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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 August 2001
This live album is a staggering work of genius. A document of the often overlooked Bill Withers at the very height of his powers.The 9 minute version of 'Use Me' is amongst the funkiest things you'll hear, a 7-minute 'I can't write left-handed' puts the hairs up on you're neck, and I am not ashamed to say this live version of 'Lean on Me' has put tears of joy in my eyes. In my opinion all the versions of Bills classics here are the definitive versions. The energy on this record is wild, and the humour and warmth of the man himself comes right through the grooves. I my opinion there is more soul on this record than in the last 25 years of recorded music put together. I challenege you not to place this amongdt you're favourite albums of all time. A MUST OWN ALBUM. CHERISH IT, WORSHIP IT, IT'S AS GOOD AS IT'S GOING TO GET.
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on 28 January 2003
I own a lot of cd's and in particular, I own a lot of soul-cd's. But none of the other albums have the same feel and raw soul as this marvellous album. First of all, the songs are all earcatchers, but more importantly; on this album you can actually feel how Carnegie Hall must have been like that night in 1972. You can sense the audience and how they are completely in the hands of Withers and his band. Yes, he starts out of key on "Lean on me", but this album is so profound, heartfelt and really, really honest that it just adds to the illusion of "being there". Listening to Withers' talking humourosly and heartfelt of his grandmother in "Grandma's Hands" is the best part of the album, but most importantly - every minute of this album is pure raw soul as it was meant to be: A small band, the simple music and the wit and genius of an extremely gifted poet. Buy this album without hesitating!
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on 26 March 2006
Somehow I ovelooked this album in the 70's. I thought Donnie Hathaway live was one of the best live soul/gospel albums . I'll have to admit that this is pure brilliance, the perforance of the band is fantastic and Bill is superb.. Just buy this CD .... ASTOUNDING every track!
Why can't albums be like this today! Releas a DVD please!
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on 17 December 2012
Admittedley a subjective and bold statement but for me this is simply the best live album ever. Warm, melodious, humourous and full of the most well crafted songs. Its an album of humane vitality that touches all the posts of existence. Once you let this album in your life you will be richer for it, tust me.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 February 2013
I first heard this album about 40 years ago and just didn't get it. I think I was more into Bowie, T-Rex & the Stones. However 40 years on and revisiting this album after hearing it on Spotify and I now see what a superb album this is. Not only musically but also the in-between bits between tracks when Bill is speaking.

This album is very much of its era but the sympathetic and sometimes humorous way Withers comes across is timeless The music in itself is of the highest quality and is delivered by Withers and his band better than any cover version I have heard.

This is in my mind one of those albums that can deliver something for everyone whatever their musical taste, even if this is just the classic tracks 'Ain't no Sunshine' or 'Lean on me'. The more I listen to it the more I am getting from this album and the more I realize what I have been missing for 40 years of not having it in my collection.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 July 2015
Live albums are often dubious affairs- heavily edited and multiple over dubs, but not this one. This is a classic example of how a live album helps define an artist at their best- as in the case of BB King and James Brown, bringing out those qualities that a studio recording can only hint at. Recorded in 1973 at Carnegie Hall we get to hear Bill Withers and band in their natural element. Bill Withers is a great songwriter and a great communicator. In addition, He and his band just fizz creativity- they groove, they relax and they get soulful but without ever having to seem forced. There is no over playing (a common failing of live albums), the band are tight and Bill is in great voice.

It would be difficult to over praise this album, particularly as it features so many great tunes, and not just the famous ones like ‘Lean on Me’ and ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’(which receive wonderful readings) but also the hard hitting ‘I Can’t Write Left Handed’ and the stunning funk workout that is ‘Harlem /Cold Baloney’. Bill Withers is not some slick soul act, but a serious writer and performer, hear him plumb the depths on ‘Better off Dead’ and believe. Of course mention must be made of the introductory track, that paean to infatuation, ‘Use Me’, here the groove and the yearning combine to a produce something unforgettable. The recorded sound captures the concert in a very realistic fashion, the next best thing to have being in the audience.

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Columbia have many world-class box sets in their "Complete Album Series" – but you'd have to say that this BILL WITHERS winner is just a little bit more special than most. And with a thoroughly deserved Grammy win under the belt - it's time to review the great Soul Man's legacy - especially his brilliant but overlooked live double from 1973 – the fabulous "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall".

You can buy the CD for "Carnegie Hall" in two ways - a 1997 stand alone Remaster on Columbia/Legacy 488987 2 (use Barcode 5099748898722 to locate it) – a disc that gives you the full 14-track double-album onto 1CD (it was originally recorded 6 October 1972 at the famous venue in New York).

But I'd argue that Withers is too damn good to penny-pinch - so I'd advise to splash the cash and get the album within "The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums" 9CD Box Set released November 2012 to much acclaim. Sony Music/Legacy 88697894672 (Barcode 886978946720) is a truly stunning 9-album set with a 40-page colour booklet that can often be procured for under a twenty-spot. Not only do you get the mighty "Carnegie Hall" double but you nail "Just As I Am" – his debut from 1971 – the wonderful "Still Bill" follow up LP from 1972 – 1974's unfairly forgotten "+ 'Justments" and so much more - "Making Music" (October 1975), "Naked & Warm" (October 1976), "Menagerie" (October 1977), "'Bout Love" (March 1979) and finally "Watching You Watching Me" (May 1985). But for this review we’ll concentrate on Disc 3 of 9 - "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall" (77:09 minutes):

1. Use Me (Live)
2. Friend Of Mine (Live)
3. Ain’t No Sunshine (Live)
4. Grandma’s Hands (Live)
5. World Keeps Going Around (Live) - [Side 2]
6. Let Me In Your Life (Live)
7. Better Off Dead (Live)
8. For My Friend (Live)
9. I Can't Write Left Handed (Live) - [Side 3]
10. Lean On Me (Live)
11. Lonely Town Lonely Street (Live)
12. Hope She’ll Be Happier (Live)
13. Let Us Love (Live) – [Side 4]
14. Harlem/Cold Baloney (Live)
Tracks 1 to 13 are the live double album "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall" – released April 1973 on Sussex SXBS 7025-2 in the USA and A&M/Sussex AMLD 3001 in the UK.

The attention to detail in the Box set is pleasing - the first 4 discs sport the Sussex label as per the original vinyl albums while the following five have the red Columbia labels. "Still Bill" has its 'opening doors' front sleeve while the double "Live At Carnegie Hall" also has its original gatefold reproduced. Each card sleeve is now bordered in white but it looks and feels classy (even if the print is tiny). The chunky 40-page booklet doesn’t scrimp on detail either - track-by-track annotation with photos of the albums, rare music press adverts, liner notes by Michael Eric Dyson and even a letter from the great man himself at the beginning about his long musical journey.

But the big news for fans is the stunning new remastered sound carried out by a trio of engineers - MARK WILDER for 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 with 1, 2 and 7 handled by JOSEPH M. PALMACCIO and 3 (Carnegie Hall) done by TOM RUFF. Original analogue master tapes have been used in all transfers and what a job they’ve done... Right from the opening acoustic strum of “Harlem” on his fabulous debut album “Just As I Am” and onto the gutsy pump of “Lonely Town, Lonely Street” which opens the equally brill follow up LP “Still Bill” - the sound quality is truly glorious throughout. Beautiful feel - space around the instruments - clarity - warm bass - not to over-trebled - it’s a top notch job done and makes you re-hear all those wonderful songs anew.

Like 1972's single "Donny Hathaway Live" LP - 1973's "...Carnegie Hall..." vinyl double has garnished a legendary reputation amongst Soul aficionados. Intimate with his audience despite the venue size - a band cooking - songs that sway and groove. Five of its mainly mellow fourteen are exclusive - the impassioned love songs "Friend Of Mine" and "Let Us Love", the acoustic old-man weariness of "World Keeps Going Around", the aching anti-war song "I Can't Write Left-Handed" and "Cold Baloney" which is worked into a 14 minute encore with "Harlem". "Carnegie Hall" is a whole heap of magic and you can literally feel the audience filing it into their memory banks. When he launches into some of the debut album's finest moments - "Ain't No Sunshine" or the lesser-heard funk of "Better Off Dead" - you can literally feel the crowd loving it - grooving - whopping - whistling.

There's Funk on here too - "Lonely Town, Lonely Street" from the 1972 "Still Bill" LP is neck-jerking excellence. That's immediately followed by the exact opposite - "Hope She'll Be Happier With Him". It's a love song - tender and open like a wound - Withers sings "...maybe the lateness of the hour...makes me seem bluer than I am..." The cello builds, as he belts out those hurting lyrics "...over the darkness I have no power...hope she'll be happier with him..." His other huge hit "Lean On Me" elicits a whole-house handclap - a gorgeous Soul moment. This is a song that huge resonance and one that often moves me to tears and I’m sure a few were shed as this was played that October night way back 1972 New York.

Somehow like equal giants Bobby Womack, Minnie Riperton and Donny Hathaway - Bill Withers has always been the underdog of Soul - never spoken about in the same awe-struck tones that are routinely given to Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. In my book he’s always been right up there with the best of them - a world class Soul Brother - and this ludicrously good CD Remaster is a way in for us mere mortals to that musical greatness...

"...I loved that old lady..." - he says to the audience as he introduces "Grandma's Hands" on "Live At Carnegie Hall". Well - we feel the same about you mate. Beautiful and then some...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 August 2014
This was recorded over 40 years ago but you won't find a better `live' recording anywhere? Well, that's not strictly true is it, as the horns and strings on this album were overdubbed after the event so the live audience heard just the band playing.
That aside this album has a wonderful feel ( very happy clappy in places) and Withers is so at home with his audience that it's a real pleasure to listen to.
My favourite is `Lean on Me' which is almost a Slave work song / Gospel song in its message. `I can't write left handed,' is about the war in Vietnam with very prophetic words that certainly strikes home.
There's not a bad track on here and one just gets carried along with the concert - the whole thing is so easy going and instantly enjoyable and Withers is just brilliant with the audience. I wouldn't quite call it a classic but it's not far off of being one!
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on 3 January 2011
I had the original LP in the 1970s and it was played to death. Its probably one of the best live sessions to come out of that period, with the musician as tight and sweet as ever. When it was purchased for Christmas this year it went straight on, and bought back some nice memories. However, when listening to it again I was I little disappointed at the quality of the recording on CD the volume levels are all over the place, from about track 5 on. But don't let this detract, from a brilliant live CD where you can feel the buzz in the audience. Bill and the band were right on the button on the night.
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Must be. I have heard this a number of times and purchased it recently and its so good. He is such a great singer and he hits the high and long notes. Any downside - why does he keep thanking everyone for coming in the rain to see him. They bought tickets and din't want to waste their money Bill?

That aside, you must buy this in vinyl sit back in your favourite armchair and let the sounds of this this classic flow over you. Love it as much as I do.
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