Iconic veteran Southern soul man William Bell has been in the business of making records for 66 years, and was with Memphis’ fabled Stax label for virtually its entire 15-year existence (1960-1975). In that time, he composed and recorded many songs that are rightly regarded as classics, from his Stax debut ‘You Don’t Miss Your Water’ to the classic blues song ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ to his hit duet with Judy Clay, ‘Private Number’.
Ace Records has represented William’s Stax catalogue in the UK for longer than the label originally existed, and we have issued a number of CDs over the years, including original albums and “Best Of” packages, but this month sees the release of the first of two CD sets that will, between them, anthologise the A and B-sides all of William’s solo singles for Stax.
“Never Like This Before” covers the first seven years of William’s Stax catalogue, and rounds up all 14 of the singles that came out on Stax’s original blue label design with the ‘Stack Of Records’ logo. Among the classics featured are the aforementioned ‘You Don’t Miss Your Water’, William’s holiday perennial ‘Every Day Will Be Like A Holiday’ and his heartfelt salute to his recently-deceased Stax labelmate Otis Redding, ‘A Tribute To A King’ – to name but a few.
William is, of course, backed on all tracks by members of the legendary Stax ‘house band’ Booker T & the MGs and the Memphis Horns.
Arranged in sequence of release and with a booklet featuring extensive annotation and illustration, “Never Like This Before” lives up to its title and offers premium quality Southern soul in a package worthy of the man who, at the age of 82, is still singing many of these songs in live shows, and singing them as well as he ever did!
The second of our two packages, covering the ‘Yellow’ Stax years of 1968 to 1974, will follow later in 2022.