When the legendary Bobby Womack passed away last Friday at the age of 70 he left behind a long and storied legacy. His career stretched across five decades and in that span he compiled a discography that is deserving of its own zip code.
Bobby Womack’s vocal cords were dipped in pure gold. It was this unusual amalgam of Midwest grit, West Coast groove, and Southern – to the roots – soul. His earliest and one of his most commercially successful albums, Communication, combined all those elements and launched him into the ’70s as a full on star.
“Close to You” is a definitive cut, hearing him calmly spit game over a simple guitar riff is reminiscent of some classic Otis Redding. The space allows the raspyness in his voice to stretch with little restraint. Butter would melt to the sound of his voice: [LISTEN]
On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So, they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold
And star-light in your eyes of blue
Womack glided through the ’70s adjusting to the times adding touches of sophistication here and there yet still remained wickedly funky at his core. He played alongside numerous legends like Wah Wah Watson, Dorothy Ashby, David T. Walker, Gabor Szabo – the list goes on.
After a long layoff Bobby returned with The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL Recordings) co-produced by Damon Albarn of the Gorillaz. And while he wasn’t in his prime the mixing and production frames his vocals in such a way that you feel every thump of Bobby’s heart. Hearing him anguish over a minimal beat like he does in “Please Forgive My Heart” is bone chilling: [LISTEN]
The dawn is a silent witness
To the blindness of the night
And we see our reflection so clear
In the blush of morning light
Womack was working ’til the very end. He was slated to release another album The Best is Yet To Come which was rumored to feature legends like Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Snoop Dogg. Whether or not that’ll ever see the light of day is uncertain. But in the meantime there’s plenty of music – over 50 years worth – to get to know and appreciate the greatness that is Bobby Womack.