Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fast, Funky and Fabulous!

Bobby Womack - Lillie Mae

Soul legend Bobby Womack got his start in show biz when Sam Cooke took an interest in the erstwhile gospel group The Womack Brothers, whom he signed to his SAR label. Despite some pretty good gospel sides, Sam and the group decided to take on secular music (to the Womacks' father's chagrin) and, as The Valentinos, yielded dividends right away with the hit "Lookin' For a Love." Bobby was particularly close to Cooke, perhaps too close: when Sam was killed in 1964, Bobby promptly married Sam's widow, Barbara, to the horror of Sam's family, Sam's fans, and R&B disc jockeys. Womack would soon start his solo career, but the fallout from his marriage to his mentor's widow was such that R&B DJs rejected his initial recordings; Womack has interviewed that the DJs were throwing his records in the garbage! The rehabilitation of his career came as a session musician in Memphis and as a songwriter for Wilson Pickett, who took "I Found a True Love," "I'm in Love" and other songs to the top of the charts. The successes Womack had with Pickett gave him momentum to sign to Liberty Records' Minit label and have some of his first solo hits as the '60s came to a close. By the early '70s Womack had major hits for United Artists and continued his hitmaking ways into the early '80s, when "If You Think You're Lonely Now" gave him his final smash hit.

Today's selection was a 1969 Minit single which also appeared on his Fly Me To The Moon LP. "Lillie Mae" is a quick (1:57) and dirty piece of funk that sounds like it was recorded in Memphis at the American studios. The guitar lines crackle with energy, the horns hit hard where they are supposed to, and Womack channels Wilson Pickett in his singing. It's a fun record, and to quote John R, the only thing wrong with it is that it's too short!

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