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Bill Withers / The Complete Sussex and Columbia albums box set

Bill Withers / The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums 9CD box set

The best Bill Withers product is back in print

When reflecting on the sad death of Bill Withers recently on Saturday Deluxe, I mentioned that the best item to try and get hold of was the out-of-print Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums nine-CD box set. Well, as it turns out Music On CD were in the process of preparing a reprint (before Bill died) of what was originally a Sony Music product and this will be released next month.

The clamshell box set features all nine of Withers’ albums recorded between 1970 and 1985. That’s four on the Sussex label (including Live at Carnegie Hall) and five on Columbia.

This set comes with a very good 40-page booklet and upon its original release, way back in 2012, I made an early SDE unboxing video, which is slightly rough around the edges, to be honest, but at least affords you the opportunity of a closer look (ignore the pricing comments at the end). The only difference with the new box is that this is licensed by Music On CD and not coming direct from Sony – other than that, it’s identical.

This Bill Withers box set is being released on 15 May 2020 and is available from the SDE shop, among other retail channels (it’s not available on Amazon UK at the moment).

Compare prices and pre-order

Bill Withers

Complete Sussex & Columbia Album Masters (9CD)

Currency:

CD 1 -Just As I Am (1971)
1. Harlem
2. Ain’t No Sunshine
3. Grandma’s Hands
4. Sweet Wanomi
5. Everybody’s Talkin’
6. Do It Good
7. Hope She’ll Be Happier
8. Let It Be
9. I’m Her Daddy
10. In My Heart
11. Moanin’ and Groanin’
12. Better Off Dead

CD 2 – Still Bill (1972)
1. Lonely Town, Lonely Street
2. Let Me in Your Life
3. Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?
4. Use Me
5. Lean on Me
6. Kissing My Love
7. I Don’t Know
8. Another Day to Run
9. I Don’t Want You on My Mind
10. Take It All in and Check It All Out

CD 3 – Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall (1973)
1. Use Me
2. Friend of Mine
3. Ain’t No Sunshine (Live)
4. Grandma’s Hands (Live)
5. World Keeps Going Around
6. Let Me in Your Life (Live)
7. Better Off Dead
8. For My Friend
9. I Can’t Write Left-Handed
10. Lean on Me (Live)
11. Lonely Town, Lonely Street (Live)
12. Hope She’ll Be Happier
13. Let Us Love
14. Cold Baloney

CD 4 – +’ Justments (1974)
1. You
2. The Same Love That Made Me Laugh
3. Stories
4. Green Grass
5. Ruby Lee
6. Heartbreak Road
7. Can We Pretend
8. Liza
9. Make a Smile for Me
10. Railroad Man

CD 5 – Making Music (1975)
1. I Wish You Well
2. The Best You Can
3. Make Love to Your Mind
4. I Love You Dawn
5. She’s Lonely
6. Sometimes a Song
7. Paint Your Pretty Picture
8. Family Table
9. Don’t You Want to Stay?
10. Hello Like Before

CD 6 – Naked & Warm (1976)
1. Close to Me
2. Naked & Warm
3. Where Are You?
4. Dreams
5. If I Didn’t Mean You Well
6. I’ll Be with You
7. City of the Angels
8. My Imagination

CD 7 – Menagerie (1977)
1. Lovely Day
2. I Want to Spend the Night
3. Lovely Night for Dancing
4. Then You Smile at Me
5. She Wants to (Get on Down)
6. It Ain’t Because of Me Baby
7. Tender Things
8. Wintertime
9. Let Me Be the One You Need

CD 8 – ‘Bout Love (1978)
1. All Because of You
2. Dedicated to You My Love
3. Don’t It Make It Better
4. You Got the Stuff
5. Look to Each Other for Love
6. Love
7. Love Is
8. Memories Are That Way

CD 9 – Watching You Watching Me (1985)
1. Oh Yeah!
2. Something That Turns You on
3. Don’t Make Me Wait
4. Heart in Your Life
5. Watching You, Watching Me
6. We Could Be Sweet Lovers
7. You Just Can’t Smile It Away
8. Steppin’ Right Along
9. Whatever Happens
10. You Try to Find a Love

65 responses to Bill Withers / The Complete Sussex and Columbia albums box set

  1. Rae Fisher says:

    From the U.S. here. Just recieved my copy of the box set via SDE shop. Very pleased with how fast the shipping was. Highly recommend this shipping service if the live in the U.S. as well.

    Looking forward to the Donna Summer concert this july as well!

  2. Gerbrand says:

    Release seems to be postponed ? Amazon.UK now says May 19, but it still doesn’t appear on some other amazon sites. Any news, Paul?

  3. Geoffrey Kavanagh says:

    Very happy to see this box being re-issued as Bill Withers was always one of my favourite singers. Does anyone know what happened to the video content found on the DualDisc of “Just As I Am”? There was a 2006 documentary with Withers along with “rare vintage performances” of “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “I’m Her Daddy” and “Harlem”. It would be nice to have this material in another, easier to obtain, format. As it is, I guard this version jealously!

  4. Ricardo Perfecto says:

    A wonderful set, glad to see it in print again. I got it first time around. Bill has always been in my top two soul singers with Al Green. Also loved the fact that he saved his money and walked away from the business when he was fed up with it. Not many manage to do that rather than stay on the treadmill.

  5. plasket says:

    Great news, unfortunate timing. Glad to see this label continue to reissue the Sony boxes (following the Nina Simone and Sam Cooke sets). There are some absolute gems in this line, and some of them were only available through Sony’s online storefront.

  6. Paul Taylor says:

    £35 including postage for 9 albums is a no brainer
    Ordered from SDE shop.
    Thanks again Paul

  7. bruce skelso says:

    beautiful music to heal the soul, and what a better time for it. peace to all

  8. Kreso says:

    I know it’s off topic but Sony are reissuing Miles Davis “metal spine” Complete sessions box sets.
    Then are fantastic for collectors with wealth of material and are looking great on the shelf.

    https://www.milesdavisstore.com/dept/the-complete-sessions?cp=99754_107908

    • plasket says:

      Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

      No, seriously, I very nearly bought the “Genius of Miles Davis” box (which is just the eight boxes inside a trumpet case) from eBay. The “On the Corner” set disappeared almost immediately.

      Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but maybe they’ll reissue the live boxes (Plugged Nickel, Cellar Door) next.

      • Kreso says:

        I know, “trumpet box” is very expensive these days. I own them all and for me On the Corner and Jack Johnson are essential. There is a lot of music here that you probably won’t hear twice, but the packaging and wealth of information is fantastic. I own Bitches Brew 40’th anniversary and complete Columbia box sets and but this is my favorite edition of particular album.
        For a lot of People Plugged Nickel is the favorite of all of them.
        I hope they will be released in Europe as well.

  9. DaveM says:

    I highly recommend this set, fabulous sound as well. The first two albums plus Carnegie are absolute classics and theres a lot to love about the other albums too. At the price point you really can’t go wrong, plus this was approved by Bill Withers on original release (and most likely for the repress), so it’s better than an unapproved by the artist cash in down the line.

  10. Kauwgompie says:

    Thanks Paul. I’m curious to know if the new box set also has “Still Bill” gatefolded in the middle and “Live At Carnegie Hall” as a regular gatefold. Looking at the picture I think the answer is no but hard to see especially “Live At Carnegie Hall” as that one was a regular gatefold.
    I bought the original box for a very reasonable $25, with a little patience that is probably where this box will land price wise. Nice this is getting reissued. Great albums, brilliant voice.
    That video isn’t bad at all!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      I’m expecting the new box to be more or less identical to the old one… but we shall see. I did that video one-handed, with a mobile phone, with poor lighting… but hey, it was early days. Thanks anyway!

      • Chris Squires says:

        I had some work that I did in 2007 come back to me the other day for a re-shoot. Embarrassed wasn’t the word for it. Ashamed was more close to it, but as Paul says you work with what you have and learn as you go along.
        It is something we should always think about with artists as well. Some artists first couple of albums will always be the best that they can ever be and they slowly trail off into mediocrity, marriage and mortgage. Whilst some artists grow into something far superior only after several albums and years have passed and half a decade after their debut do they finally become what they always wanted to be..
        As fans we forget that our favourite album and associated b-sides from 1985, that are among our most cherished memories, is probably something that makes the artist cringe, as teenage lyrics and melodies are revealed let alone the demo that never even made it to the audience. In conversation with one such artist he said it was like having your sixth form homework crawled over for hidden meaning. There was none.

        Of my favorite artists I can think of five straight off the top ‘o me noggin. Three that fit the latter, the late bloomers, and two that were the early birds and the masterpiece was first up.

  11. SimonP says:

    Hope this isn’t OOP again before I get another job. My Easter bonus last Thursday was redundancy with immediate effect!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Really sorry to hear that Simon…

      • SimonP says:

        Cheers, Paul. It’s not a new thing for me to be honest. I think this is the sixth or seventh time I’ve been laid off! What is new is having it done in the middle of a pandemic when all the companies that might be hiring are currently closed…

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Indeed. I had a terrible time in the 90s being made redundant a few times on the trot with different jobs. Hard not to take it personally sometimes!

          • SimonP says:

            I moved to Wiltshire in 2003 from the home counties and have lost every job I’ve had here via redundancy. I don’t think I’d ever want to move back that way, but I’m starting to think either this county or myself is jinxed! I was laid off from my first two jobs in Berkshire, too, to be fair.

        • Kauwgompie says:

          Sorry to hear that Simon. Sending you strength and light. Many people being laid off, it’s truly a terrible time. Hopefully when the “economy” opens back up, companies are quickly hiring again and that you’ll be one of the first ones to be back in a job. Be well!

          • SimonP says:

            Thanks. This wasn’t strictly a pandemic related thing. I think the company had always planned to close the place at the end of March and then just went ahead regardless. Rather heartless to lay off a whole factory full of people in the middle of this madness just to save some money (they moved our production to another site).

  12. professormouse says:

    Could they not release the Live @ Carnegie Hall album with the overdubs scrubbed off ?
    Then there might be a reson to buy it again.

  13. Marc Hocker says:

    Which album was Just The Two Of Us on? I can’t see it in the nicest.

    • Carlos says:

      Just The Two Of Us was released on the Greatest Hits album in 1981. Unfortunately, if one’s allowed to nitpick something about this box set, those “non-album” tracks are not included here.

      • David Bly says:

        Carlos…

        While Bill was able to get “The Two Of Us” on his “Greatest Hits” album in 1981, the reason it was not on the box set previously, and also not now, might be because the Grover Washington, Jr. album and single were on Elektra, and maybe Warner Music didn’t give Sony the rights to it when the box set was first released.

        Also note that on Jimmy Buffett’s “License To Chill” album from 2004, Bill co-wrote one song with Jimmy – “Simply Complicated”, and he wrote one song by himself “Playin’ The Loser Again” on which Bill added vocals.

        For what it’s worth, that album features songs mostly not written by Jimmy Buffett and also has vocals by Alan Jackson, Clint Black, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Martina McBride, and Nanci Griffith.

        The album was on Buffett’s Mailboat Records, and while I imagine he would’ve licenced it, Sony might’ve not known it existed. I didn’t know until I did an online search.

    • Hatfield says:

      The album is Grover Washington Jr.’s ” Winelight.

    • Michael says:

      I think it was on a greatest hits from around 1980.

    • Poop says:

      Not from a Bill Withers album

    • Àlex Cuartero says:

      Marc, “the song originally appeared on Washington’s album Winelight (1980). Bill Withers included the edited version on the 1981 compilation Bill Withers’ Greatest Hits and many subsequent greatest hits collections.”

      (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_the_Two_of_Us_(Grover_Washington_Jr._song))

    • professormouse says:

      It’s a Grover Washington song that sings on.
      There’s a version on his Greatest Hits album….’s.

    • Jason M says:

      Grover Washington Jr’s “Winelight.” Kinda like Smooth sung and co-written by Rob Thomas was on a Santana album.

    • Brett says:

      That was actually a Grover Washington Jr song that Bill guested on. It appears on the former’s “Winelight” album (in album length form). Cheers.

  14. Pete says:

    Didn’t know the brits appreciated Bill Withers or american r&b music! Good on you all! – a yank from across the piss pond

  15. Carlos says:

    Good news. Even if this release was prepared only because of his death (which was not, as you have explained) it’s good news since it was out of print.

  16. oskar says:

    Hello Paul, thank you for the publication of this reissue, many music lovers were waiting for this news. I do not understand the criticism, does it matter if this box is reissued now or a year from now? I had the intention of buying the CD live from Carnegie Hall, and with this opportunity I will be able to enjoy his discography. In Amazon Spain, when you buy it in presale, you can download the autorip in mp3, so I can enjoy it during this pandemic. Thank you very much Paul!

  17. Harry Curtis says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for letting us know about this great opportunity. Ordered my set from you as a small thank-you for all the good info you provide me. Some of those early responses were way out-of-line. Great response on your part.
    Harry

  18. Florentino Stabile says:

    Hi Paul,
    I for one never owned any of his music…. always loved it and now I will have the chance on owning it all. Pre-ordered it. Supporting you at SDE…. and the fact that Bill Withers is an incredible artist.
    I cannot wait to get this. Great price and thank you for offering it at this time. If ever there wasa time that we needed sunshine coming into our ears, heart and mind it is NOW.
    Again thank you.

  19. mark browne says:

    I found bull withers recently via Spotify, I don’t mean the known songs, his other work, what a voice…looks like another pick up from side shop

    And paul thanks for getting both the tears for fears boxsets to me…it arrived on my birthday ( how did you know)

  20. Frank Sidebottom says:

    and i take it , the money made goes to his family, or is another record company rubbing their hands as one of their artistes dies ?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The money goes to the same place it went to when he was alive, and he was happy with that before, and wrote some notes for the booklet of this box set. Next!

    • Klaus says:

      “Music On CD (and “Music On Vinyl” for LP-supporters)” are both well-known and respected labels who re-release albums that have been at least several years OOP or even never before released in said formats.

      They are in the business since 2013 and also known for NOT trying to fill their own pockets with money (what can’t be said about several major labels) but to release their stuff for a reasonable price.

      Like this Bill Withers-box they have also re-released Sony’s “The Complete RCA Albums Collection” by Nina Simone recently (as recommendable as the Withers-set) and AFAIK Miss Simone is gone for quite some time.

      Both of these boxes cost about the same as the Sony-editions when first released and i think that there are a lot of collectors who missed out on these first time round and are now grateful for both availability and price of these sets.

      Sometimes it helps to learn some facts first before one comments and make an ass of oneselves.

      • Gerbrand says:

        Music on CD also reissued the similar “Sam Cooke – The Rca Albums Collection” box recently. Also recommended.

  21. Jimboo says:

    Wow ! The man is barely in the ground and his fans ( who would already own this material) are able to pay ‘tribute’ to his memory by giving some vulture easy money because he made a cardboard box and the cheapest c.d package imaginable. Why do people decide to honour and support artists when they die?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      If you are going to criticise ‘people’ why not get your facts right? This is the same box that was issued in 2012 – like most sets in rigid card packaging. He approved it when he was alive so I imagine it’s not an insult when he’s dead. It has been out of print for ages, so there is pent up demand regardless; it’s simply a sad coincidence that he died recently. Also, if you think someone has jumped on the bandwagon by putting this out just because he’s died, then you clearly don’t know how long it takes to license music from a major label.

      • Martin says:

        Crikey Paul why are people so negative around this – I pretty much only knew Bill Withers from the hits so after your recommendation really looking forward to this one – The original sells for wacky prices so a re-release helps more people become acquainted with his much surely a win win

      • No More Lonely Nights says:

        Hang on a minute Paul
        Yu didnt post my
        “this is bowie spinning in his grave” post yesterday
        (re: the new screen shot of repetion 97)

        Lets not get holier than thou
        x

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          You’ll be asking me to publish people’s oh so pithy quotes from Paint A Vulgar Picture the next time Morrissey reissues something…

      • Jimboo says:

        Facts are previously issued and then re-isued days after death. Imaganing his and his families thoughts on this are conjecture at it’s best.Pent up demand because it was out of print ? I guess if the person responsible for this was so determined to do him justice a. It would have stayed in print and b. If you are waiting 8 years for a re-issue and licencing I am pretty sure you would be decent enough to wait at least a few months until releasing this. Poor taste , sadly the norm.
        This is not a personal attack on you. However, I do feel your excitement towards releases have overruled your values of decency.It was available on discogs for them that wanted it.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Decency. Really? Putting together some kind of shoddy best of, in haste, would have been unsavoury, but there is nothing wrong with making this excellent box set available again. It was going to happen anyway. There is clearly an audience for it. What better way to pay tribute to this artist than make this available for music fans to enjoy? Sony let it go out of print, so you’ll have to ask them why that happened.To look at this another way, if this box had been still in print, would you have expected it to be withdrawn as a mark of respect? So what’s the difference?

          • Jimboo says:

            Mmmm , your last point is frankly ridiculous and poorly thought out.If you honestly can not see the difference I could not in a month of Sundays convince you otherwise. My point wasn’t necessarily about the standard of the package it’s quality I guess is a moot point. My objection to the timing is what sticks in the craw.
            Honestly? I fail to see the ‘quality ‘ / price as any reason to condone this.
            As you say , it was going to happen anyway. The only original on Discogs (last sold in Feb) has just hit the roof. It’s all about the money.
            RIP Bill.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            You brought up quality as part of your reasons for being offended (“cardboard box and the cheapest c.d package imaginable”). When I point out that it’s not bad quality and it was previously approved by Mr Withers you decide that it’s suddenly a ‘moot’ point. There is no logical reason why this coming out is disrespectful. His body of work being available for everyone to enjoy at this time is a good thing. You are coming at it from an emotional standpoint and seem determined to be offended. In which case carry on, but I’m fine with it and I’m sure most people are, to be honest. It’s patently obvious it’s not any kind of cash-in.

          • Jabber says:

            Paul,
            Don’t feed the trolls. Some blokes (a good many actually) need to tear other ppl down in order to make their crappy life more palatable.

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            You are right.

    • Jason M says:

      $40 for 9 discs is sure to make some vulture rich! I suppose you are far more talented with economic analysis than I could ever dream of. What with music sales going over 19 trillion last year, you have a point. And in the last ten years, Bill Withers has outsold U2 and The Rolling Stones combined. So Paul might make SDE half a billion and retire. Imagine the gall it takes to suck all this money from the world economy. I love Bill Withers and it will be nice to see this make billions for his family and a few vultures.

      • Jason M says:

        My somewhat funny somewhat lackluster sarcastic response to Jimboo looks so out of place under Paul’s response to some Morrissey comment I don’t understand. Then again, I like chaos. Paul, as others have noted, your site is very helpful, so I bought the Bill Withers box, and could not resist the Tears For Fears book. Thank you for educating the buyers of physical product.

  22. Mick says:

    Great news, especially given the discouraging prices for the original set. Thanks Paul, pre-ordered from SDE Shop.

  23. Martin says:

    Also heard they are releasing the album’s on vinyl – especially the brilliant Live at Carnegie

  24. Fredpostman says:

    I brought this first time around and all 9 albums have their merits ,for instance the great lost single ‘Oh Yeah’ from ‘Watching You Watching Me’.
    A fantastic artist he never made a duff album,and these 9 are a joy to listen to.

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