LO'S PICK OF THE DAY - "Then You Smile At Me" by Bill Withers

 


Originally featured on Inside MusiCast

Last week, legendary drummer Alvin Taylor was honored by the City of Palm Springs, California and the Palm Springs Walk of Stars with a star in his name for his contributions to music.

There may be some who aren't familiar with Alvin's name but definitely are familiar with the tunes he played on. Back in the early 60's when Little Richard and a young Billy Preston were visiting the desert, Little Richard heard the young teenage Alvin play in Palm Springs and his response was "Oh, my God, honey, when I saw you playing the drums, my big toe shot straight up in my boot! Oooh, I wanted to scream like a white lady!' He continued with "Honey, I ain't heard a drummer like you since I left Macon, Georgia."

Alvin went on to tour with Little Richard, as well as tour & record with Billy Preston, Eric Burdon & Animals, Pacific, Gas & Electric, Barry White, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Welch, George Harrison, Leo Sayer, Elton John and more.

This week in my choices of "Picks," I'll be featuring tunes that Alvin played on, like this one by Bill Withers. From the 1977 (not 1979) release; "Menagerie," this album was Bill's sixth studio release. The top hit from this album is "Lovely Day, " and remains one of Bill's signature songs.

The 4th track on side one, "Then You Smile At Me" features other great musicians. Ray Parker Jr. on guitar, Jerry Knight on bass, Clarence McDonald on keyboards, Ralph MacDonald on percussion, with string and horn arrangements by Paul Riser and Charles Veal as the concertmaster.

I love the way this song has that easy breezy vibe to it. Alvin's style of playing, as consistent he is in his rhythm, seems to be in sync with Bill's vocals while Jerry Knight's plays those funky bass notes, walking up and down the frets.

Menagerie was a bit of a departure from Bill Withers' previous releases, which were more self-reflective and serious and Menagerie more light-hearted and fun. This song moves and grooves with it's perfect mix of jazz, funk & disco rhythms. If you've not heard it in a while or at all, take a listen now and enjoy!

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