soul balladry on "What I Don't Know Won't Hurt Me" and "If You Really Love Him," and some light reggae-influenced rhythms on "Lonely for Your Love." [This CD reissue combines Bell's final two Stax albums, 1973's Phases of Reality and Relating, in one disc.] © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1990 | Fantasy Records

The Best of William Bell focuses on the singer's output from 1968-1974, covering the albums Duets, Bound to Happen, Wow..., Phases of Reality, and Relating. While his 1967 debut, The Soul of a Bell, may be his finest album, this collection compiles many of the highlights that followed, including his exquisite 1968 single "I Forgot to Be Your Lover." That same year, Bell cut a satisfactory set of Duets (1968) with Judy Clay, Carla Thomas, and Mavis Staples, three of which are featured here. By 1969, however, Bell was singing with increased confidence and, while the arrangements retained all the grand gestures of old, they seemed tougher somehow. That year, Bell released Bound to Happen (1969), displaying a harder edge on the funky "Born Under a Bad Sign." The material on Wow... (1971) benefited as well with female backing singers, solid drumming, and a host of strings framing fine vocal performances on "All for the Love of a Woman" and "Till My Back Ain't Got No Bone." Add the hit "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" and you have one of Bell's finest album sets. Further changes surfaced in 1973, with Bell adopting the cinematic funk stylings of Curtis Mayfield's Superfly on the pleading "Save Us." All of the material mentioned above is included on this Stax set. Still, no Bell best-of can be complete without his reading of the Otis Redding classic "I've Been Loving You Too Long" or Moman & Penn's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man," let alone the singer's best-loved number: his very own "You Don't Miss Your Water." In lieu of the perfect William Bell package, however, this disc serves him well, demonstrating both the breadth of his vocal powers and his stylistic range. © Nathan Bush /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 2002 | Stax

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". © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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R&B - Released January 1, 1973 | Craft Recordings

Bell's final Stax LP was, other than a couple of bright spots, blandly sentimental mid-'70s sweet soul. It had more of an Al Green-Hi Records influence than other Bell Stax releases, due in all probability to the contribution of horn arrangements and backup vocals by musicians who were also involved in Hi sessions. There was also co-production by Booker T. & the MG's drummer Al Jackson Jr., who was doing a lot of work for Hi at the time; Jackson and MG's bassist Duck Dunn also play on the record. There were a few low-charting R&B singles on the disc -- "I've Got to Go on Without You," "Lovin' on Borrowed Time," and "Gettin' What You Want (Losin' What You Got)." None particularly deserved to do better, though "Gettin' What You Want" is a decent midtempo ballad. Actually, the star cut is "Nobody Walks Away from Love Unhurt," with its pin-prick, bluesy guitar licks. The album is now available as part of a reissue that combines Relating and Bell's previous Stax LP, 1973's Phases of Reality, onto a single CD. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Soul - Released March 3, 1992 | Stax

A fine collection of Stax outtakes from the 1960s, A Little Something Extra features several tracks, including his smoldering version of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?," that rival his original singles. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Miscellaneous - Released June 15, 2011 | Xtension

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R&B - Released May 27, 2016 | Stax

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R&B - Released June 3, 2016 | Stax

William Bell wrote "Born Under a Bad Sign," "You Don't Miss Your Water," and "I Forgot to Be Your Lover," among many other R&B classics, and anyone with those tunes on their résumé has nothing to prove to anyone. But no artist wants to be regarded as a spent force, no matter how impressive their past body of work may be. While Bell has stayed in the game since his glory days in the '60s and '70s, like many giants of the soul era, his recordings of the '90s and onward often suffered from poor production and a lack of sympathetic, worthwhile collaborators. But unlike many of his peers, Bell has been lucky enough to get a second chance at making a great record, and the revived Stax label teamed Bell with songwriter and producer John Leventhal. Working with Leventhal has brought out the best in Bell, and 2016's This Is Where I Live is his strongest and most powerful work since the late '70s. Bell's voice is in marvelous condition here, with the faint signs of age only adding to the subtle authority of his delivery. And in Leventhal, Bell has found a writing partner who has coaxed some excellent songs from him. The new songs on This Is Where I Live deal with the home truths of life and love that are the bedrock of Southern Soul. "The Three of Me," "The House Always Wins," and the title song are thoughtful and literate while also sounding warm and down to earth, and the maturity of Bell's outlook speaks of wisdom rather than wear. Bell also finds a few new wrinkles in his re-recording of "Born Under a Bad Sign," and his interpretation of Jesse Winchester's "All Your Stories" is splendid and knowing. The studio musicians have given these songs backdrops that evoke the mood of vintage soul without stumbling into cliches, and practically every aspect of this album flatters Bell and his talents. It's tempting to call This Is Where I Live a comeback, but the truth is Bell never went away. What the album does prove is that Bell's talent is as strong as ever, and that he's been given a chance to let it shine. Give a carpenter a small amount of marginal materials and he'll build a shed. Give that builder the proper supplies and he can construct a house. Give William Bell what he needs and he'll give you a mansion, and that's just what he's delivered with This Is Where I Live. © Mark Deming /TiVo

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William Bell in the magazine