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Classic Album Reviews | Bill Withers | Still Bill / Menagerie

Two of the velvet-voiced soul stirrer's classic albums are paired in one mixed bag.

This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


If you had to condense velvet-voiced soul stirrer Bill Withers’ career down to his biggest hits, they would be 1971’s Ain’t No Sunshine and ’72’s Lean on Me.

You get the latter — but not the former — on Still Bill, the first of a pair of reminted Withers discs. Granted, the dozen tracks on Still Bill — like the strummy streetcorner funk of Lonely Town, Lonely Street, the dark string-laced groove of Who Is He (And What Is He To You)?, and the wah-wah bounce of Use Me — do their best to make up for the oversight. Adding bonus cuts from his 1973 live album is a nice touch, too — though I don’t see why one of them couldn’t have been Sunshine. But Still Bill is still more satisfying than ’77’s Menagerie. Like its title suggests, this disco-era document is a mixed bag of dance-floor grooves, sweet soul-pop and finger-popping basslines that tend to trivialize Withers’ soulful melodies by wrapping it in generic hustle-ready fluff. Ain’t no sunshine here, either.