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These Songs for You (Live)

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Album Review

Few musicians gave more to their audience than Donny Hathaway. Capable of leading the section or letting the crowd take him away, a man whose sensuality oozed out of him on-stage but who also aired his struggles with despair and social unrest, Hathaway really had no comparison in soul music, or even pop music in total. (His closest kin, Sam Cooke, was the only one who possessed a similarly transcendent voice, gloriously simple yet with enormous depth.) Fans of latter-day soul music's most cathartic figure previously had two avenues to enjoy Hathaway in a live context: the brilliant original album Live from 1972 and the valuable document In Performance, issued in 1980 after his suicide (perhaps the most tragic death in pop history). Atlantic/Rhino's breathtaking compilation These Songs for You, Live! combines roughly half of those LPs and bolsters the program with six unreleased tracks (only some from the same concerts) and an interview. The results prove that, arranging skills aside, Donny Hathaway reached his peak facing not a mixing board but an audience of living (and often screaming) people. Compilation producers Dave Nathan and Barry Benson start out with a pair of light pieces, Hathaway originals "Flying Easy" and "Valdez in the Country," before beginning the heart of the disc, a selection of inspired covers. The choices are all formidable (though for a variety of reasons), including Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," the Hollies' "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On," and the Beatles' "Yesterday" (the latter, astonishingly unreleased, takes its place as one of the most gorgeous versions ever recorded of the most performed pop standard of the 20th century). No one could deny that these pieces are soaked in melodrama, though Hathaway's spirit and fire transcend the pathos so completely that in his hands they're transformed. His own "Someday We'll All Be Free" is another gorgeous performance, this one leavened by his alternate modes of piano playing, gospel arpeggios in the beginning but meaty jazz solos later on. These performances, all recorded between 1971 and 1973, provide the most compelling proof that it was Donny Hathaway who reached the pinnacle of true gospel-soul.

Customer Reviews

Donny Hathaway Live (circa 1971)

I sure do wish you'd feature the 1971 Donny Hathaway Live album on iTunes. Side 1 was live in LA; side 2 was in New York, I believe. It features magnificent takes on John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" and an iconic version of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On." It's the greatest live R&B album, by the greatest R&B vocalist. And just when you think you've been wowed enough by Hathaway--along comes comes the greatest recorded live R&B bass solo featuring Willie Weeks (later with the Doobie Brothers and many others) on "Everything Is Everything." Place the 1971 Donny Hathaway Live album on your CD shelve right beside Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On" album. Hathaway is THAT great!

Classic Singer!!!!

Donny Hathaway has a particular sound that is, simply, GRIPPING!!!

One other similar

One other person who comes close to Donny in my memory as far as a live performer is George Benson, the vocal styling is similar but Mr. Hathaway was like Luther Vavdross in that their voices were so distintive and unique and we lost them way too soon and they are missed.


Born: October 1, 1945 in Chicago, IL

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Donny Hathaway was one of the brightest new voices in soul music at the dawn of the '70s, possessed of a smooth, gospel-inflected romantic croon that was also at home on fiery protest material. Hathaway achieved his greatest commercial success as Roberta Flack's duet partner of choice, but sadly he's equally remembered for the tragic circumstances of his death -- an apparent suicide at age 33. Hathaway was born October 1, 1945, in Chicago, but moved to St. Louis when he was very young, and began...
Full Bio
These Songs for You (Live), Donny Hathaway
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: R&B/Soul, Music, Soul
  • Released: Jun 08, 2004

Customer Ratings