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Donny Hathaway

These Songs For You, Live! (Rhino)

It must've been fun to go to concerts in the 1970s, back when artists didn't dick around with pyrotechnics and special effects and worthless-ass video montages. Back then, they knew that to impress an audience, they actually had to perform. The L.A. fans Donny Hathaway sings for on several tracks of These Songs For You, Live!certainly sound like they're being wowed. They joyously sing along with the late, great performer on Carole King's "You've Got a Friend," clap like crazy on "The Ghetto" and go wild as he covers "What's Goin' On," Grady Tate's "Sack Full of Dreams" and a long-lost rendition of "Yesterday."

In addition to the L.A. material, which had never been released domestically on CD, the Rhino set also includes an interview and some newly unearthed concert rarities, among them his much-sought-after cover of Stevie Wonder's "Superwoman."

These Songs boldly illustrates how Hathaway was as much in a class of his own on stage as he was in the recording studio. Just listen to the way he replaces the absent trumpet solo on "Someday We'll All Be Free" with his ivory tickling -- the song never loses the powerful, inspirational impact its studio version delivered. (You have that beautiful, church-bred voice of his to thank for that.) Hathaway's demons claimed him at 34 in 1979, but this album shows that, if nothing else, he was truly at peace when performing.

 
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