What does it sound like?:
Bill Withers last released a studio album in 1985, and even that came after a seven year hiatus from his most prolific period covering the years 1971-78, during which he made seven albums. He’s one of those rare artists whose ‘best ofs’ outnumber his original albums – I make it that this, astonishingly, is the eleventh collection issued since 1975 when he was at the very height of his popularity. Looking at the track listings, these all contain pretty much the same songs, centred around his big, classic, hits, Just The Two Of Us, Lean On Me, Ain’t No Sunshine and Lovely Day. There’s no arguing with the quality of these songs, but perhaps understandably they rather overshadowed the rest of his material. That’s a real shame as it led to some fine songs being overlooked. Use Me, Grandma’s Hands and Watching You Watching Me, to name just three, all deserved far more attention, and really in the nineteen tracks here there’s not really anything that lets the side down. Pushing eighty years old now, this is presumably all the Bill there’s ever going to be unless there’s a hidden hoard of unissued material in a studio vault somewhere, but if this is his legacy then all in all it’s a pretty good one.
In a similar vein comes The Ultimate Collection by the late John Denver. Before you immediately stop reading, let me say that in his early years he produced more than a few great tunes – what’s wrong with Leaving On A Jet Plane, Take Me Home Country Roads and Rocky Mountain High. It’s unfortunate he became almost solely associated with the ubiquitous sugar coated Annie’s Song (or the Greasy Chip Butty Song as it’s known to we Blades fans), as there was a lot more to him than that. Listening to Calypso, I’m reminded of happy hours spent watching the Jacques Cousteau TV programmes as a boy, and his duet with Placido Domingo, Perhaps Love, was a long time favourite of my ex, now late, wife – I hadn’t heard that song in over ten years and it brought so many memories flooding back into my mind.
What does it all *mean*?
Two reasonably priced collections – an easy way to obtain the best music of both these artists.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…