William Bell and Mavis Staples: I Thank You
From Stax Classic Soul Duets: Boy Meets Girl (Stax, 2009)
OW has covered this release previously, but recently it has been (sort of) reissued on CD. Indeed, Boy Meets Girl was not a compilation but a concept album to join forces of some of the male and female artists on the label.
One of the highlights is the cover of Sam and Dave’s “I Thank You.” Sam Moore’s intro lines (you may have heard them in the ’90s at the beginning of Naughty By Nature’s “Clap Yo Hands”) were clipped in the remake, and the song starts off with William Bell and the heavily underrated Mavis Staples soulshouting over conga and tambourine and a few horn stabs for nearly a minute before the groove really kicks in. Midway through, it kicks back to this acoustic breakdown. This seesawing effect with the fuller accompaniment adds a churchy element to the already gospel influenced lyrics.
Also featured is a beautiful remake of the Everly Brothers “All I Have To Do Is Dream.” Considering Carla Thomas had her own hit with “Gee Whiz,” perhaps it was on purpose that she’s half the duet, with William Bell being the other half, in a song that features that same phrase a couple times. It’s sung with such yearning, which is appropriate given the song is about a lover daydreaming of his yet-to-be attained mate. This take on “Dream” would be much better if it was pared down to a three minute edit without the majestic buildup at the end, which diminishes its melancholy tone.
It’s not all a William Bell affair. Former Soul Stirrers leadman Johnnie Taylor chips in with Carla Thomas for duets of “Just Keep On Loving Me” and “My Life” and Eddie Floyd chimes in as well on the uplifting “Never Let You Go” and more.
Additionally, the reissue isn’t a full-on replication of the original release. Missing are songs such as “Love’s Sweet Sensation,” “I Need You Woman,” and “That’s The Way Love Is” (and more). In replacement, you get two Delaney and Bonnie songs as well as two versions of “Private Number.” The 1980’s Dusty Springfield version of “Private Number” sounds dated (and not in a good way) and is far out of place on an album featuring mostly late ’60s production. Fortunately, it doesn’t sink the ship. The rest of the material is quite capable of keeping the album afloat.