Album Review: This Is Where I Live by William Bell
Excellent, Based on 4 Critics
The Guardian - 80 Based on rating 4/5
This Is Where I Live heralds William Bell’s return to Stax, the label on which he made his name – and the “This” of the title is soul music itself. William Bell, 77, is of impeccable soul vintage: he wrote and recorded a string of classics in the late 60s and early 70s, including Private Number and You Don’t Miss Your Water. Born Under a Bad Sign, originally recorded by Albert King and made famous by Cream, is rerecorded by its co-author here, and Bell’s voice and the warm Stax sound are intact.
Say what you want about the last half century of soul music, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more valuable label to the genre than Stax Records. We all know the timeless hits from Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and a plethora of other iconic figures. And by now, we should understand the impact its roster had as a whole on the trajectory of where this music has traveled through the years.
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.
The Memphis label Stax Records was the home of vintage soul acts such as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. William Bell, a lesser-known but still legendary light, won respect for writing “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” which Redding covered, and co-writing “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which Albert King and Cream recorded; he’s also been sampled by Kanye West and Ludacris. This welcome new album is his first in a decade and his first for Stax in nearly 40 years.