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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Best of Bill Withers: Lean on Me
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134 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Bill Withers had a low key career that lasted only 14 years, in which he released some of the most beautiful music ever to grace this earth.
Although the Amazon.com reviewer incorrectly indicates that Bill only had two huge hits, "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean on Me", he/she must have not have done his/her due diligence as "Use Me" and "Lovely Day" also were smashes, but Bill is not about his "hits" but about his amazing ability to sing songs that are sexy, smooth, spiritual and does it in an understated manner that does not come off as generic, but serves as an example of a true original.
Listening to this amazing release (which should be the only one to buy if you are in the market as there are at least 3 out there) you get a feeling of all being well with the world. The remastering is amazing and the songs sound even more effortless than ever yet they stick with you for days.
I am amazed at not having discovered a fuller spectrum of Bill's work until now, as all the non-hits sound at catchy and lovely as the hits. Again, I have to express my surprise at how a seemingly low key performer manages to put together songs that stay with you longer than any of the "anthems" or even better known songs and/or performers.
Buy this at once if you love melody and music that is as relevant today as when it was first released. In my opinion, this greatest hits package should appeal to those who are seeking every "neo-soul" artist that puts something out there but, with some exeptions, nothing is better than the real thing.
There is not a dud in this 18-song collection and I can't remember the last time that I have experienced that.
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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2005
Format: Audio CD
This has to be the best compilation of Bill Withers' life's work that's out there. Not only has the sound been very well remastered for a great sounding cd but the choice of tracks are also very good. "Lovely Day" is what made me want to know more about the artist and "Just the Two of Us" and "Lean On Me" among many others have made me a great fan.

BW's voice is really good and how he sustains that looong note at the end of "Lovely Day" I'll never know. Just great music and great heartfelt soul from a curiously relatively unknown musician. A worthy addition to any cd collection and a lasting classic. If you are into great soul singing and well-written tracks, then this is the cd to get.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Bill Withers? You probably already love a lot of his songs and don't even know it yet. The funk classic "Use Me," heard in the film "American Beauty?" Bill Withers. The pretty "Lovely Day" from the Gap Soul commercial? Our man, Bill. "Lean On Me," which you've undoubtedly heard and loved countless times? Thank, Mr. Withers. "Just the Two of Us," which is so popular, Mike Myers did a take off on it in "Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me?" Courtesy, Bill W. Why more people don't realize all these great songs - as well as such lesser-known gold nuggets like "Grandma's Hands," "When I'm Kissin' My Love," and "Ain't No Sunshine" - are the work of one enormously talented R & B singer/songwriter is beyond me. If you like classic soul/R & B, you gotta add this CD to your collection.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I have know most of these songs for a long time. But it is nice to hear them remastered and all in one place for a change!

The front and back cover art is very tastefully done! Nice photos. The liner and it's notes are really well done... nice work guys! The case itself is very nice also... somewhat typical, but a little stronger built than most crystal cases.

Now for the songs. Lovely Day, Ain't No Sunshine, The Same Love That Made Me Laugh, Use Me and Just The Two Of Us are all headliners! And wow do they sound good here, remastered!

A few suprises are 'I Want To Spend The Night', 'Let Me Be The One You Need' and 'My Imagination'. I haven't heard those in years. Once again, wonderfully remastered.

I would give this collection 10 stars, but that isn't possible. This is a fantastic collection of 60's-70's soul. Soul music that has lived well beyond those years. Very polished, heartfelt songs that have a life of their own.

I encourage anyone who likes meaninful, well-done ballads and funky soul to buy this collection... you honestly couldn't get any better.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2001
Format: Audio CD
A comprehensive overview perhaps of Bill Withers' recording career but for my money, I'd stick to any greatest hits compilation that focusses on his sterling early 70s material. His mid to late 70s and 80s recordings pale badly by comparison. It's not his fault. The soul music scene had changed, so he had to adapt or die. You should start with Track 7 ("Ain't No Sunshine") and work your way right through Track 13 ("Who is He and What Is He To You"), then jump back to the opening track ("Lovely Day") and end on Track 6 ("I Wish You Well"), and you'd have experienced pure aural bliss. Forget about the rest if you want to avoid a let down after listening to classics and gems like "Grandma's Hands", "Lean On Me", "Harlem" and "Use Me". The earlier "Greatest Hits" compilation which stops at his late 70s releases may be preferred for this reason alone. Whichever you prefer, Bill Withers made timeless music during his heyday, so it's essential we have a "best of" compilation to remind us of his genius.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Bill is actually remembered for very few hits of his own, but his songs are popular among other singers, who record cover versions and sometimes have hits with them. This is one of several compilations that allow you to hear Bill sing his own songs in his own particular style.
Of Bill's songs, Lean on me is the one that is most frequently covered. It is a classic, anthemic song that can be interpreted as a love song or as a gospel song, while its basic simplicity allows it to be adapted to many different musical styles. Nevertheless, among Bill's own hits, the first one that comes to mind is actually Lovely day, partly because others have had a hit with Lean on me (so people who know the song don't always associate it with Bill) and partly because Lovely day is such a fantastic song anyway.
But Bill's great songs don't end with Lean on me and Lovely day - Ain't no sunshine, Just the two of us, Use me and Grandma's hands are just a few of the other great songs here and on other Bill Withers compilations.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I've read all the reviews on this album through Amazon, and I totally agree that the incomparable, upbeat Lovely Day is certainly one of the most joyous, happy songs ever written. And of course Lean On Me. That one was my all-time favorite Bill Withers song, but then on this greatest hits collection, I ran into another gem of a song, " Let Me Be The One You Need". That, to me is one fine piece of beautiful music. I can listen to it over and over again and still get the same vibes as when I first heard it. I love the way Bill puts his heart into the song, the same way he does for Lean On Me. It's funny how I've listened to Bill Withers for most of my life, but I don't recall " Let Me Be The One...." Which is still a good thing, because now in this adult life, I can really appreciate and relate to the words and music even more. Like I said before, everyone really hit home about the other hits on this great album, but I remind you all, let's not forget "Let Me Be The One You Need". Just buy the CD and play it, or if you already have it, listen to this gem. It's what a love song is all about.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
The one word that best describes Bill Withers, besides talented, is gentle. Everything about his style is warm, unassuming, and tender. In fact, he's such a skilled craftsman that it's easy to forget that he's done something almost unheard of in show business. Withers wrote and performed a string of huge hits, stayed true to himself throughout, and left show business with a boatload of money. Today his songs are frequently covered by other artists and show up with clockwork regularity in TV commercials. There's a word for that, guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any creative artist, that word is "royalties." When Bill Withers released his second album he called it "Still Bill" because he wanted his fellow construction workers to know he hadn't changed, in fact, on the cover he wore a hard hat.

The breakout success of "Menagerie" introduced the entire country to his amazing gifts as a songwriter, penning tunes that were always deceptively simple and featured amazing hooks, they stayed in your head and were easy to like. The Two Of Us, which he recorded with Grover Washington, Jr., became a music industry legend, remaining on the charts not for months but years. Withers is not a great singer, but his voice is soft and pleasant, matching his style perfectly. His lyrics are always excellent, and there's a wry subtlety that seems to suggest a sly wink. Songs like Use Me offer blatant humor, Who Is He? offers a more sinister view of irony. Tender Things is one of the most perfectly beautiful songs every written by anybody, Lovely Day is joyous, Ain't No Sunshine is universally resonant, and Lean On Me is an anthem that never fails. Perhaps easiest to overlook is Grandma's Hands, a rich and powerful tribute one can imagine being performed by the Isley Brothers or The Spinners.

Nobody does sincere emotion like Withers, and yet, from him it doesn't cause a blush, it makes you melt. Listening to Bill Withers soothes your soul and it makes you smile, where else can you get that for $8? There are several Best Of Bill Withers anthology CDs available; this is the one you deserve.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
After what proved to be a difficult search for the artist who sang "Lovely day", I came across this album. I recognized three other songs by title - "Lean on me", "Grandma's Hands", and "Just the two of us". I was, at the time, suprised that this artist who's name I did not know was responsible for at least four soul classics. After listening to the entire compilation, I can say that Bill Withers, although his career was relatively short, has produced some of the most engrossing soul I have heard in my spiritedm though still young, exploration of 70's soul.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
Excellent collection. This one has virtually every one of his major hits from ain't no sunshine to just the two of us. Bill Withers has a very easy going voice and sound that is a equal parts soul, folk and pop. Almost every cut is a stand out. My favorites are the immortal Grandma's hands, lean on me (of course), Use me, The funky who is he and what is he to you, Same love that made me laugh, loveley day I want to spend te night....pretty much the first 12 songs. If you only know Bill Withers from Lean on me or from the music in those gap commercials this is the essentail album to get. You'll love it.
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