Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bill Withers: Still Bill [Sussex, 1972]
Withers has created the most credible persona of any of the upwardly mobile soul singers, avoiding Marvin Gaye's occasional vapidity, Donny Hathaway's overstatement, and Curtis Mayfield's racial salesmanship. He sounds straight, strong, compassionate. And don't be fooled by "Lean on Me"--he's also plenty raunchy and he can rock dead out. The self-production here is adamantly spare, with Ray Jackson furnishing the hook of the year on "Use Me," one of the few knowledgeable songs about sex our supposedly sexy music has ever produced. A