FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Artwork: front cover | 38:43 | 770 mb
Funk, Soul, R&B | Label: Columbia
"Menagerie" is R&B soul singer Bill Withers' sixth studio album. The record, originally released in 1977, is more fast paced than his previous records and features popular single "Lovely Day". In 1978 the album made it to the number 16 spot on Billboard's Top Soul Albums chart and number 39 on the Pop Albums chart.
Following the twin peaks of Still Bill and Live at Carnegie Hall in the early '70s, Bill Withers had a little trouble sustaining his peak of creativity, along with his chart positions. He still made good music and had hits, but had trouble delivering a consistent album that brought him back to the heights of his Sussex work. Finally, in 1977, he delivered Menagerie, an assured return to form by one of soul's greatest singer/songwriters of the '70s. If Menagerie doesn't have the earthiness or consistent brilliance of Still Bill, it nevertheless has a solid set of songs and an easy, relaxed charm that is thoroughly winning. Where his Sussex material was slyly eclectic, touching on a number of different styles, this album is more cohesive, a smooth album that points the way toward quiet storm while retaining a warm soulfulness, largely due to Withers' wonderful voice. Even when the tempo gets sprightly, as on "Lovely Night for Dancing," there's a relaxed vibe and a nice sheen to the production that keeps things even-handed and easy. As such, those listeners who preferred the darker undercurrents that ran through such songs as "Use Me" and "Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?" may find this a little too amiable, but that's just a matter of taste – this is an easy record to like, after all, with a consistent tone and a soothing vibe, plus a good set of songs. If it's not as distinctive as his Sussex records, it's nevertheless an undeniable high point in his catalog.
01. Lovely Day
02. I Want to Spend the Night
03. Lovely Night for Dancing
04. Then You Smile at Me
05. She Wants To (Get on Down)
06. It Ain't Because of Me Baby
07. Tender Things
09. Let Me Be the One You Need