BELL RINGIN’

Reuben Bell & the Casanovas: It’s Not That Easy
From 7″ (Murco, 1967). Also on Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Vol. 1

Reuben Bell: Superjock
From 7″ (Alarm, 1975). Also on New Orleans Funkiest Delicacies

I had never heard of Reuben Bell until ten years ago, when DJs Shadow and Cut Chemist made “Superjock” one of the more memorable tunes off their Brainfreeze mix as a song about, well, DJing. Which disc jockey doesn’t aspire to be describe as such: “he’s number one/he’s the turntable king/he’s number one/when he’s doing his thing/he really gets down with it”?

By the time “Superjock” had come out though, Bell was already in mid-career, having kicked things off as more of a deep soul crooner beginning in the mid/late 1960s. I only recently got a copy of his very first single, “It’s Not That Easy” feat. Bell and the Casanovas (thanks Mao!) and this is so quintessentially “deep soul” (emphasis on “deep”).

This is like heartbreak distilled into a record and what’s especially powerful is how Bell was barely into his 20s when he recorded this; you can hear the youthfulness of his woes here…it’s not a older man’s more seasoned pain but carries a young man’s earnestness – all the more devastating. Props to the Casanovas here – they do a phenomenal job of setting the tone with those bottomless basslines and the haunting, unsettling guitar.

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