The Upshot: Must-own concert document of the late soul icon captures him at his singing and performing peak.
BY FRED MILLS
Boasting a handsome gatefold/tip-on sleeve packaging and a numbered/stamped edition of 3000 copies, Live at the Bitter End 1971 is a must-own for any serious fan of soul music. Though jazz/gospel/soul/funk legend Hathaway would meet a tragic end, leaping to his death from the 15th floor of a New York hotel in 1979 following a baffling stint with mental illness, in 1971 he was absolutely on, as this record comprising a set recorded at the iconic venue clearly shows.
Similar material previously graced Hathaway’s Live album (1972), which also featured tunes cut at L.A.’s Troubadour, but this is a complete show featuring Hathaway and a crack quintet (guitarist Cornell Dupree, guitarist Mike Howard, bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Fred White, conga player Earl DuRouen) absolutely slaying a New York audience. From silky covers of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” to an extended reading of Hathaway’s signature funk workout “The Ghetto” and a jaw-dropping 21-minute bluesy jam called “Voices Inside,” there’s not a wasted note in any of the double album’s grooves.
Journalist Charles Waring contributes in-depth liner notes that additionally make the record a kind of Hathaway tutorial.
DOWNLOAD: “What’s Going On,” “The Ghetto,” “Voices Inside”