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Suicide Sal

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Album Review

The success of Angel Air's series of Maggie Bell reissues can be easily judged by the Scottish singer's return to the U.K. after residing for years abroad, a planned autobiography, and her intention of touring. Although critically feted in the U.K., Bell, both solo and with her former band Stone the Crows, never quite achieved the commercial breakthrough everyone had so expected. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, Bell's recording career was punctuated by a sole Stone the Crows charting album. With that band's demise in 1973, the soul singer went solo, releasing the (again) critically acclaimed Queen of the Night album, with 1975's Suicide Sal following. A tougher, more energized set than its predecessor, Sal's electrifying live feel reflects the incendiary stage shows Bell and her new backing band had been playing in the intervening time between recordings. The two bonus tracks, recorded at a gig later that year, capture their live ferocity. Intriguingly, the funky, fiery title track, an homage to Bell's Aunt, a music hall star, is one of only two originals on this set. The second, the lavishly bluesy "If You Don't Know" was penned by band keyboardist Pete Wingfield, and boasts a guesting Jimmy Page on guitar. The storming "Coming on Strong" also has a Bell connection, being co-penned by ex-Crow Colin Allen and Zoot Money. The rest of the album comprises astutely chosen covers drawn from an eclectic selection of artists. One of the standouts is "It's Been So Long," a powerful gospel number written by the Pretty Things' Phil May, who not only rewrote some of the lyrics for Bell, but added his backing vocals to the song. Free's classic "Wishing Well" gets a sensational workout, while that band's offshoot Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit's "Hold On" is taken to new emotive heights. From barrelling Beatles pop to the Sutherland Brothers poignant Gaelic ode, from ballads to hefty rock & roll, Bell struts across this set with style and such assurance, that even Aunt Sal must have been impressed. One of Britain's greatest soul singers, showcased at her best, this magnificent album also includes an excellent, expansive biography of this crucial artist.

Customer Reviews

A Treasure from the Past

I have been wanting to find this for ages. I thought of looking her up here, and I can't believe it's here. I had this album in the "70's and I wore it out. I think was her best. I'm fairly stingy with my stars, but this one I gave 5. "Suicide Sal" has haunted my memory for years. I just downloaded it, along as several more. It will quickly become one of the most played. She did the best version of "Wishing Well" I ever heard. If your a fan of Joplin, Maybe Chi Coltrane, give her a listen. You might find Suicide Sal haunting your memory too.

soulful mid-70's boogie

Maggie Bell sings like a house on fire. I will NOT use the standard comparison, but I will say that there are few singers in the world who can match her whiskey-voiced power or her searing soulfulness. My minor quibble is that over the course of a full album, things do get to sound a bit strident, but in smaller doses, she will bowl you over. I highly recommend Wishing Well.

A Jewel

A lost jewel of yesteryear. Maggie Bell was a great vocalist of her time.
Right up there with Carol King, Janis Joplin & Tina Turner.
She just never received the same exposure as the others did.
She sang from the heart and that is the best way.. sing with soul.


Born: January 12, 1945 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Scottish soul-rock singer Maggie Bell first gained prominence singing with Stone the Crows, which released its first album in 1970 and broke up in June 1973. Bell went solo with Queen of the Night (featuring the U.S. number 97 "After Midnight") in 1974, followed by Suicide Sal, both of which charted in the U.S. Her only U.K. chart singles came with...
Full Bio

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Suicide Sal, Maggie Bell
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