Bobby Womack - 'Bravest Man In The Universe'
- The Bravest Man In The Universe
- Please Forgive My Heart
- Deep River
- Dayglo Reflection (ft. Lana Del Rey)
- Whatever Happened To The Times
- Stupid Introlude (Ft. Gil Scott-Heron)
- If There Wasn't Something There
- Love Is Gonna Lift You Up
- Nothin' Can Save Ya (Ft. Fatoumata Diawara)
- Jubilee (Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around)
Times change. These days, the key reason Bobby Womack has difficulty crossing 110th street is that he's a 68-year-old former drug addict in less-than-sparkling health.
Though, it's never exactly been blessed with easy crossings.
Look at that. Six lanes of heavy traffic. Poor signage. No wonder Bobby had to call it out on behalf of social mobility.And this is Richard Russell.
Captured at the exact moment somebody stole his turntables. He may look like some sort of superannuated student only seconds from #banter and a cheeky sex assault, but Richard Russell is actually richer than God, because he owns Adele, Florence, and Vampire Weekend. He makin' Ay-rab money.
But more money, more problems, as RR would no doubt tell you. Bursting with millionaire's ennui, he has hit on a new hobby. Some people renovate old Chevrolets and Lotuses. Richard Russell casts a fixer-upper's eye over old music legends who've fallen on hard times. And when you think about it, aren't there an awful lot of those to go 'round?
Two years ago, he produced Gill Scott-Heron's first album in 16 years, I'm New Here. It was slightly dull but oh-so-classy. Hey—critics love slightly-dull-but-classy. They went nuts.
Unfortunately, GSH shuffled off to the great crack den in the sky last year. So, Richard turned his attention to a new model: Bobby. Once Sam Cooke's protege. Substance issues in the 80s. Not released a record since 1994. Last seen being partially-excavated by Damon Albarn for Gorillaz's "Stylo." A good buy. Shopworn, but underneath, pure pedigree. Together, Damon and Richard set about giving him the full Rick Rubin.
So did they succeed? Is this, as has been hinted (not least by its author), Bobby Womack's MASTERPIECE? Not quite. It's more of a low-slung, woozy-digital cave-crawl, very much along the lines of Gill's. Or, if you prefer: it's like half of a Massive Attack record with Horace Andy swapped-out for another old soul old-soul, occasionally enlivened by Gorillaz-ish beats from Damo, as on the chirpy "Stylo" knock-off, "Stupid." It is oh-so-classy. But perhaps tiny bit dull.
Their tactic seems to have been to give Bobby the space to be Bobby. He remains such a force of nature that when he opens his record by a capella bawling the line: “The bravest man in the universe is the one who has forgiven first,” it has the moral authority of Moses reading a twelfth commandment. This guy is so good at sounding courageous he could sing “You gotta dance like no one's watching” and it would sound like Nelson Mandela in the dock at the Rivonia Trial.Oh yeah... She turns up:
Smouldering like the proverbial gangsta Nancy Sinatra all over "Dayglo Reflections," an act so transgressive, it's like watching a Charlie Chaplin film where Adam Sandler walks into frame. And given that it is a sexy-smouldering duet, it also invokes unfortunate images of Bobby and Lizzy doing the tutti-frutti. Still, given what a gift from the gods a new Womack record is, you can't begrudge him a little age-inappropriate intercourse. Go on, Bobby. You've earned it, son.