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Customer Review

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless music from a unique voice - a poet for his generation, November 10, 2012
This review is from: Complete Sussex & Columbia Album Masters (Audio CD)
If you are struggling about buying the new Bill Withers box set released by Sony Europe having invested in re-issues of some of the CDs included in the set that are available elswhere on Columbia/Columbia Legacy, Reel Music, Raven and BBR - don't hesitate - especially with some sources selling it for around $23 (less than $3 a CD) on the Amazon site. The box brings remastered versions of "Watching You Watching Me" and "'Bout Love" on CD for the first time. The audio on the set is uniformly superb - although the 24 bit remasters by Bill Lacey on Reel Music/P & C of "Naked and Warm," and "Making Music" may have a very slight sonic edge - and the cardboard sleeve reproductions - including the gatefold on "Live" and the fold out of "Still Bill" which are nice - are made such that the sleeve can bend slightly such that most of the CDs can be removed without touching the surface and inflicting irreparable damage as the effort to remove the disc results in it being flung across the room. Kudos to Sony Legacy Europe and Leo Sacks for these features and the 40-page booklet. This set has been in constant play since it arrived 3 days ago. I had forgotten just how really, really good Bill Withers's music is.
The music has always been unique - in terms of writing style, topics ("Grandma's Hands") and Bill's voice - and difficult to characterize - as he has said "Too white for black radio, too black for white radio" - when such things were far more important than they are today. Since his last Columbia album "Watching You Watching Me" in 1985, Bill Withers has been conspicuously absent from the recording scene - but his music is an almost daily staple on XM Radio's "Soul Town" - a welcome relief to a diet overly rich in Motown since the demise of "Soul Street". He popped up on a duet with Jimmy Buffett in 2004 and demo'd some of his new work on the "Still Bill" DVD. I'm sure that a CD of new music would be welcomed by many of his fans. As one of the reviewers of the DVD noted, Mr. Withers is the music equivalent of comfort food - a great recommendation.
Limitations on this boxed set - none - except that a bonus CD (or a separate CD?) might have been in order that could have included Mr. Wither's vocals with Grover Washington, The Crusaders, Ralph McDonald and Bobby Womack (I'd pass on the duet with Jimmy Buffett), Better Days, The Gift of Giving, the Sunshine/Total Eclipse remixes from the 1990 CBS UK album - "Lovely Days" and the long lost and great 45, "USA" on the 1981 Iran situation that is as relevant in 2012 as it was then. Go listen to it on You Tube - in fact listening to the "Live" album while writing this, another Withers' masterpiece, "I Can't Write Left Handed" is as important and tragic today with Iraq/Afghanistan replacing Vietnam. Some things unfortunately do not change.
I'm hoping that Sony Europe's upcoming 15 CD box on Taj Mahal - including two rare CDs - does as good a job as this set. It is a gem.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 23, 2013 9:35:31 PM PDT
MS says:
hello, my name is marc and i'm on disability so funds r so limited but i am just now discovering mr withers music and am trying to save up so i can buy this box set from your review. i was wondering as u mentioned the note about they should have come up with a bonus cd of songs not included and i wondered if u have a bonus cd that you might b able to make and me send you a cd from my collection for it? idk enough of the songs that r not on the box but i liked the 'better days' song very much and def would want to have that as the sample sounded wonderful :) thank you for your time, marc
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