You're bound to know most of this compilation - "Just The Two Of Us" and "Grandma's Hands" you'll undoubtedly know from their sampling on major 90s hip-hop hits, and "Ain't No Sunshine", "Lean On Me", and "Lovely Day" you'll be familiar with if you've ever listened to an oldies radio station (and probably even if you haven't). What's remarkable is that this material - most of which sold by the bucketload, three songs even managing over 1,000,000 sales - isn't blunted by familiarity. The music of Bill Withers still occupies a place slightly distinct from any of his contemporaries; its lexicon is drawn from folk, funk, soul, and radio-friendly acoustic rock, without really belonging to any of those genres. He's a less sexed-up Prince, or a just-plain-better Luther Vandross, if you want comparisons. Straight soul ballads like "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean On Me" sit happily with the slightly darker, more driven likes of "Use Me" and "Who is He, What Is He To You?", and the upbeat, melodic bliss of the Stevie Wonder-esque "Lovely Day" and "Just The Two Of Us", not to mention the jazzy "I Want To Spend The Night". A perfect introduction to this oddly under-rated artist.
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