Just where do you start with a 'Best Of' Maggie Bell collection? Maggie’s remarkable career stretches back an incredible forty plus years and includes some of the greatest female blues vocals ever recorded on the UK side of the Atlantic. To attempt to narrow that down is a headache of huge proportions.
Angel Air has somehow succeeded in doing just that. Their double disc Best Of Maggie Bell Sound And Vision includes twelve tracks largely drawn from Maggie’s solo career and a full length DVD of her live concert with Midnight Flyer recorded in July 1981 at the world renowned Montreux Festival.
The informative album notes tell of Maggie’s rise to fame after getting up on stage with the legendary Alex Harvey in their native Glasgow, being introduced to Alex’s younger brother guitarist Les, and of being spotted by none other than Peter Grant.
At the time the larger than life Grant was managing the Yardbirds and would of course go on to secure his place in the hierarchy of rock history with Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, and of course Maggie Bell.
Legend has it that when he first heard Maggie singing with the band Power all he could say was 'stone the crows’. Adopting that name Maggie and Les Harvey were joined by drummer Colin Allen, bass player James Dewar (later the voice of the Robin Trower Band), and keyboard player John McGinnis.
Stone The Crows’ first two albums, Stone The Crows (1969) and Ode To John Law the following year immediately attracted attention and resulted in Maggie regularly being compared to Janis Joplin. The band's hard work was really beginning to pay off and despite losing McGinnis and Dewar in 1971, to be replaced by Ronnie Leahy and Steve Thompson, their reputation continued to grow.
After a third, and highly successful album, Teenage Licks, tragedy struck and Les suffered a fatal electric shock during a sound check in Swansea. The band carried on, releasing Ontinuous Performance, but in truth they never recovered from Les’s death. When the band called it a day, Maggie set out on a solo career.