Bill Withers

Lovely Day: The Very Best of Bill Withers

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A highlight within Sony's already impressive Bill Withers reissue campaign was this, a 20-track collection that spanned the singer's full Sussex and Columbia careers, to illustrate just what a broad range of material he was producing in his prime. The big hits ("Lean on Me," "Ain't No Sunshine," "Use Me," "Lovely Day") are dispensed with very early on. From there, the album ranges through the full range of Withers' catalog, hitting all the expected highlights -- and if the lion's share of material comes from the first two albums and 1977's Menagerie, then that's only to be expected. But 1985's generally overlooked Watching You Watching Me at least turns in its excellent title track, and there are some fine moments from Making Music as well. Of course, a mere "best-of" is no substitute for the full Withers experience, but anyone seeking a well-rounded introduction to the man, or fans who just want something to spin in the car, will find Lovely Day an indispensable summary.

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