Thursday, May 10, 2012

40 Year Itch : Dadgummit-ah!

Bill Withers followed up the folk soul of his debut Just As I Am by taking over the production reins and enlisting members of the Watts 103rd Rhythm Band to raise the funk. And the funk do cometh especially on raunchy cuts like the #2 pop hit "Use Me" and "Who Is He ( And What Is He To You)?". Makes you wonder if some  Foxy Brown kind of lady entered his life right about the time "Ain't No Sunshine" hit Number One. You know, the kind who is too much woman for one. But not enough for two. Using him until she used him up.

No matter how funky things get, Withers plays it cool . We've all probably heard "Lean On Me" too many times by now. But next time,  listen to the song in the context of all the gospel soul that was hitting the charts in 1972: Aretha Franklin's Young Gifted And Black and Amazing Grace, The Staple Sisters's "I'll Take You There", Jesus Christ Superstar. The Rolling Stones's "Let It Loose" and "Shine A Light"? Could the compassionate singer be JC himself?

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