Bill Withers

The Essential Bill Withers

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More generous than the 20-track The Very Best Of, Essential Bill Withers is a 34-track anthology that features all of Withers' notable singles, along with other highlights from the singer's albums for the Sussex and Columbia labels, from 1971's Just as I Am through 1985's Watching You Watching Me. This is a fine and extensive introduction to Withers' catalog, featuring "Ain't No Sunshine," "Lean on Me," "Use Me," "Lovely Day," and "The Same Love That Made Me Laugh." He also recorded scads of excellent deep album cuts that could not fit. In 2013, the lovingly packaged The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums Collection -- released the previous year -- retailed for roughly three times the price of this set. Anyone with a serious interest in Withers' work should seriously consider that option, though it doesn't contain "Just the Two of Us," the big hit from Grover Washington, Jr.'s Winelight album.

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