Madeline Bell

Doin' Things

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Madeline Bell's final '60s album was, like her first (1967's Bell's a Poppin'), made in Britain under the production supervision of John Franz. And, like its predecessor, it unsurprisingly bore some resemblance to Dusty Springfield's late-'60s work, both because Franz also worked with Springfield, and because Bell sang backup vocals on Springfield records. To stretch the comparison even further, Bell had a style similar to Springfield's (especially in her slight vibratos at the end of phrases), as well as a similar bent for varied soul-pop material. The overall impression was something of a Springfield with a closer connection to genuine black American soul -- a connection that was honest enough, given that Bell was an African-American singer. The songs on Doin' Things, however, weren't as strong as the better material that Springfield interpreted. Still, it's a solid enough record, whether you're coming at it from a sub-Springfield angle or not, and it did contain some obscure compositions by Van McCoy, Billy Vera, Georgie Fame ("For Your Pleasure"), and John Lennon and Paul McCartney ("Step Inside Love," which the Beatles never recorded, but which Cilla Black had previously done for a British hit single). Interestingly, John Paul Jones -- who would join Led Zeppelin shortly afterward, and plays bass as a session musician on the album -- wrote one of the songs, "Hold It," as well as co-writing two others with Bell. [The 2004 CD reissue on RPM, in addition to including thorough historical liner notes, also adds six bonus tracks from 1968-1969 singles, among them the Bell-Springfield composition "Go Ahead On."]

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