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The Essential Bobby Womack: The Last Great Soul Man

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Album Review

Although this British double CD does include a lot of music (35 tracks), and a lot of the best music Bobby Womack made between the late '60s and mid-'80s, it doesn't score the highest marks for packaging. Original release dates aren't given for all of the tracks, the non-chronological sequencing seems random, and not all of the songs seem to be the best that could have been selected. Also, while this has a larger chronological span than some other Womack best-ofs, that isn't necessarily a plus, unless you put his 1980s work on par with his earlier stuff. For those who strongly prefer his pre-1980 output, the 1993 two-CD set Midnight Mover: The Bobby Womack Collection is much more strongly recommended, as it not only focuses wholly on 1968-1976 recordings, but also actually includes more tracks (44) than this release does. Still, The Essential Bobby Womack does have many of the songs any of his fans would consider vital for inclusion on such a compilation, such as "Lookin' for a Love," "Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out," "Across 110th Street," and "I'm a Midnight Mover" (and, for British listeners, his cover of "California Dreaming," popularized by a 2004 television ad in the U.K.). It's diluted, however, by the presence of slicker, less forceful material from later in his career.

Biography

Born: 04 March 1944 in Cleveland, OH

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A veteran who paid his dues for over a decade before getting his shot at solo stardom, Bobby Womack persevered through tragedy and addiction to emerge as one of soul music's great survivors. Able to shine in the spotlight as a singer or behind the scenes as an instrumentalist and songwriter, Womack never got his due from pop audiences, but during the late '60s and much of the '70s, he was a consistent hitmaker on the R&B charts, with a high standard of quality control. His records were quintessential...
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