For his sophomore album, Withers collaborated with members of Charles Wright’s Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. Still Bill is more confident sounding, which means that it loses some of the intimacy of the debut. There’s less of the acoustic soul of Just As I Am and more funk grooves; it’s another very strong, and very underrated album, it’s just not quite as unique as the debut.
The enduring song from Still Bill is ‘Lean On Me’ – it’s subsequently translated into dance and hip hop versions, but Withers’ version is endearing, written about the loss of community he felt after leaving his hometown of Slab Fork, West Virginia. The groove based songs that follow ‘Lean On Me’ are also strong – ‘Use Me’ is a nuanced tale of a bad relationship, while ‘Kissin’ My Love’ rides a laid-back shuffle – while there are still delicate, heartfelt songs like ‘Let Me In Your Life’. ‘Who Is He (And What Is To You)?’ is surprisingly paranoid from the usually genial Withers.
Still Bill isn’t quite as distinctive as Withers’ debut, but it’s a fine followup – both albums have been lost a little in the shuffle of great albums from the early 1970s, but are well worth discovering.