Monday, June 01, 2015

Bobby Womack, The Preacher, boxed set review: 'superb'

From the site:

But the hits that Womack wrote for Pickett, notably ‘I’m A Midnight Mover’ and the gorgeous ‘I’m In Love’ were recorded at another Memphis studio, American Sound, which had been founded by Chips Moman, who had originally been a producer at...Stax.

It was at American, with Moman producing, that Womack recorded his first solo album, Fly Me To The Moon, in 1968. This superb five album box-set charts the development of Womack’s career, from that debut, to his 1972 album Understanding, which gave him his first US R&B number one, Woman’s Gotta Have It. Fly Me To The Moon includes Womack’s readings of those two Pickett hits, and handful of other original compositions, not least the grittily testifying Someone Special. But it also marks the beginning of Womack’s proclivity for recording cover versions of established standards and pop hits

Whether this was because, as has been suggested, he had given most of his own songs to Pickett; his record company saw it as a commercial proposition or, most likely, because Womack himself was always interested in exploring as wide a range of material as possible (he once recorded a country and western album) is a moot point. The outcome was Womack tackling a wide range of covers over the next four years, from the sublime - his gently propulsive reading of California Dreamin’ - to the frankly bizarre: Jonathan King’s Everyone’s Gone To The Moon. Perhaps the most arresting of all is a nine minute version of Bacharach and David’s Close To You, on his third album, Communication, which begins with a surreal, sermonising rap about his arguments with his record company moving on to an absolutely gorgeous reading in which Womack strips every fibre of faux-sentimentality from the song, refashioning it as a impassioned plea for togetherness.