First Released: 1994
Commentary: Composer of two bona fide classics (“Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean on Me”) as well as tunes covered by everyone from Joe Cocker to Kiss, Withers sings with smooth, subtle phrasing that moves along over sinuous, sexy grooves. At times it all sounds so effortless that it’s often easy to overlook how substantial his work really is. Never flashy, Withers’s best songs burn with a kind of heat that lingers long after the last note has been played. This 18-song collection brings together a healthy collection of songs from this soulful singer-songwriter’s remarkable early-’70s Sussex albums, including such hits and near hits as “Grandma’s Hands,” “Who Is He? (And What Is He to You?),” and the seriously funky “Use Me,” as well as some gems from the later ’70s (including “Lovely Day”). If you’re weighing Lean on Me against the 10-song Greatest Hits, opt for this, the more generous option.
–Percy Keegan (Amazon.com)