On Friday, February 22, 2013, Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby Womack will perform live at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. Joined on stage by his full band, including horn section and backup singers, Cleveland native Womack promises a setlist brimming with fiery classics from his storied recording career, as well as cuts from his 2012 release, The Bravest Man in the Universe.
In advance of Womack's concert and interview in the Museum's Foster Theater, the Rock Hall looks at six brilliant Womack songs covering the period of 1964 to 2012.
The Valentinos – “It’s All Over Now”
Bobby Womack sings lead on this 1964 song he wrote with Shirley Womack, and recorded with his brothers Friendly, Jr., Curtis, Harry and Cecil. Within a month of its release, the Rolling Stones had their first Number One hit in the UK with a cover of this song. Womack continued to make the song his own in later years as a solo artist.
Bobby Womack – “That’s the Way I Feel About ‘Cha” from Communication (1971)
This song was Womack’s first crossover hit, charting at Number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Number Two on the R&B charts. The song established him as a solo artist. Womack's backing band on Communication was the legendary Muscle Shoals band, featuring drummer Roger Hawkins, guitarist Jimmy Johnson, bassist David Hood and keyboardist Barry Beckett, who provided the slow, steady groove for this and other cuts.
Bobby Womack – “Woman’s Gotta Have It” from Understanding (1972)
Recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis, this soulful classic was written by Womack, Darryl Carter and Linda Womack (the daughter of Sam Cooke, and Womack’s step-daughter). While the song features a backing band and a beautiful string arrangement, it is Womack’s voice that rises to the top.
Bobby Womack – “Across 110th Street” from Across 110th Street Soundtrack (1973)
Womack wrote and performed the songs for the 1972 crime drama Across 110th Street, directed by Barry Shear. In his autobiography, Midnight Mover, Womack wrote: “It was called 'Across 110th Street,' like in New York. Cross that street, and you’re in Harlem, the ghetto, not far from the Apollo where the Valentinos played with James Brown. Perfect: That was my territory. I had come from a ghetto, so it was something I knew about. I knew all its stories.”
Bobby Womack – “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” from The Poet (1981)
A standout track from his 1981 album The Poet, this song combines Womack’s impassioned delivery with a jazz-influenced R&B sound. As the song nears the end, the repeated chorus music and backing vocals dip lower in the mix, further projecting Womack's signature, emotive dialogues with the listener, only to ramp back up for the stirring finale.
Gorillaz (feat. Bobby Womack and Mos Def) – “Stylo” from Plastic Beach (2010)
In 2009, Gorillaz co-founder and musical mastermind Damon Albarn (also of Blur fame) connected with Womack to record "Stylo" for the group's third studio album. It was reported that Womack's daughter encouraged him to record with the band, despite him having never heard their music. Released as the first single, "Stylo" featured Womack's unmistakable, throaty vocals, giving the song a powerful lift. It also introduced Womack to an entirely new audience after a long absence from recording.
Bobby Womack – “Please Forgive My Heart” from The Bravest Man in the Universe (2012)
In 2012, Womack – reunited with Albarn and having signed with Richard Russell's XL imprint – released his first album in more than a decade. Although the album updated his sound with electronics and break beats, the mostly minimalist arrangements proved an ideal foil for Womack’s rough,weathered voice.