Bill Withers – 1972 – Still Bill

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Bill Withers comes across as someone you’d pass everyday without paying much mind – a humble, yet very perceptive gentleman. Originally from a small coal-mining town in West Virginia, he served 9 years in the US Navy before taking his music abilities more seriously.Bill Withers is probably best known for his wonderful hit, ‘Lovely Day’ – somehow capturing the laziness of a hot summer afternoon perfectly.Of equal measure is the exquisite ‘Ain’t no sunshine’, a song that was given ascintillating rendition by a certain 14 year old wannabe (Michael Jackson, RIP).Even after recording ‘Ain’t no sunshine’, Bill refused to give up his job making aeroplane toilet seats, citing the music industry as fickle. Here we have Bill consolidating the success of that song and his debut, ‘Just as I am’, with arguably his finest long-player.

This is a 320@ CD rip (supplied by Trakbuv), including original gatefold covers

Tracks
A1   Lonely Town, Lonely Street (3:44)
A2   Let Me In Your Life (2:39)
A3   Who Is He (What Is He To You) (3:12)
A4  Use Me (3:46)
A5   Lean On Me (4:17)
B1  Kissing My Love (3:49)
B2   I Don’t Know (3:05)
B3   Another Day To Run (4:38)
B4   I Don’t Want You On My Mind (4:35)
B5   Take It All In & Check It All Out (2:40)

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Review by Trakbuv

I’ve read a few comments in light of the passing of Michael Jackson that have questioned his (and others past and present) status as a legend as some sort of open debate.Hero worship is a funny thing – it is a human failing to seek someone as a refuge or guide for our dreams and failings.It can be a good thing, but can also drive man against fellow man.The reality of course is that it is ultimately subjective.Just because someone has had the most number ones ever doesn’t mean you have to personally hail them as a legend, or even like them.Of course, in the case of Michael there is no objective dispute as to this status.But it is the need to compare others, living or dead, as some sort of hierarchy that goes beyond playful fantasy that I find disturbing.It made me wonder at how fame can mould a person’s career and their music, and hence notoriety, in defining an iconic legacy.

What would superstardom have done with Mr Bill Withers, for example ?The title of this album ‘Still Bill’ says it all really.Even having had two huge hits in ‘Grandma’s hands’ and ‘Ain’t no sunshine’ (the latter reaching no.3 on the Billboard Pop Charts and receiving a Grammy Award), and a well-received debut LP, ‘Just As I Am’, it was still just Bill.His whole charisma reeked of this guy sat on his porch banging out melodies from a worldly-wise tongue, surrounded by a glazed audience humming among the fireflies.His songs are uncomplicated, simple themes given a wondrous lease of colour and virtuosity that beguiles the senses.And here on ‘Still Bill’, the master really delivers both as songer and singwriter.

‘Lonely town, lonely street’ – a real corker to kick the dust off, Bill takes no prisoners in his aggressive take on the vacuous trappings of the bright lights – and one of my many all-time Bill favourites.Once you’ve picked yourself up from that physical bashing, he pleads with the softest of strokes on ‘Let me in your life’.One of my favourite Bill slowies, its all-too brief sweetness only serves to accentuate the yearning.Goosebumps.Next up is the classic ‘Who is he’, from which I would sing ‘doggarnit’ to anything I begrudgingly had to do as a kid !Everything that Bill Withers stands for is right here – simple repetitive refrain, a biting chorus that almost makes a verse redundant, and a spitting message that fails to hit no-one.Ditto for the moog-led ‘Use me’, another popular Withers number that has the man in vitriolic mode.Do not mess !

‘Lean on me’.Let’s take some time out for what is probably his most majestic song.The arrangement on this is unbelievable ! We start with what is essentially a hum-with-words – creating an amazing meandering melancholy that is broken so spectacularly with ‘lean on me’ in the most earnest call you could ever wish for.And that unorthodox hand-clap rhythm in the chorus (5/4 time ?) is inspirational.And that echo of ‘call me’ on the fade-out sounding like a phone ringing from the one you love.This is planet Genius with honours deservedly capturing the no.1 spot in the US on July 8th, 1972 – almost exactly 37 years ago !Another BIG fave is ‘Kissing my love’, sounding a little like The Meters, Bill gets down and I tell ya’ll – my sway cannot get away when this booms.The jazzy breeziness of ‘I don’t know’ perfectly paves the joyful skip of the lyrics, oh, I’d forgotten just how good the next track is.At over 4.5 minutes, ‘Another day to run’ is Bill getting into opus territory, and what he manages to sneak into those meagre minutes is a burglar’s dream.Astounding message and delivery.On ‘I don’t want you on my mind’, we gets Bill rockin’ that rockin’ chair with the sun glistening off his half empty bottle of rye.Bill does the blues with utmost respect to the blues.That trademark chug of the guitar is sewn through the fabric of ‘Take it all in’, which although a blatant melodic rip-off of ‘Who is he’, the message still stands loud and proud on its own.

There is something so reliably down-to-earth about Bill’s folk-soul – something reassuring and honest.The rarest of talents with an ear for sweet melodies and incisive lyrics – and an endearing and enduring voice that is instantly recognisable.And I think we should have a ‘Bill Withers’ day where everyone takes out 4 minutes and 17 seconds every year to sing ‘Lean on me’. And if any of this is the stuff of legends, then so be it.

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Conversation for album: Bill Withers – 1972 – Still Bill

36 Comments
  • Marcha
    Posted at 01:25h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    one of the best songwriters of all time and a must have.
    Thanks for this.

  • Valentin
    Posted at 12:31h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    Thank you very much for this, and special thanks to MIck Jagger and Roland Kirk for covering Bill’s songs and letting me know such a talent exists!

  • Chris
    Posted at 16:47h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    Without sounding cliche, this is a GREAT album!!! Seriously. The production, singing, song-writing and the musicianship. Great post. GOD BLESS

  • bowlisha1
    Posted at 18:37h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    What a man, what a man! That’s what all the girls were sayin’ and thinkin’ back when “Still Bill” was using us up with his laid back grooves. Many of us just wanted a chance to get our hands on this fine lookin brother!

    This album is fire. Thank you Trakbuv so much for the great review from start to finish. Thanks also for bringing this gem back to the forefront once again for some others to enjoy who never had the opportunity before now. Super!

    Nikos! Check your email and as always thanks to you for hosting one of the nicest blogs on the net!

  • Gary
    Posted at 19:23h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    He really is a legendary American singer/songwriter. “Lean on Me” is as much of an anthem as “Let It Be.” At least to me it is.

  • back
    Posted at 22:13h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    dope!!! thx bro

  • Justin
    Posted at 21:59h, 11 July 2009 Reply

    So down to Earth & wholesome. No bullshit song-writing. Really nice video. “Lean On Me” could be the very words of another very famous world figure named Jesus. Righteous.

  • Soul is the Music
    Posted at 02:33h, 12 July 2009 Reply

    Bill Withers is outstanding. This is the definition of SOUL. Feel the magic of music. Great work.

  • alexander
    Posted at 12:08h, 12 July 2009 Reply

    One of my favorite songs of all time got me through some tough times god bless bill withers.

  • Ricardo
    Posted at 19:42h, 12 July 2009 Reply

    Such a great singer/songwriter, and his live shows – just wonderful! Just check out his “Live at Carnegie Hall” album. Anybody with Watts 103rd St Rhythm band behind him just gotta be funkeh!

  • Vic
    Posted at 12:55h, 13 July 2009 Reply

    Bill Withers is a class act!He has such an amazing soulful pure voice.

    I love his music : )

  • senor pocopico
    Posted at 15:12h, 13 July 2009 Reply

    J.J. Cale of soul music. Great musician. Nice offer Thank you all!!

  • rich
    Posted at 21:15h, 13 July 2009 Reply

    much thanx trakbuv for this one

  • Manos
    Posted at 00:25h, 14 July 2009 Reply

    Excellent record and write up. Bravo.

  • Mr Sam
    Posted at 00:47h, 14 July 2009 Reply

    This Bill isn’t that still. Thanks for this brillant groovy album.

  • Ronnie
    Posted at 02:08h, 14 July 2009 Reply

    His melodies and musical ideas are way beyond his time. Even for today. A prodigy of composition.

  • Raven
    Posted at 10:37h, 14 July 2009 Reply

    Damn good! What ever happend to music where the singer was passionate about what he sang. Now with all this rap and pop, they all seem to be in it to get rich, not to embrace the musical wonders and dreams like these rare talents.

  • Raphy
    Posted at 02:08h, 15 July 2009 Reply

    The review befitting this giant of the music industry..
    Thanks Trakbuv for pouring your truth unto the Truth…

    Big Up!@!

  • Lafayette
    Posted at 03:09h, 15 July 2009 Reply

    One of my favourite albums…ever! I have two vinyl copies, just to be sure – a spare if the first one wears out! 🙂

    /Lafayette

  • Thomas
    Posted at 09:45h, 15 July 2009 Reply

    Magnificent! Real music!!! simply the best!!!

  • Kostantinos
    Posted at 01:07h, 16 July 2009 Reply

    Bill Withers’ music lives forever unless nowadays music. You can see he sings from his heart.

  • Helen
    Posted at 08:34h, 17 July 2009 Reply

    This is such a classic. Nice to have it in a quality rip. Thank you.

  • cleffdeadly
    Posted at 12:51h, 21 July 2009 Reply

    Quality album! cheers…

  • phatrapper
    Posted at 18:50h, 21 July 2009 Reply

    Thanks for posting, must get more of Mr. Withers!

  • Rob
    Posted at 14:55h, 23 July 2009 Reply

    Fantastic posting! Many thanks for this. Was this officially released on cd? Then I go search for the original.

  • whoknows
    Posted at 03:18h, 25 July 2009 Reply

    thanks for this one! don’t have enough bill!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 05:07h, 25 July 2009 Reply

    This Guys Voice Is Amazing..Music Needs Guys Like This..Honestly Gifted..No Studio Tricks..No Dubs..Ghostwriters ETC…Just Pure Soul

    Charlie..AKA..SOULSURVIVOR

  • mycalmazzoti
    Posted at 02:45h, 28 July 2009 Reply

    Thanks so much for posting this record – a long time fav of mine. It’s a classic and deserves to be better known. His performance in the new film (shot long ago) Soul Power is the best moment in the film. Definitely try and catch it on the big screen. Thanks for all the great music!

    http://www.sonyclassics.com/soulpower/

  • El Slick
    Posted at 17:52h, 11 August 2009 Reply

    There are several hits on this album. However, when you say Bill Withers to me…I say, the much covered “Lean On Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”. These to me are his true flagship songs.
    I remember when this album first came out. It went neck & neck with Glady’s Knight & the Pips “Neither One of Us (Want’s to Be the First to Say Goodbye). I was jealeous of Bill.. LOL. He was married to the prettiest woman on television…Denise Nicholas (ROOM 222/In The Heat Of the Night..and films “Uptown saturday Night/Let’s Do It Again..w/Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier).
    “Who is He…” has been much covered also. In other words Trakbuv…GREAT POST of an ALBUM!
    Thanks.

  • Quixotic
    Posted at 03:23h, 13 October 2009 Reply

    Once again an amazing post, and a great occasion to re-discover one of the most genuine and brilliant artist of that time. Bill Withers, an inspired poet and strong musician.

  • damian
    Posted at 01:39h, 25 November 2009 Reply

    this will brighten up the week. thanks for giving music.

  • moggy
    Posted at 15:52h, 19 March 2010 Reply

    Thanks again. Bill is a artist i know little about….but love what ive heard

  • hamnegger
    Posted at 00:18h, 11 April 2010 Reply

    classic!
    thankyou

  • Hamburg City
    Posted at 10:50h, 14 March 2013 Reply

    I´m lovin this record. Never had the time to record my own on my computer. Thanks for your work!!! Appreciate it!!

  • Jez Collins
    Posted at 15:13h, 27 December 2013 Reply

    Another great album, many many thanks!

  • Eddie
    Posted at 12:39h, 16 March 2014 Reply

    Many thanks for this!!

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