Menagerie is one of Bill Withers' greatest albums of the 70s – a set that has hip stepping off the acoustic sound of his Sussex records, into a warm and jazzy style that we like every bit as much as his earlier work! The album's got a wonderfully sophisticated jazzy vibe, and includes the excellent cut "Lovely Day" – a perfect midtempo track with some great electric keyboards behind Bill's raspy soulful voice, and a great hook on the chorus! Paul Riser handled a lot of the arrangements – and other titles include "Wintertime", "It Ain't Because Of Me Baby", "I Want To Spend The Night", and "Then You Smile At Me".
Watching You is a sweet little 80s session from Bill Withers – a lot less acoustic than his soul of the 70s, but in a way that works surprisingly well! As always with Bill, the vocals are the main thing, and the passage of time has done nothing to take off his edge – that warmly raspy quality that's instantly recognizable, and which comes through with all of its original charm – even amidst the smoother, more electric approach of the album's backings. There's a number of tracks on here that hit a mellow, midtempo groove that works quite well – and Bill did most of the production himself, with help from collaborators who include Ralph MacDonald, Michel Colombier, and Denny Diante. Titles include "Watching You Watching Me", "Oh Yeah", "Something That Turns You On", "You Try To Find A Love", "We Could Be Sweet Lovers", and "Heart In Your Life". (CDs come in mini LP-style sleeves.) ~ Dusty Groove