The Best of William Bell

by: William Bell

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

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.