Friday, 1 April 2011

Random Review #38 Bill Withers - Live At Carnegie Hall

C8S11CD14 This CD was picked by my Twitter friend and ex work colleague @misstones apart from a mild obsession with Lady Gaga her music taste is pretty sound, she spends most of her time stalking celebs in London and works in the world of high fashion so #FF @misstones.

So on to the music I got into soul music because of Van Morrison, and I got into Van Morrison because of the Waterboys, that might sound arse side forward but I didn't grow up with soul music other than the crap stuff from the 80's Luther Vandross etc all big suits and synth beats so I discovered soul music from a the 90's and for a good few years I listened to nothing else.

I love the classic artists, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, Otis Redding James Brown etc, but then I started to go a bit deeper, Ann Peebles, Bobby Womack, Johnny Taylor, James Carr. Sly Johnson, OV Wright, and this artist Bill Withers. I think Bill sits somewhere between the 2 groups, we all know what is possibly the best ever Summer song, Lovely Day and Lean On Me has been on every Valentines and Mothers Day compilation since it was released but after that how many of you could name another Bill Withers song?

Bill Withers used to work fixing aeroplanes prior to making it big in the music industry and when he realised that he hated the music industry he gave it all up, something that I both hate and admire him for, as I feel we were robbed prematurely of a great great artist.

There is a real honesty to Bill Withers music, he writes about things that in a slightly different way than most others, guess what I'm trying to say is at the time lots of artists wrote about the Vietnam war but Withers song, I Can't Write Left Handed about a soldier who had lost his right arm in the war had a slightly different take on it.

So to the album, one of my favourite live soul albums I have the classics, James Brown Live at The Apollo etc, but this is stunning for a number of reasons. It starts with Use Me a funk groove that forces you to dance whether you want to or not, and then they keep on coming, Ain't no Sunshine, (one of the greatest love songs ever written in my opinion) and then the bit that gets me every time the monologue that precedes Grandma's hands is a thing of beauty just on it's own, I never ever get bored of listening to it. It can make me laugh and cry within the space of 3 minutes. Grandma's Hands is an amazing song, and if you have been lucky enough to have been close to your Grandmother(s) then you will understand exactly what he is talking about. I could write for days on Bills songs, Let Me In Your Life. Lean On Me, Harlem are all here, it's pre Lovely Day so that isn't but hell it it was I think I might just have spontaneously combusted when I listened to it! One last comment on the songs, as I mentioned I Can't Write Left-Handed is about Bill's conversation with a US Soldier back from Vietnam, Bill's comment  which makes me laugh, is 'the soldier said getting shot at didn't frighten me, it was getting shot that frightened me' humour on a very serious subject.

It's been no hardship  listening to this album in fact it has been a joy. If you don't have any of Bill Withers music all I can say is why not?

The video is only still picture but it's the live version of Grandma's Hand so listen it's worth it!

Mark 9/10 ( As it doesn't include Lovely Day)

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