The Very Best of William Bell

by: William Bell

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

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