December 05, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
We gave it an A-

When Bill Withers released Just as I Am in 1971, he was a thirtysomething factory worker who sang sweet, vulnerable soul narratives backed by tasteful acoustic guitar strumming. Released on CD for the first time, Just as I Am is still wonderful sun-kissed California soul, highlighted by the heartbreaking ”Ain’t No Sunshine” and the thumbnail portrait ”Harlem.” The DualDisc DVD has some welcome content, including excellent live clips and an interview with a surprisingly caustic Withers.

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