Bill Withers, a native of the pastoral West Virginia hellhole of ‘Slab Fork,’ was working on an aircraft company assembly line in L.A. in 1970 and submitting demos of his music to record companies. A small company named Sussex Records signed him and released the single of “Ain’t No Sunshine” in 1971 and Bill was on his way, racking up five chart-toppers in as many years. The tune featured here, the 1972 release “Use Me,” is credited by some as having a major influence not only on the funk music of the mid ’70s, but also on the rap and hip hop genres. Sparse arrangement, funky lines and an almost talking vocal part bespeak the roots of all three styles. The now 73-year-old Withers all but retired from music in 1985, but it seems even the young ‘uns know his most popular songs — easy to see why: the groove and lyrics still sound fresh nearly forty years later.
H/t to Ricky L. for the idea.