12 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time Withers recorded his debut, 1971’s Booker T.-helmed Just as I Am, he was a well-lived 32-year-old who had done time in both the armed forces and factories. The album is, without reservation, one of the greatest, most personal soul LPs ever recorded. Mixing ’70s-style singer-songwriter confessionals with ’60s Southern soul, it crossed genres and racial boundaries, topping both the pop and R&B charts, and defining a moment in early ’70s music. The huge “Ain’t No Sunshine” draws you in and then Withers’ grabs you with everyday truths, which populated the other tunes — culminating on “Better Off Dead,” where an alcoholic commits suicide after drinking away his woman and life. Yes, his songs are fraught with melancholy and sadness, sometimes with zero redemptive qualities; they’re very vérité in a sense, like life. The album feels and sounds like it had to be made, that other options were none for a West Virginian son from a tiny coal-mining town who grew up in a world of railroad yards, welfare lines, and deceitful congregations.

Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time Withers recorded his debut, 1971’s Booker T.-helmed Just as I Am, he was a well-lived 32-year-old who had done time in both the armed forces and factories. The album is, without reservation, one of the greatest, most personal soul LPs ever recorded. Mixing ’70s-style singer-songwriter confessionals with ’60s Southern soul, it crossed genres and racial boundaries, topping both the pop and R&B charts, and defining a moment in early ’70s music. The huge “Ain’t No Sunshine” draws you in and then Withers’ grabs you with everyday truths, which populated the other tunes — culminating on “Better Off Dead,” where an alcoholic commits suicide after drinking away his woman and life. Yes, his songs are fraught with melancholy and sadness, sometimes with zero redemptive qualities; they’re very vérité in a sense, like life. The album feels and sounds like it had to be made, that other options were none for a West Virginian son from a tiny coal-mining town who grew up in a world of railroad yards, welfare lines, and deceitful congregations.

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5
42 Ratings

42 Ratings

Roboforce ,

Hope She'll be Happier

While the whole album is great, "Hope She'll be Happier" is frankly THE best song every written. The depth, emotion and simplicity of the song is indescribable. Bill Withers is a genious. A deeply soulful and talented man.

startupnation ,

AN AMERICAN TREAURE

A nod to a track on this album: Apart from his considerable songwriting skills, Bill Withers' gospel/folk flavored cover of Paul McCartney+ John Lennon's "Let it Be" brings a new dimension to a song that will delight fans of all three artists. Mr Withers' range as a singer, songrwriter, performer -- and his versaltile ability to make musical trends work for him -- be it Soul, Disco, Funk, Country, Gospel, or American Standards -- should make his debut album a must-have for every serious music lover. Period.

TSTRICK ,

The Best ALL AROUND!!!!

Bill Withers is FINALLY inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame (04/15/15) and this album is perhaps the primary reason. While his entire discography houses some amazing work, it was "Just As I Am" that got the people's attention. To this day, "Ain't No Sunshine" is still in constant rotation (even if on Hippie radio). "Harlem" has been one of my favorite songs since I could remember and I'm still haunted (yet fascinated) by the gunshot in "Better Off Dead". Sweet Wanomi and Nilson's "Everybody's Talkin'" make the whole album totally worth the listen. Congratulations to my favorite singer/songwriter of all time...Rock n Roll Hall of Famer, Mr. Bill Withers. -TJ

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