I'm feeling fortunate today and a little sorry for those in Sydney who were eagerly awaiting Bobby Womack's live performance last night at the Sydney Opera House only for it to be cancelled due to Bobby's health problems.
I can say that his performance on Tuesday night was outstanding, it was one of the best concerts that I've seen, never mind the fact that he was on stage for barely an hour, he barely let up from the moment he came on. There was no endless filler or stage antics it was wall to wall classic Womack. From the opening strains of his classic Across 110th Street I knew I was in for something special, his voice still has that growl and that deep expressiveness. His classic Harry Hippie was an ode to his brother and has a classic southern soul feel to it. No one sings of the vagaries of love and life like Bobby Womack there is so much of his own soul invested in his music it lifts it to another place. He was helped by a cracking 13 piece band who added great funk and power to songs like I Can Understand, Nobody Understands You When You're Down and Out from his 1973 album Across 110th Street. That album deserves to sit alongside Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Curtis Mayfield's Superfly as an album that openly declares the desperation felt by many in America in the early 70's.
Bobby found a home in the late 60's at American studio's in Memphis where he worked regularly with Wilson Pickett writing songs like I'm In Love, Midnight Mover. He can also be heard on Joe Tex's Skinny Legs and also contributed to Janis Joplin's Pearl album. It was from his time at American that he recorded the classic Woman's Gotta Have It and That's The Way I Feel About Cha, he gave memorable renditions of these songs on Tuesday night. He also didn't let me down with his classic Lookin For A Love which he originally cut as a member of The Valentino's in the early 60's. Womack had spent time in the early 60's recording for Sam Cooke's SAR label. Lookin For A Love had the crowd up on it's feet, and his band really gave it some drive.