Classic Soul – William Bell, Live in NYC, New Lease on Life
Album Review: William Bell Live in NYC
Southern Soul is the new forgotten genre of black music. It has been firmly entrenched behind the blues as the black music least considered and most under appreciated. Kids today (especially from up Nawth) have little or no use for it and totally disavow it’s existence as the ‘roots’ music that it really is. Never mind that Anthony Hamilton is probably one of it’s best proponents. If you told them that southern soul was what they were really listening to they might walk out the room.
Nobody wants to hang out with Carl Sims or Tre Williams or Ms.Jody or Mystery Man or Lattimore or Millie Jackson or even Joe Simon. Well that’s a shame because the music created some 40 years ago now by the likes of Booker T Jones, Al Green, Isaac Hayes, Rufus and Carla Thomas and so many more is still alive and well, thank you.
In William Bell we have one of the biggest and best progenitors of this music.He was there in the old Stax/Volt days and his presence today is unique in that many of today’s artists are ‘newer’.This means that while they may have very well been around mining the chitlin circuit for a couple dollas (back in the day) they didn’t have the sort of fame and notoriety that Mr. Bell and his labelmates enjoyed.
At any rate we have a real gem here. A live presentation of Mr. William Bell recorded in New Yok city a couple years ago. It’s a bit short and seemingly part of a set of either a multi-act show or a multi-set night.
This is a KILLER album and my only real complaint is that the sound mix aint the best…but because I’m a little anal and persnickety about such, don’t let that persuade you AGAINST this great recording. The band is the Uptown Horns and Rhythm section. This has nothing to so with Paul Schaeffer and em but ARE NY city based musicians. In other words they were the house band for the night. They did a workmanlike if not admirable job.
The set list:
*Easy Comin Out/Can I Change My Mind (medley)
*Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday
*I Forgot To Be Your Lover/You Send Me (medley)
*(Sitting On The) Dock Of The Bay/ Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa Fa -Sad Song (Medley
*Hard To Handle
*You Don’t Miss Your Water
Every tune has an arrangement and a ‘bring-it-down’ portion where Mr. Bell interacts with the audience for either audience participation or to expound on some lyric or vibe of the song.
Notice that there are several covers here? Notice that the best artists all do covers somewhere in their act? Notice the ones that don’t quickly fade out of your consciousness? William Bell is one of the Masters and yet he spares nothing in
genuflecting to the patron saints (of which he will certainly be someday) of soul music.
William Bell sounds a little like a mix of Sam Cooke, Johnny Taylor and Arthur Conley but his own voice is sweet, mellow, articulate and clean. It’s one thing to listen to this music on your own but I had the distinct pleasure of listening to it with someone from North Carolina where ALL of this music is a big deal. To see the reaction and immediate recognition of tunes that we all should know about but have so easily forgotten is heartwarming.
Thank God somebody cares enough to support these artists and not only get into but enjoy this music. The tunes that stood out for me where Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday and I Forgot To Be Your Lover. The band literally tears into these mid-tempo ballads with enthusiasm, practicing dynamics and musicality with ease. The arrangements are hook-laden and killer. In fact it’s the same on all of the up-tempo numbers as well. Hard To Handle also serves as the vehicle to introduce the Easy Comin Out is the opener. Both kick mighty, mighty ass! Horns are all over the place with strength and power. The only cats that either play this music or play it this way would be the Tower Of Power because if nothing else they owe much of their musical influence to soul music…not funk but soul and r&b. I Forgot To Be Your Lover was a big hit for Mr. Bell and judging by the roar of the crowd everyone seems to know and love it.
It is a monster on here and Mr. Bell easily and gracefully segues into Sam Cooke-mode for You Send Me. I swear it fits perfectly with all of the la-di-dee-la-di-daa type ad-libs. Stop, shop and cop. This is good eatin!
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Album Review: William Bell – "New Lease on Life "
(Soul/R&B/Southern Soul/Slow Jams/Southern Fried Erotica)
I get a lot of email asking the question "Whatever Happened to the former STAX artists"? Well this album is the answer to at least part of that question. The term "music for grown folks" is one of the most over used cliché’s in Black music today. In fact it’s been over used so much that I have personally come to despise it. This album is all about real life situations that all of us who are over the age of 30 can easily relate to. My favorite cut on the album is "My Body Don’t Know" as song with the familiar theme of "betrayal", however it is the "Ernie Isleyesque Supa Stoopid" guitar solo that makes this song one of the years best. Another song, "Treat Her Right (Like a Lady)" uses…the intro to the Winston’s "Color Him Father" to great effect. "Up Close and Personal" is a grat "begging song" in the STAX tradition. Other topics explored in theis album are: "Adult Love/Friendship", Being a Soldier in Iraq", "Escaping to the Caribbean", "Being Played", "Wrath of a Woman Scorned", "World Hunger", "Family Values", etc. So if you are the type of music fan who sits around wondering what the STAX record label might sound like in 2006 if it could have survived, this album is for you. And if you are the type of music fan who has never heard of the STAX record label and couldd care less about it’s legacy, then you need this album, in order to discover what good/solid soul music truly sounds like!
1. New Lease on Life
2. Playaz Only Love You (When They’re Playing)
3. Part Time Lover (Full Time Friend)
4. My Body Don’t Know
5. Honey from the Bee
6. You Got a Hold on Me
7. Keep a Light in the Window
8. Got an Island Feelin’
9. Treat Her Right (Like a Lady)
10. Up Close and Personal
11. Save Us
12. Every Sunday Morning