Tue. Oct. 19, 2021

Bill Withers – Who Is He (And What Is He to You)

Lost but not least! Bill Withers – Who Is He (And What Is He to You) (Sussex Records)

‘Lean On Me’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, ‘Lovely Day’, ‘Use Me’, ‘Just The Two Of Us’ (which he recorded with the late Grover Washington, Jr. )… As many classics Bill Withers came to lead with instantly identifiable voice. With ‘Who Is He (And What Is He to You)’, co-written with Stan McKenny and taken from his 1972 ‘Still Bill’ album makin’ no exception. Although…

If ever ‘Who Is He (And What Is He to You)’ may have got the status of a classic along with time, not much has been done back then for this to happen. With the latter, as strange as this may seem, only appearing as the flipside of ‘Harlem’. Was it because of its original concept, on a mellow kida Bluesy vein? Because of its bittersweet love theme? I guess the response belongs to Clarence Avant who was the head of the label back then…

‘Who Is He (And What Is He to You)’ would nevertheless be given a boiling 11 minute + Disco cover version the year after by Sussex Records label mates Creative Source. Then by Meshell Ndegeocello 23 years later in her ‘Peace Beyond Passion’ album. US rapper L.L. Cool J using its famous bassline on the 1997 released ‘Phenomenon’.

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