Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013
Bill Withers | The Essential Bill Withers (Legacy)
Disc two of this career compilation shows that around 1975, Bill Withers, one of the most talented voices in ’70s soul, declined. Not that he literally lost his voice—the man could still sing—but the songs he wrote after the mid-’70s were often formulaic. “Quiet storm” ballads alternated with OK funk, an intriguing number was followed by schmaltz. The real deal is on disc one, where his earliest recordings are heard. With “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands,” Withers brought blues into the moment, and on “Use Me,” powered by wickedly insinuating syncopation, he nailed the calculus of desire as well as any songwriter.