Ronnie Bell (New CD Review!)

Daddy B. Nice's #141 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Ronnie Bell (New CD Review!) by Daddy B. Nice
 


"I'll Pay The Shipping Cost"

Ronnie Bell (New CD Review!)

October 1, 2020:

Ronnie Bell: 365 (Reel Entertainment)
Three Stars *** Solid Debut by a new Southern Soul Artist

The title of Ronnie Bell's new, digital-only album, 365, comes from a line in Bell's first southern soul single, "Cotton Candy":

“24/7-365,
Wanna give you all my love until you satisfied.”

I remember the single well although I declined to chart it in Top 10 Singles. The tune had promising qualities: a comfortable-sounding if not overwhelming vocal and a precise instrumental track with interesting motifs. However, the song also had a distinct pop flavor with little to no gospel influences, making it sound a little "thin"--in a word, like cotton-candy. I had Bell pegged as a southern soul singer/songwriter aspirant on the level of Tony Tatum, Leroy Allen or Keith Taylor (P2K DaDiddy): a budding talent with a decidedly easy-going style unlike the church-sourced intensity of most southern soul stars.

But Bell, a resident of the sophisticated and very un-chitlin'-circuit-like city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, a post-grad alumnus of Baton Rouge's Southern University and an already-seasoned, indie R&B artist, persevered. Eventually a club-jock named DJ Willis from Buddy's, a small club in Marrero, Louisiana which did live remotes aired in New Orleans, picked up the song and played it with a vengeance, giving Ronnie his first taste of success in the local southern Louisiana market.

Bell started working on his signature single and masterpiece, "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost," in the aftermath of "Cotton Candy's" new visibility, although he had recorded versions of it as far back as 2014. Bell's producer and southern soul mentor, Kim Frost, cautioned patience and trust, and "Shipping Cost" was recorded in sections, with Bell admittedly in the "dark" at times as to how the finished product would sound. But his faith in Frost was justified. In particular, the introductory and concluding voice-overs "made" the record, with Bell's modest, slightly-nasal asides to the "ladies" giving it a unique and contemporary relevance. The monologues, particularly the long exposition which closes the tune, also reflected back to the splendid instrumental track and understated vocal, giving "Shipping Cost" unusual personality and depth.

"Shipping Cost" charted here in January of 2018 with this capsule review:

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3. "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost"-----Ronnie Bell

New artist Ronnie Bell struck a chord with his women’s-power-enhancing “I’ll Pay The Shipping Cost,” a sensation in the Mobile/Pensacola area, where it's topped radio charts for months. 100K YouTube views and growing.

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" on YouTube.
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100,000 views seemed eye-raising at the time, but since then, as most southern soul fans know, "Shipping Cost" has gone on to surpass many millions of YouTube views. Bell's music has even influenced other artists: for instance, fellow Louisianan J.J. Callier's "Return To Sender"---charting in June 2019---whose undulating groove owes much to the tempo and groove of "Shipping Cost". Which, by the way, is a another unremarked-upon virtue of "Shipping Cost": it's a ballad skipping along like a dance jam.

"I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" brought unexpected respect and accolades to the artist, culminating in Ronnie Bell securing a smattering of gigs (mostly Gulf Coast and Louisiana-based) in the prestigious Blues Is Alright Tour along with the top-producing headliners and revenue-producers in the genre. Covid-19 wiped out those appearances in 2020, and this at a time when Bell had still not published an album of southern soul material. To add to the adversity, Ronnie's producer Kim Frost had died a little over a year before. As Covid-19 persisted, Ronnie debated delaying his album debut, then thought better of it and released 365 in May. We talked shortly after and Bell sent me the album.

My first reaction was disappointment. I was sure I was going to find Bell's next big hit single, but the new songs on the album just didn't seem to be up to the quality of "Cotton Candy" and "I"ll Pay The Shipping Cost". Did it have to do with his mentor Frost's passing? On the whole, the new tunes were scant and sketchy, more like demos. Some tracks, like "Thinkin' Bout" and "Good Woman," had likable melodies and other good points, but they any lacked southern soul flavor.

Three or four months later, time I've allowed myself to revise my views of 365 (if needed), time to watch how the southern soul community has reacted to it, nothing much has changed. That Bell was strongly affected by Frost's death is evident by his choice for the first single release from the album, "Love Ingredients (Frost Song)," which has drawn mild response. Of the new songs, it's also the track on which Bell lavishes the finest vocal and the most attentive production, including background vocals on the concluding choruses.

And yet, in spite of the care taken in recording "Love Ingredients," Ronnie outfoxes himself: the fan has to work too hard to follow it. There's a "germ" of a good song in the chorus, but there are too many "moving" parts, including a disastrously dissonant bridge, to make it an easy and effortless musical memory.

I believe the song from the album that has the best chance of becoming a hit single is "Go Get A Room". I only wish Ronnie had lavished the care put into "Love Ingredients" upon "Go Get A Room". It could be so much more than it is. Unlike "Shipping Cost," the voice-overs are murky and hard to hear. The vocal is pretty pallid, too, especially in the first half of the song, and especially compared with the energy Ronnie puts into "Love Ingredients".

Bare, under-performed and under-produced, "Go Get A Room" nevertheless still has the potential to become the successor to "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost". And with a remix and video? Whooah! That's why I'm sticking with what I said in June:



My bet is that "Go Get A Room," which combines the same seductive elements as "Shipping Cost," will be the next Ronnie Bell tune to blow up southern soul radio. The story line is captivating, the chorus rocks, and it even has a voice-over (to the guys, not the gals) that mimics the deal-sealing voice-over in "Shipping Cost". The chorus soars with a refrain that goes, "Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn/ Go get you a room/ So you can do it again..." And the later verses channel into a chorus that ends, "Go get a room/ So you can check out at noon."


Meaning that if you shack up at the "house," you might not be alive at noon.

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "Go Get A Room" on YouTube.

---Daddy B. Nice

Buy Ronnie Bell's 365 album at Apple.

Buy Ronnie Bell's 365 album at Amazon.

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May 1, 2020:

NEW ALBUM ALERT!

Buy Ronnie Bell's new 365 album at R.E.E.L. Entertainment.

The RONNIE BELL 365 Track List:

1
Cotton Candy

2
Can I Get Some

3
Go Get A Room

4
Love Ingredients (Frost Song) feat. Teddy P.

5
I'll Pay The Shipping Cost

6
Confessing My Love Pains

7
Love U Better

8
Good Woman

9
Home With Me Tonight

10
Pretty Lady

11
Thinkin' 'Bout

12
Make It Right

13
Boujie Booty

Daddy B. Nice notes:

When Ronnie Bell first charted on SouthernSoulRnB in January 2018, Daddy B. Nice wrote:

New artist Ronnie Bell struck a chord with his women’s-power-enhancing “I’ll Pay The Shipping Cost,” a sensation in the Mobile/Pensacola area, where it's topped radio charts for months. 100K YouTube views and growing.

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" on YouTube.

Two years later, "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" has 15 million YouTube views, and the immensely popular anthem has made Bell a southern soul headliner, touring the chitlin' circuit with the likes of Big Pokey Bear, Tucka and Sir Charles Jones.

Bell's much-anticipated southern soul debut, Ronnie Bell 365, contains "Shipping Cost" and "Cotton Candy," Bell's first southern soul single, plus eleven new songs, only one of which, "Love Ingredients," has received much prior exposure. "Love Ingredients" is subtitled the "Frost Song," and in an interview with DJ Ragman of WMPR Jackson, Misssissippi this past month, Bell confided that he and Kim Frost Hill (hope I have that name right) worked together on "Shipping Cost". "The guy was a genius," Bell said. In the interview Ronnie also said he grew up in Louisiana but currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Ronnie Bell brings a different set of talents to the southern soul scene. You won't hear much gospel in his vocals, and you won't necessarily experience the power of many other blues singers. Bell is grounded in popular music, especially early and classic rock and roll, and he coaxes and caresses his compositions to life with an unassuming and self-effacing set of pipes that has doomed many other excellent songwriters to off-stage production. It was this unexceptional vocal prowess that led your Daddy B Nice to dismiss "Cotton Candy," Bell's debut single. But "Shipping Cost" changed all that; its mixture of gentle (easy-does-it) vocal, voice-over, message and melody brought something novel to southern soul.

My bet is that "Go Get A Room," which combines the same seductive elements as "Shipping Cost," will be the next Ronnie Bell tune to blow up southern soul radio. The story line is captivating, the chorus rocks, and it even has a voice-over (to the guys, not the gals) that mimics the deal-sealing voice-over in "Shipping Cost". The last verse soars with a refrain that goes, "Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn/ Go get you a room/ So you can do it again..." And "Go get a room/ So you can check out at noon."

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "Go Get A Room" on YouTube.

Watch for "Go Get A Room" to chart in a high position on Daddy B Nice's Top 10 "Breaking" Singles for June 2020.

Listen to all the tracks from RONNIE BELL 365 on YouTube.

Buy Ronnie Bell's new 365 album at R.E.E.L. Entertainment.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Originally posted on Daddy B. Nice's Corner:

February 16, 2019:

News & Notes:

..... And I'd like to a give a shout-out to Ronnie Bell and Toia Jones for their resuscitations of the meme "Sleeping With The Enemy". In Toia's song (produced by Bigg Robb), the heroine is talking about her tryst with another man who turned out to be a spy for her spouse. In Ronnie Bell's deceptively modest song, "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost," awarded (Best Chitlin' Circuit/Blues Song of 2018), the "sleeping with the enemy" reference comes at the end of the long voice-over which concludes the record and contributed substantially to the tune's success. Ronnie gives nothing less than a motivational speech empowering women and ending with the admonition, "The bottom line, ladies, is you're sleeping with the enemy."

It just so happens my ties to "sleeping with the enemy" go back to the sixties. I was in college where a teacher named Nancy Price taught English and Humanities. Another teacher named Howard Thompson was in the same department, and they got married. Being a "child prodigy," I naturally hung out with a lot of faculty, and when I became a graduate student the faculty gossip was often centered upon Howard Thompson, who reportedly drank a lot and became a "mean" drunk, taking it out on his wife. I soon left the groves of academe for the greater world, but a few years later a book was published by Nancy Price Thompson, and I was stunned by not only the fact she'd published a book about her experiences but by the head-turning title, "Sleeping With The Enemy". Years passed, and at last a movie was made with Julia Roberts in the title role. "Sleeping With The Enemy" became a huge cinematic hit, especially with women, and decades later, here it is, rearing up once again, in southern soul music. A huge hit with women.

--Daddy B Nice

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

February 1, 2019: Originally posted on Daddy B. Nice's Best Of 2018 page.

Daddy B. Nice Announces THE WINNERS of the 2018 (12th Annual) SOUTHERN SOUL MUSIC AWARDS.

Best Chitlin' Circuit Blues Song

Nominees:

"Still Called The Blues"----Donnie Ray
"Down In The Club"----King Fred
"To All The Good Men"----Katrenia Jefferson
"I'll Do Me A Big Girl"----David Brinston (w/ Lucky Love)
"Alabama Folks"----Rena Ree
"Still Called The Blues"----Donnie Ray
"I Need A Fix It Man"----Pat Cooley
"Wrong Man"----Highway Heavy, Fya Redd
"Sneak, Creep And Freak"----Sebastian Gowdy
"Blues Heaven"----Jaye Hammer
"Parking Lot Love Affair"----O.B. Buchana
"I'll Pay The Shipping Cost"----Ronnie Bell

Best Chitlin' Circuit Blues Song: "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" by Ronnie Bell

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" on YouTube.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

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To automatically link to Ronnie Bell's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "Bell, Ronnie" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
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--Daddy B. Nice


About Ronnie Bell (New CD Review!)

Ronnie Bell Discography:

Ronnie Bell EP 2010
In My Feelings Mixtape 2014
Bad By Myself EP 2016
Ronnie Bell 365 2020

January 12, 2019: Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique

It seems as if I should apologize for finally getting to this new artist. He hasn't even an album to his credit, so apologies would seem unnecessary. However, Ronnie Bell is an exception to the rule, and along the Gulf Coast--and in particular, within the listening range of land radio station WDLT in Mobile, Alabama, which has been playing his single "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" daily for two years running now, and often upon request--the name Ronnie Bell is as familiar as...well, fellow Alabaman Sir Charles Jones.

"I'll Pay The Shipping Cost," with its message to women to leave men who are only burdening them, has become the #MeToo anthem for southern-soul/chitlin' circuit women, and its YouTube postings, along with fellow single "Cotton Candy," are in the millions.

A former hiphopper, Ronnie Bell has been exceedingly careful and methodical in his budding southern soul career, releasing only these two singles in a 2-3-year period. But what an impact. Not only has he gained an extensive following primarily among women. His exposure is such that he landed a coveted spot on two of the Blues Is Alright tour venues coming up this spring of 2019 (see concert calendar).

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "I'll Pay The Shipping Cost" on YouTube.

Listen to Ronnie Bell singing "Cotton Candy" on YouTube.

Browse Ronnie Bell's music in Daddy B. Nice's CD's/MP3's Store.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide


Honorary "B" Side

"Cotton Candy"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I'll Pay The Shipping Cost by Ronnie Bell (New CD Review!)
I'll Pay The Shipping Cost


CD: I'll Pay The Shipping Cost (The Single)
Label: Reel Entertainment Group

Sample or Buy
I'll Pay The Shipping Cost (The Single)


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Cotton Candy by Ronnie Bell (New CD Review!)
Cotton Candy


CD: Cotton Candy (The Single)
Label: Worldbeat Entertainment Group

Sample or Buy
Cotton Candy (The Single)


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