Vicki Lawrence first became famous as a bubbly comedian who was part of the cast on The Carol Burnett Show, but in 1973, she showed off a different side of her talents when she scored a Number One hit single with "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," a moody story song about a murder in a small southern town. It was an auspicious beginning for her singing career, and Lawrence might have enjoyed greater success as a vocalist if Bell Records, the label she had signed with, hadn't been going through financial troubles that caused the company to go under in late 1974, leaving her second album released only in Australia. (It also didn't help that Bobby Russell, who wrote Lawrence's big hit, was her husband, but they divorced around the same time Bell went out of business.) The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia: The Complete Bell Recordings is an anthology that collects Lawrence's debut album, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia; her second album, Ships in the Night, which sees its first release outside Australia on this collection, and a non-LP single as well as one unreleased bonus track.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming