Bobby Womack


Band members                             Related acts

- Bobby Womack (aka Robert Dwayne Womack) (RIP 2014)  --

   vocals, guitar

 

  backing musicians (1972)

- Tippy Armstrong -- guitar

- Barry Beckett -- keyboards

- Howard Bishop -- drums, percussion

- Harrison Calloway Jr. -- trumpet

- Ronnie Eades -- sax

- Bobby Emmons -- keyboards

- Pam Grier -- backing vocals

- Roger Hawkins -- drums, percussion

- Patrice Holloway -- backing vocals

- David Hood -- bass

- Jimmy Johnson  -- guitar

- Mike Leach -- bass

- David Quillen -- trombone

- Janice Singleton -- backing vocals

- Harvey Thompson -- sax

- Cecil Womack -- backing vocals

- Curtis Womack --  backing vocals

- Friendly Womack Jr . -- backing vocals

- Harry Womack -- backing vocals

- Bobby Wood -- keyboards

- Reggie Young -- guitar

 

  backing musicians (1973)

- Barry Beckett -- keyboards

- Pete Carr -- guitar

- Clayton Ivey -- keyboards

- Roger Hawkins -- drums

- David Hood -- bass

- Jimmy Johnson -- guitar

- Jerry Masters -- bass

- Dave Turner -- guitar

 

  backing musicians (1974)

- Tippy Armstrong -- lead guitar

- Barry Beckett -- keyboards

- Pete Carr - lead guitar

- Roger Hawkins -- drums

- David Hood -- bass

- Clayton Ivey -- keyboards

- Jimmy Johnson -- rhythm guitar

- Rhino Rheinhart -- lead guitar

- Truman Thomas -- keyboards

- Cecil Womack -- backing vocals

- Curtis Womack -- backing vocals

- Friendly Womack Jr. -- backing vocals

- Harry Womack (RIP 1975) -- backing vocals

 

  backing musicians (1976)

- Jonathan Blair -- electric violin 

- Jackie Clark -- guitar

- Cosme Deaguero -- vibes

- Roger Dollarhide -- piano

- Ernie Fields -- flute

- David Foster -- keyboards

- Charles Fullilove -- guitar

- Glen Goins -- guitar

- Catherine Gotthopper -- harp

- Rene Hall -- strings

- Jim Keltner -- drums

- Ken Khrisitian -- guitar

- Sneaky Pete Kleinow -- steel guitar

- Joe Lala -- percussion

- Linda Lawrence -- vocals

- Bill Lordan -- drums

- Larry Otis -- guitar

- Peace -- horns

- Chcik Rainey -- bass

- Soko RIchardson -- drums

- Robert Robertine -- drums, percussion

- Ron Selico -- drums

- Williams Smith -- organ

- Paul Stallworth -- bass

- Sundray -- vocals

- Truman Thomas -- keyboards

- Leon Ware -- keyboards

- Bill Withers -- vocals

- Larry Zack -- drums

 

 

 

- Sugar and Spice

- The Valentinos

- The Womack Brothers

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Understanding

Company: United Artists 

Catalog: UAS 5577-G
Year:
 1972

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear on cover

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 1605

Price: $25.00

 

When Bobby Womack died in June, 2014 , 1972's "Understanding" was the album I pulled out of the-to-listen-to pile. I'd heard the album dozens of times over hte years, but it was a favorite in Womack's catalog and having recently listened to some not-as-impressive Womack releases, a couple of weeks prior to his death I had actually pulled it from the shelves to give it another spin.

 

So all hyperbole aside, this was simply one of the strongest album's in Womack's extensive catalog.  Womack came to the recording sessions with some of his strongest material, seemingly inspired by the success Sly and the Family Stone and other acts were having in melding soul and rock influences.  The tunes were recorded at Memphis' American Studio and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Womack surrounded himself with some of the best sessions players of the era and their collective talents showed across these nine songs (three recorded in Memphis and six in Muscle Shoals).  So where do you start?  There were only three tune I thought were marginal ...  and on another album they probably would have been rated even higher.  Womack's cover of Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' was straightforward.  nice, but nothing special.  His cover of Jim Ford's 'Harry Hippy' has sentimental value to Womack friends, but the melody was bland and the lyrics were surprisingly cold.  That let and album with a stunning sight quality performances.   How can you pick from classics like 'I Can Understand It', 'Woman's Gotta Have it', 'Ruby Dean', and 'Thing Called Love'?  Classic Womack.  Just go buy a copy.   

 

"Understanding" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Can Understand It   (Bobby Womack) - 6:36

Simply one of the best things Womack ever did, 'I Can Understand 'It' was simultaneously a hardcore funk tune (the native drumming pattern was killer) and a touching love tune.   If you only thought Al Green could handle a come-to-Jesus, I'd suggest you check out the last two minutes of this one.   United Artists tapped this one as a UK single, but stick with the extended album version:

- 1972's 'I Can Understand It' b/w 'Harry Hippy' (United Artists catalog number UP 36462)   rating: ***** stars

2.) Woman's Gotta Have It  (Bobby Womack - Linda Womack - Daryl Carter) - 3:35

'Woman's Gotta Have It' is probably the tune he'll be immortalized by ...   The tune's always reminded me a bit of Marvin Gaye's best work - funky, slinky, and seductive at the same time.  Some may disagree, but I'd argue the secret ingredient on this one was Mike Leach's mesmerizing bass line.   United Artists tapped it as the leadoff US single:

- 1972's 'Woman's Gotta Have It' b/w '(If You Don't Want My Love) Give It Back' (United Artists catalog number 50902) # 1 R&B; # 60 pop

 I think it was recorded at 1991 concert in London, (the hair styles and synthesizer touches would support that contention).  The cheesy synthesizers were a bit of a distraction, but the song was so strong, ultimately it didn't matter:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxnAUobJD1Y     rating: ***** stars

3.) And I Love Her  (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:46

I'll readily admit to being skeptical Womack would be able to do anything with this Beatles cover.  His cover slowed it down, giving it an orchestrated love man feel and while it may not have been as good as the original material on this album, it made for one of the better Beatles covers you'll hear.   rating: **** stars

4.) Got To Get You Back  (Chris Green - Jerry Lynn Williams) - 2:53

Womack getting in touch with his old-school soul roots.  Very nice.   rating: **** stars  

5.) Simple Man   (Bobby Womack - Joe Hicks) - 5:58

As mentioned earlier, folks tend to forget what a good guitar player Womack was.   The funky 'Simple Man' should set that oversight straight.   Fuzz overdose.   Always loved the James Brown-styled shrieks and wondered if the 'everyday people' refrain was meant as a nod to Sly and the Family Stone ...     rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Ruby Dean  (Bobby Womack - Joe Hicks) - 3:27

'Ruby Dean' was another album surprise - who would have ever thought adding country flavorings (pedal steel and harmonica) to a "bad mother" lyric would work?   The song's breezy charms were hard to ignore.  Surprising that someone like Kenny Rogers never covered it - particular since the song bore a mild resemblance to Rogers' own 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town'.  Joe Hicks also recorded the song and his version is well worth tracking down.  rating: **** stars

2.) Thing Called Love   (Joe Hicks) - 3:57

Another Joe Hicks composition, 'Thing Called Love' had kind of an early Motown feel and showcased Womack's multi-tracked lead and backing vocals.   Could have been a dandy single.  rating: **** stars

3.) Sweet Caroline   (Neil Diamond) - 3:13

Womack's decision to cover Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' has always been kind of a mystery to me.  Great tune, but his cover didn't stray far from the original which left you wondering why he bothered.  Pleasant, but inconsequential.  Equally odd, credited to "Bobby Womack & Peace", United tapped it as the third US single:

- 1972's 'Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good) / Harry Hippie' (United Artists catalog number 50946)  # 16 R&B, # 51 pop   rating: *** stars

4.) Harry Hippie   (Jim Ford) - 3:40

'Harry Hippie' was never a song I particularly enjoyed.  The melody was kind of perfuncotry and the lyrics seemed surprisingly tough. At the same time I knew there was a connection to the late Harry Womack.  Wikipedia had a quote from Bobby Womack explaining the tune's mening "Harry was the bass player and tenor for the brothers when we were the Valentinos. He lived a very carefree life. As a child he always said he wanted to live on an Indian reservation. We used to joke about it, but when we got older he was the same way. He always thought I wanted the materialistic things and I said, 'I just want to do my music. My music put me into that comfortable territory.' He didnít want the pressure. We used to laugh and joke about the song when Iíd sing it. When he was brutally killed in my home, it was by a jealous girlfriend who heíd lived with for four years. She fought a lot, violence. And in our home it was considered to be worth less than a man to fight a woman, so he didnít fight back and she stabbed him to death.

"At the time I was in Seattle doing a gig and he was going to join me when we got back. Previously I had hired a new bass player because I felt it would help [Harryís] relationship with his partner if he werenít on the road. And that turned out to be very sour. He ended up losing his life behind it. At that time ['Harry Hippie'] wasnít a joke anymore; I had lost a brother. I still do that song in his honor today."  YouTube has a nice 1991 performance featuring Womack and Alltrinna Grayson (available on the Soul Seduction Supreme DVD):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5JehlTaH7g   rating: **^ stars

One of Womack's biggest sellers, the album hit # 7 on the US R&B charts and # 43 pop.

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Facts of Life

Company: United Artists 

Catalog: UA LA 043F
Year:
 1973

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: includes poster attachment

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2190

Price: $25.00

 

Recorded in Muscle Shoals with support from drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood and the rest of The Swampers, for some reason 1973's "Facts Of Life" hasn't gotten the same attention as the proceeding album "Communications" and some of Womack's other releases.  That's curious since song-for-song this one was way up there.  Admittedly, for a Womack album there weren't that many originals.  That may have put some folks off, but anyone listening to the set would reach the same conclusion - what a cover's album.  Perhaps the way to look at this one is that decades before it became a popular recording move, Womack was again ahead of the times, recoding what today would be termed a "covers" album  ....  Self-produced the album found Womack turning in a patented mixture of pop, "love man" ballads, and more up-tempo soul tunes.  There were plenty of highlights scattered throughout the set.   He effortlessly turned the old blues chestnut 'Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out' into his own song, with similar results with material from Sam Cooke ('That's Heaven To Me'), George Soule ('Can't Stop A Man In Love'), and Jimmy Hendrix ('All Along the Watchtower').   One of my favorite Womack albums.

 

The album continued Womack's string of commercial successes, hitting # 6 on the R&B albums charts and # 37 on the pop album charts.     

 

"Facts of Life" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out   (Jimmy Cox) - 2:55

Every now and then you come across a song that's worth the price of admission for the whole album.  I'd argue Womack's cover of the old Jimmy Cox track qualifies as one of those tunes.  There are literally dozens of versions of this tune; Sam Cooke, Janis Joplin, B.B. King, Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith  ...  the list goes on and on.   Showcasing Womack's purring voice and always overlooked lead guitar, his slightly jazz-tinged cover has always struck me as the classic version.  One of those tunes you can't shake out of your head.   United Artists tapped it as a single:

- 1973's 'Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out' b/w 'I'm Through Trying to Prove My Love to You' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW-255-W)  # 2 R&B; # 29 pop    rating: ***** stars

2.) I'm Through Trying To Prove My Love To You   (Bobby Womack) - 4:00

The thing I always loved about this one were the backing vocals.  Un-credited, but they gave the song this fantastic blend of '70s soul and '50s doo wop feel.   Another wonderful song.  rating: **** stars

3.) If You Can't Give Her Your Love Give Her Up   (P Mitchell - Clayton Ivey) - 2:41

That opening laugh and rap ...  classic.   Add in a breezy melody, the Memphis Horns, his patented throat shredding yelps and this was a near perfect old school slow dance tune.   Should have been released as a single.   rating: **** stars

4.) That's Heaven To Me  (Sam Cooke) - 2:47

If you've ever heard the Cooke original, this cover won't replace it in your memories.  That said, Womack turned in a nice version with his voice actually reminding me a bit of Cooke.   One of the sweetest tunes he ever recorded.   rating: **** stars

5.) Medley 

    i.) Holding On To My Baby's Love (George Jackson - R. Moore) - 2:33 

If you ever wondered how good the Muscle Shoals crew were, then I suggest checking out the 'Holding On To My Baby's Love/Nobody Medley'.  The strummed opening guitar was to-die-for and this one should prove Roger Hawkins is God's designated drummer.  Yeah, it sounded like a studio jam that someone was lucky enough to capture on tape.  If this was just a jam, what did they sound like when they got serious about recording?   rating: **** stars   

    ii.) Nobody   (Bobby Womack) - 0:45

Okay, this was just a minute of throwaway nonsense, but who cared coming at the end of a near perfect side?   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)

1.) Medley

   i.) Fact of Life   (Bobby Womack) - 3:40

Womack's opening vamp making fun of himself was a classic segment.  Yeah, it went on way too long - basically the whole song, but it was funny "it's cool to have a man 9 to 5").   rating: *** stars

   ii.) He'll Be There When the Sun Goes Down   (bobby Womack) - 2:45

Womack's actually vocal didn't start until the second part of the melody ...  sweet, breezy melody with a funny "man-on-the-road" lyric.  Hope Womack wasn't married at the time he recorded this one.   rating: *** stars

2.) Can't Stop A Man In Love   (George Soule -  Terry Woodford) - 2:30

Anything George Soule wrote was great and 'Can't Stop a Man In Love' wasn't an exception to the rule.  Possibly the album's most commercial and radio-friendly tune, you had to wonder how this breezy track got overlooked as a single.   rating: **** stars

3.) The Look of Love   (Burt Bacharach - Hal David) - 3:30

Unlike George Soule, not everything Bacharach-David did was great.   'The Look of Love' is a classic tune, but Womack's version was kind of a mess, bouncing between jazzy and soul moves.   The only thin that saved it from mistake status were the wonderful harmony vocals that unexpectedly kicked in at the end of the sound.   rating: *** stars

4.) Natural Man   (Carole King - Gerry Goffin - Jerry Wexler) - 2:45

Kudos for being brave enough to cover this tune, but there simply wasn't any way he was going to turn in something better than the Aretha classic performance.   Switching the lyrics around was cute, but not enough to make this an album highlight.    rating: *** stars

5.) All Along the Watchtower  (Jimi Hendrix) - 3:20

Given the rest of the album had kind of a laidback, "love man" vibe, a cover of 'All Along the Watchtower' seemed like a strange way to end the album.   The surprising thing is how good Womacks' cover was.  Musically this wasn't a major change from the original arrangement, but Womack's voice was a good match for the song and having Roger Hawkins and David Hood holding down the rhythm section certainly didn't hurt the end result.   One of the best Hendrix covers I've ever heard.  rating: **** stars

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 5 stars *****

Title:  Lookin' for a Love Again

Company: United Artists 

Catalog: UA LA 199-G
Year:
 1974

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: crease on lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2361

Price: $25.00

 

Its funny how time tends to distort things, including one's memories of music.  As a young teenager, I have a clear memory of hearing 'Lookin' for a Love Again' all over the radio and being instantly beguiled by the song.  As a 15 year old I had no idea who Bobby Womack was, but I have a clear memory of buying the single at my local base exchange.  Not only was it one of the first singles I'd ever purchased, but  it was one of the first soul singles I ever bought - funny to think that it had never occurred to me that Bobby Womack was a soul single - I simply loved the song.  Anyhow, in my memory both the single and the parent album were massive hits with blanket radio coverage.   Turns out the single was a mega hit - top ten hit on both pop and R&B charts, but the parent album which is widely labeled a classic soul release, only hit # 85 on the pop charts and # 5 on the R&B charts.  

 

Those memories aside and in spite of the album's lukewarm sales, 1974's self-produced "Lookin' for a Love Again" is a classic soul album and one of Womack's creative zeniths.  Recorded in Muscle Shoals with support from the cream of local studio musicians, all hyperbole aside, the first five songs made for what is one of the best sides of soul ever recorded and with the exception of a needless cover of a country standard, the flip side was almost as good.   Womack seldom sounded as good, his raspy, instantly recognizable voice effortlessly taking on a wide variety of musical genres including old school soul (the title track), supper club ballads ('Let It Hang Out'), country ('Copper Kettle'), and even straight ahead rock ('Let It Hang Out').  Working in comfortable surroundings (Muscle Shoals), certainly didn't hurt Womack and the whole album has an easy-going fun feel.  There was nothing forced or artificial across these wonderful performances.

 

"Lookin' For a Love Again" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lookin' for a Love   (James W. Alexander - Zelda Samuels) - 2:37

Originally recorded in 1962 by Womack when still a member of The Valentinos, Womack reportedly rerecorded 'Looking For a Love' as a throwaway during an early rehearsal session for this album and was reluctant to release his update, only doing it when his brothers and supporting musicians insisted on it.   His biggest commercial hit, the song had had everything you want to hear in a song- great melody; fantastic multi-tracked lead vocals (brothers Cecil, Curtis, Friendly, and Harry were featured on backing vocals), stinging Southern guitar, and wonderfully cheesy synthesizers.  Yeah, the lyrics were a bit on the sexist side (perhaps no worse than your typical rap song), but Womack's pleading delivery sounded sincere and heartfelt.   In a sad irony, while the song was still on the charts, brother Harry was stabbed to death by a jealous wife who supposedly found female clothing in Harry's closet.  The clothing supposedly belonged to one of Bobby's female friends.   If you've never heard it, YouTube has a nice clip of Womack doing the song on Soul Train; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNjSBkGUOTU     rating: ***** stars

2.) I Don't Wanna Be Hurt By Love Again   (Bobby Womack) - 3:26

The opening chords have always reminded me a bit of Stevie Wonder's 'My Cherie Amour', but elsewhere the song is classic Womack - a wonder blend of breezy pop and soul, with heartfelt lyrics and Womack's often overlooked guitar chops.  This one should have been every bit the hit the title track was.  rating: **** stars

3.) Doing it My Way   (Bobby Womack) - 5:36

Yeah, it had kind of a supper club, jazzy aura that coupled with a brief spoken word segment will be a turn off to lots of listeners.  Still, the dreamy ballad 'Let It Hang Out ' also had some great forlorn lyrics and showcased Womack's cool voice.  The perfect song for someone suffering from recent heartbreak.  The "wet behind the ears, my nose was still clean" lyric was ironic given Womack's subsequent battles with various demons and drugs.    rating: **** stars

4.) Let It Hang Out   (Bobby Womack) - 2:22

Womack's always  been one of those rarities - namely a soul artist who can cut a gritty rock and roll song.  Anyone who doubts that statement need only listen to the blazing rocker 'Let It Hang Out'.  Full of fuzz guitar and with Womack's voice roughed up even more than usual, this was an album highlight that should have been released as a single.  The only criticism of the song was that it faded out way too early.  Well worth checking out, even if it was done with backing tapes,  YouTube has a Soul Train clip with Womack doing a medley of this song and 'Point of Know Return' at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOM9SPjv570&playnext=1&list=PLA600D14322EBF7DD&feature=results_main  rating: **** stars

5.) Point of No Return   (Jim Ford) - 2:44

Showcasing some of Barry Beckett's spare keyboards and songwriter Jim Ford on backing vocals, 'Point of No Return' was the perfect example of Womack's talent for handling country-soul.  Imagine Clarence Carter playing it straight and you'll get a feel for what this beautiful track sounded like.   One of my favorite album tracks - simply irresistable.    Again, shame they faded it out so quickly.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) You're Welcome To Stop On By   (Bobby Womack - Truman Thomas) - 3:40

Tapped as the album's second single, 'You're Welcome To Stop On By' was a slinky, soulful number powered by Womack's gruff voice and what sounded like an irrisistable mini Moog gurgling along in the background.  Yet another track that would have benefited from a longer album cut.   rating: **** stars

2.) You're Messin' Up a Good Thing   (Clayton Ivey - Terry Woodford - F. Johnson) - 2:34

Has Clayton Ivey ever written a bad song?  Unlike the rest of the album, the breezy 'You're Messin' Up a Good Thing' had a distinctive '60s soul edge, complete with Motown-styled backing vocals.  As a major '60s soul fan this was another hidden treasure that would have made a dandy single.  Not sure who was responsible for the wonderful guitar guitar fills ...   rating: **** stars

3.) Don't Let Me Down   (Truman Thomas) - 2:04

Written by keyboardist Truman Thomas, 'Don't Let Me Down' unleashed Womack's funk demons.  He'd go on to record entire albums that couldn't match these two minutes of joy.  Why was it so friggin' short /  rating: **** stars

4.) Copper Kettle   (A.F. Beddoe) - 3:17

Opening up with a snippet of studio chatter, 'Copper Kettle' was a country number given a Womack soul sheen.  Nice dobro and accordeon touches with Womack again showcasing his often overlooked chops on acoustic guiatr.  Simply because I'm not a big country fan I'm given it a slightly lower rating.  rating: *** stars

5.) There's One Thing That Beats Falling   (Bobby Womack - Truman Thomas) - 2:42

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better Womack ended the set with 'There's One Thing That Beats Falling' - coupling a fantastic melody, his amazing voice, fuzz guitar, and some nice homespun philosophy, it just didn't get any better than this.   rating;: **** stars

 

- The album spun off two of Womack's best singles:

 

 

- 1974's 'Lookin' for a Love' b/w 'Let It Hang Out' (United Artists catalog number UA XW-375-W) # 10 pop; # 1 R&B

- 1974's 'You're Welcome To Stop On By' b/w 'I Don't Wanna Be Hurt By Love Again'  (United Artists catalog number UA XW-439-W) # 59 pop; # 5 R&B

 

One of the few albums that deserves the label classic soul where the sum of the album exceeds the individual songs (hence the five star rating), and one of the few albums I have start to finish on my iPhone music app.  

 

 



Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  I Don't Know What the World Is Coming To

Company: United Artists

Catalog: UA-LA353-G
Year:
 1976

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1 

Catalog ID: 2371

Price:  $15.00

 

 

I'm a big Bobby Womack fan, but I'll be honest and tell you that by the time he released 1976's "I Don't Know What the World Is Coming To", Womack's patented formula was beginning to sound tired and stale.  Add to that the fact Womack seemed to be in a dark personal space (check out his the lyrics to 'I Don;t Know') and you had the makings of a difficult album.  So let me start by saying Womack's instantly recognizable voice remained in prime form.  The guy literally could have sung pages out of a phone book and sounded intriguing.   He was also too talented to turn in an album without at least a couple of decent performances.   In this case the highlights came in the form of a remake of The Valentino's 'It's All Over Now' (featuring the great Bill Withers) and two up-tempo performances co-written by brother Cecil Womack - '(If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On I' and the first three minutes of 'Jealous Love'.  From there things were far less impressive with Womack seemingly falling back on tried and true formulaic material to pad the album.  Lots of spoken word interlude, squealing and scatting, fuzz guitar interludes, spiritual ruminations ...  none of it could make up for the album's overall flat and uninspired feel.

 

"I Don't Know What the World Is Coming To" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Medley: Interlude # 1 / I Don't Know  (Bobby Womack / Bobby Womack - Truman Thomas) - 3:14   rating: ** stars

The first minute was a bluesy ballad which abruptly shifted gears into a fuzz guitar  powered stomper.   The problem was 'I Don't Know' simply wasn't a very good performance.  You would have thought the twin lead guitar line-up of Womack and Glen Goins  would have been impressive, but the results were brittle and kind of irritating.   

2.) Superstar   (Cecil Womack - Mary Womack) - 3:33    rating: ** stars

'Superstar' was written  by brother Cecile and his wife Mary Wells (of Motown fame). I've always disliked Womack's spoken word vamps, and when combined with a heavily orchestrated, country-flavored melody, this one never got to first base.  

3.) (If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It    (Bobby Womack - Cecil Womack) - 3:40   rating: **** stars

Crap, more spoken word vamping ... Yeah, I know Womack was trying to sound street tough, but you almost had to laugh at his stab at sounding badass.  Well, at least (If You Want My Love) Put Something Down On It' had a funky melody to go with it and some nice backing vocals.

4.) Git It  (instrumental)  (Bobby Womack - Leon Ware) - 4:22    rating: *** stars

Maybe because it was pretty much an instrumental (Womack screaching the title track over and over towards the end of the song),  'Git It' has always struck me as being an unfinished studio piece.  Regardless, I've always liked the combination of William Smith's organ and Glen Goins lead guitar.  Quite funky.

5.) What's Your World   (Leon Ware) - 5:11    rating: *** stars

Leon Ware wrote the song and actually recorded it a couple of years earlier.  Whereas Ware's version was a smooth, power ballad, Womack re-set it with a funky arrangement (Ware playing keyboards).  Full of squealing electric guitar and Womack's slinky voice, I would have given it an even high rating were if not for the shrill and irritating vocals from someone credited as Sundray.  My vote goes to the Ware original.

 

(side 2)

1.) Check It Out   (Bobby Womack) - 3:56    rating: *** stars

Nah, it wasn't a monumental Womack performance, but with a bouncy, easy-going feel 'Check It Out' was easily the album's best performance.  Supposedly Sly Stone is somewhere in the mi.  I've never been able to pick him out.  United Artists tapped it as a single:

- 1976's 'Check It Out' b/w 'Interlude #2' (United Artists catalog number UA-XW621-X)  # 91 pop

2.) Interlude #2   (Bobby Womack) - 3:49    rating: ** stars

A continuation of the opening tune, 'Interlude #2' surrounded Womack with shrill female background singers (Bobby's Babies) and three minutes of him vamping the title over and over.

3.) Jealous Love   (Cecile Womack - Bobby Womack) - 5:47   rating: **** stars

'Jealous Love' could have been a five star performance.  A pounding slice of funk showcasing Womack at his best, it had everything going for it.  And then out of the blue, at the three minute mark preachy Bobby Womack decided he needed to slap some spoken word insights on top of the mix and the wheels came off the song.

4.) It's All Over Now   (Bobby Womack) - 2:52

Womack's remake of The Valentino's 'It's All Over' was a full out collaboration with Bill Withers.   One of the most rock oriented things Womack ever recorded, it should have been a massive hit for the pair.  

- 1975's 'It's All Over Now' b/w 'Git It'   (United Artists catalog number UA-XW674-Y)

5.) Yes, Jesus Loves Me   (arranged by Bobby Womack - Roger Dollarhide) - 4:19   rating: ** stars

Not to question the man's faith, but musically 'Yes, Jesus Loves me' was a bland slice of Gospel testifying ...  

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Roads of Life

Company: Arista

Catalog: MCA 42097
Year:
 1979

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: original inner sleeve

Available: 1 

Catalog ID: 2364

Price:  $25.00

 

Ouch, while I'd love to say some nice things about 1979's "Roads of Life" ... um, geez, wow ... well, that's going to take some effort.  Anyway you approached it, this set was pretty deplorable.   I'm guessing that keyboardist Patrick Moten was brought in to give the project a cutting edge club sound.  If so, he failed miserably.   Womack sounded tired, unenthusiastic, and on a couple of tracks his voice sounded shot.  The result was a simply horrible collection with little musical direction and even less to get excited about.  In fact, out of the eight songs, only two were worth hearing more than once - 'How Could You Break My Heart?' (which Arista released as a single) and 'Give It Up'.   The album's long out of print, but I wouldn't spend  a lot of time or effort to track down a copy.

 

"Roads of Life" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) The Roads of Life   (Bobby Womack - Cecil Womack) - 5:28    rating: ** stars

Opening with some uninspired vocoder (where's Joe Walsh when you need him), 'The Roads of Life' was an anonymous, slightly disco-tinged number.  Womack's usually sterling voice sounded pinched and nasal and the overall effect was one of the dullest things he's ever recorded.  Geez, this one was simply terrible.

2.) How Could You Break My Heart?   (Bobby Womack - Patrick Moten) - 5:17     rating: *** stars

Well, the opening spoken word dialog was dreadful and stereotyped, but at least it was brief and thankfully when 'How Could You Break My Heart?' kicked into gear, it wasn't a half bad slice of adult contemporary lite-rock.  Womack actually sounded pretty good on this smooth mid-tempo number showing off some nice jazzy guitar moves towards the end of the track.  It wasn't a particularly distinguished number, but surrounded by the rest of the album, actually sounded okay.  That's probably why Arista tapped it as a single:

- 1979's 'How Could You Break My Heart - without rap' b/w I Honestly Love You'' (Arista catalog number AS 0421)   

3.) Honey Dripper Boogie   (Bobby Womack) - 4:51    rating: ** stars

'Honey Dripper Boogie' found Womack diving into third rate, routine funk.   Thoroughly pedestrian and the sax solo didn't do anything to save the track.    

 

(side 2)
1.) The Roots In Me     (Bobby Womack - Leon Ware) - 4:49 
  rating: ** stars

'The Roots In Me' was a big, bland, and forgettable ballad ... other than that I can't remember anything about it.   

2.) What Are You Doin'   (Bobby Womack - Cecil Womack) -  4:29     rating: ** stars

And just when you thought it couldn't get much worse, along came 'What Are You Doin''.   Yeah, the song had a bouncy, up-tempo melody, but Womack's voice seems to have completely abandoned him this time around and surrounded himself with shrill, irritating female backing singers and one of the sorriest synthesizer solos you've ever heard, did nothing to hide that fact.   Horrible, horrible ...  

3.) Give It Up   (Bobby Womack - Cecil Womack) -  4:39     rating: *** stars

One of four tracks co-written with brother Cecil Womack, 'Give It Up'  was a breath of fresh air.  Nice melody; okay orchesteral arrangement, great bass pattern, and Womack's voice sounded in fine form.   This one could have been a radio hit.

4.) Mr. D.J. Don't Stop the Music    (Bobby Womack) - 5:17    rating: ** stars

In case you couldn't figure it out, the title was a pretty good indication of what to expect - and the 'party' sounds didn't exactly save 'Mr. D.J. Don't Stop the Music' from the also-ran pile.  Another bland, forgettable, and seemingly endless dance number ... the best thing here was the short electric lead guitar solo.  

5.) I Honestly Love You    (Peter Allen - Jeff Barry) - 3:50    rating: ** stars

As much as I've always hated Olivia Newton-John's cover of 'I Honestly Love You', Womack's indulgent and over-sung version was even worse.   Total yech ...   

 

 

 

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Womagic

Company: MCA

Catalog: MCA 5899
Year:
 1986

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small promo stamp back cover

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 227

Price: $15.00

 

Although he's had occasional brushes with breakout success, for the most part Bobby Whitlock remains an undiscovered treasure.   Unfortunately, 1986's "Womagic" didn't do anything to broaden his popularity.  Co-produced by Whitlock and Chips Moman (whom he'd been working with on and off since the mid-1960s), was a surprisingly engaging collection - even more so when you consider that Womack was battling a major cocaine addiction issue at this point in his life.  Vocally Womack sounded wonderful throughout and there were occasional flashes of his frequently overlooked talents as a guitarist.  Mind you, the set was far from perfect.  Womack's songwriting skills were in short supply; he was credited with co-writing three of the nine tracks and with the possible exception of 'When the Weekend Comes', those original efforts weren't album highlights.  The other major problem with the album was that like many mid-'80s soul albums, the collection suffered from an over-abundance of big ballads.  This time out a staggering five of the nine tracks were ballads.  Moman would have served Womack far better by presenting a more diverse collection of material.

 

- As mentioned, I've always loved Womack's gruff voice and even though '(I Wanna) Make Love To You' surrounded him with a somewhat AOR-ish arrangement, it ultimately didn't matter all that much.  Built on an almost hypnotic title track riff, the song was made even better by Womack's blazing guitar - easy to forget what a gifted guitarist the man was.  MCA rightfully tapped this one as the lead-off single.   rating: **** stars

-The stomping  'When the Weekend Comes' sounded like Norman Whitfield-era Temptations with the addition of some glorious Spanish flamenco-styled guitar.  Yeah the lyrics were trite (though I agree with the anti-tax commentary), but it was another album highlight.    rating: **** stars

- For some reason, the smooth, adult contemporary-meets-funk number 'The Things We Do (When We're Lonely)' has always reminded me of a Steely Dan effort.   And that should tell you whether you're going to like the tune or not.   I'm a gigantic Dan fan so I liked this one a great deal.   rating: **** stars

- A big, old-school ballad, 'I Can't Stay Mad' wasn't the album's most original offering and actually took a couple of spins to reveal its charms which included a beautiful Womack vocal and a killer chorus that you'll find yourself humming.   rating: *** stars

- 'Can'tcha Head the Children Calling' started out as a ponderous, big-statement ballad and then unexpected shifted gears into a catchy up-tempo number.  Yeah, the lyrics were sentimental dribble, but you still found yourself humming along to the tune.  It would have been even better with more Womack and less of the anonymous chirping female backing singers.   rating: **** stars

- The album's first major disappointment, the plodding 'Outside Myself' sounded like a Lionel Ritchie outtake.  To my ears Womack literally sounded like he was channeling Ritchie.  Nothing more to say here.   rating: * star

- It was another big ballad, but 'I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else' at least had an interesting '60s soul tinged melody and a catchy chorus.   rating: *** stars

- With it's sax and electric piano opening, 'More Than Love' started out with a very adult contemporary light jazz feel and sadly the song could never escape that weight.   rating: ** stars

- Surrounded by gurgling synthesizers, ' It Ain't Me' sounded like Womack was trying to pull a page out of the Prince book of hits.  Mildly interesting, particularly when Womack's voice briefly managed to beat down the synthesizers, but ultimately not the right sound for Womack.   rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned above, the album was tapped for a single that saw both 7" and 12" dance remix releases:

- 1986's '(I Wanna) Make Love To You' b/w Whatever Happened To The Times?' (MCA catalog number MCA-52955)  # 57 R&B

- 1986's '(I Wanna) Make Love To You' b/w 'Whatever Happened To The Times?' (MCA catalog number MCA-23688)

 

Sadly, commercially the album didn't do a great deal; missing the pop charts and peaking at # 68 on the R&B charts.

 

"Womagic" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) (I Wanna) Make Love To You   (J.L. Williams) - 4:22

2.) When the Weekend Comes   (Bobby Womack - Harold Payne) - 5:33 

3.) The Things We Do (When We're Lonely)   (Tom Snow - Dean Pitchford) - 3:51

4.) I Can't Stay Mad    (Bobby Womack - Harold Payne) - 4:31

 

(side 2)
1.) Can'tcha Head the Children Calling    (Bobby Womack - Harold Payne) - 4:34

2.) Outside Myself   (George Michael. Ellan - Richard Ash - Barbara Rothstein) - 3:20

3.) I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else   (C. Moore - L. Jones - R. Wrightsil) - 3:20

4.) More Than Love   (B. Wood - R. Cooke - C. Wood) - 3:25

5.) It Ain't Me   (M. Hodges - D. Kyles) 4:45

 

 

 



Genre: soul

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  The Last Soul Man

Company: MCA

Catalog: MCA 42097
Year:
 1987

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: small promo stamp back cover

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD

Price: SOLD $15.00

 

Epitomized by a cover photo that showed Bobby Womack wandering though a desert scene, 1987's "The Last Soul Man" marked a continuation of his search for musical direction.  Co-produced by Womack and Frank Hamilton III, you were left to wonder how a guy who'd managed to record and release a string of stunning mid-'70s albums, had gotten so off track.  To his credit, Womack was a consummate professional, and even at his worst, there was something worth hearing.  The problem was those pockets of excellence were far and few, lost amongst a hodgepodge of '80s new wave efforts ('Living In a Box' and 'Real Love Please Stand Up'), formulaic adult contemporary ballads (''I Still Love You' and 'Outside Myself'), and other musical flotsam and jetsam.  His voice still remained an instantly recognizable treasure, but with the exception of 'Gina', 'Falling In Love Again' and a remake of ''When the Weekend Comes'' (with a painful guest appearance from Sly Stone), those talents were largely wasted this time around.

 

- Like Living In a Box's original song (Womack worked with the band on their debut LP),, this version of 'Living In a Box' was full of new wave angst and jittery synthesizers.  I remember hearing Womack's version and finding it hard to believe he was actually covering the tune.  I can't say it was the perfect genre for Womack who himself seemed a little uncomfortable with the genre, but it was certainly arresting.  MCA also tapped it as a single.   rating: *** stars

- 'When the Weekend Comes' originally appeared on Womack's previous album (1986's "Womagic") and this time around the remake gets a funked-up synthesizer rich arrangement notable for a guest appearance by Sly Stone who's vocals sound hoarse, muddy, and slurred.  Kudos to Womack for trying to give longtime friend Sly a hand.   rating: *** stars

- 'I Still Love You' was a commercial, but rather soulless offering that would have benefited by dropping the syn-drums, adult contemporary sax break, and chirpy female backing vocals.   rating: ** stars

- Capturing Womack's voice at it's grittiest, the R&B-flavored ballad 'Gina' was easily one of the album's highlights.   Again, stripping off the heavy orchestration and sax solo would have made it even better.    rating: *** stars

- The album's first disappointment, 'A World Where No One Cries' sounded like a slice of Ray Charles-styled supper-club soul.  Maybe that was intentional ?   Nice lyrics.  Regardless, it didn't do anything for me.    rating: ** stars

- 'A Woman Likes To Hear That' was a strange mash-up of old school soul and new wave synthesizer washes.  Ever wondered what Sam Cooke would have sounded like if he were still performing in the mid-'80s?  Probably not, but if you ever did, check this tune out.   rating: *** stars

- Swathed in hideous '80s production, 'Real Love Please Stand Up' may have been one of Womack's creative nadirs.  Surrounded by a nasty mix of synthesizers, syn-drums, lite-jazz sax, and bleating female backing singers, the results were shrill and irritating.  A big yech !   rating: * star

- 'The Things We Do (When We're Lonely)' was a nice enough neo-soul tune, but to my ears it sounded like the British band Living In the Box trying to do a soul tune ...  In this case I think Richard Darbyshire (Living In a Box's lead singer),  might have done a better job with the song.   How twisted was that?      rating: ** stars

- A big, old-school ballad with a pretty melody and some nice Womack lead guitar,  'Falling In Love Again' marked a return to good form.   rating: *** stars

- 'Outside Myself' was another big ballad, but In contrast to 'Falling In Love', this one sounded like a Lionel Ritchie effort - commercial, but way over the top and not very enjoyable to my ears.   rating: ** stars

 

The album spun off one single:

 

- 1987's 'Living in a Box' b/w 'Canít Stay Mad' (MCA catalog number 53190)

 

Not the place for anyone to start their exploration of Womack's catalog ...

 

"The Last Soul Man" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Living In a Box   (Marcus Vere - Steve Piggit) - 4:45

2.) When the Weekend Comes   (Bobby Womack - Harold Payne) - 4:15

3.) I Still Love You   (Bobby Womack) - 4:42

4.) Gina   (Bobby Womack) - 5:05

5.) A World Where No One Cries      (Bobby Womack - Harold Payne) - 4:45

 

(side 2)
1.) A Woman Likes To Hear That   (Bobby Womack - Harold Payne) - 4:27

2.) Real Love Please Stand Up   (Erma Shaw - Lawrence Morris) - 3:44

3.) The Things We Do (When We're Lonely)   ( Tom Snow - Dean Pitchford) - 4:25

4.) Falling In Love Again   (Bobby Womack - Dan Christian) - 4:22

5.) Outside Myself   (George Michael Ellan - Richard Ash - Barbara Rothstein) - 4:19

 

 


Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Forever Love

Company: MCA

Catalog: CONT 12-12401
Year:
 1996

Country/State: Cleveland, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: 12" single

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 233

Price: SOLD $10.00

 

 

Yeah, I bought this one thinking it was a standard LP; not realizing it was a 12" single.  Shame on me for not paying more attention (though in my defense, the seller had it in a stack of LPs).

 

Pulled from the 1996 LP "Resurrection", musically these four tracks weren't half bad, with Bobby Womack having settled into a smooth, if somewhat anonymous style of soul-meets-adult contemporary lite jazz.  ON 'Forever Love' all of the ingredients were there for radio exposure; Womack's gritty voice, a nice rollicking melody, a sax solo (courtesy of Scott Mayo) ...  Not bad, though whether you need to hear the vocal and instrumental versions of the track is up to you.  Womack dedicated the song to the late Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin.   For anyone interested, YouTube has the accompanying video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBKCj2FtJOU  check out the segment around 3:16 showing Woamck walking down the street with a slightly bemused punk girl.

 

- 'Forever Love' vocal  rating: *** stars

- 'Forever Love' instrumental rating: *** stars

 

Giving credit where due, Womack turned in a nice cover of 'Color Him Father', but it won't make you forget the Richard Spencer and The Winstons original.   Again presented in vocal and extended instrumental formats, the instrumental variant is actually quiet cool - highlighting a weird little loop that sounded like a baby saying 'hi' with a phone ring  ...  yeah, you'll have to hear the track

 

- 'Color Him Love' vocal rating: **** stars

- 'Color Him Love' instrumental rating: *** stars

 

"The Last Soul Man" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lover Forever  (Frank Hamliton III - E. Munte - E. Shofron) - 4:38

2.) Love Forever (instrumental) - 4:37

 

(side 2)
1.) Color Him Father   (Richard. Spencer) - 4:30

2.) Color Him Father (instrumental)    (Richard Spencer) - 5:20

 

 

 


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