As Sony Award-winning DJ Pete Mitchell talks to Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn about Bobby's career and critically acclaimed comeback (Bravest Man in the Universe: the Bobby Womack Story, 6pm Sunday Absolute Radio 60s), he picks out five defining Womack tracks.
Across 110th Street
From the soundtrack of the 1973 crime drama film of the same name starring Anthony Quinn, this gritty, heartfelt song about everyday life in the ghetto was written and completed at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in just two weeks, which is remarkable. From the era of the “blaxploitation” movie, it followed in the footsteps of Shaft, Trouble Man and Superfly, and matches them for dramatic and cinematic quality. Accompanied by searing orchestration by JJ Johnson with hard-hitting lyrics and music by Womack that truly reflect the drug-infested poverty-stricken streets of Harlem, you can tell Bobby has lived this life.
The Bravest Man in the Universe
The title track from his 2012 comeback album after quitting the music business in 1994 through debt and drug addiction. After the persistence of Damon Albarn, who managed to coax Bobby out of retirement to work on his 2010 Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach, he returned to work on his first solo album in 20 years. Produced by Damon and XL Records boss Richard Russell, his new work has been described as one of the greatest comeback albums of all time. The track had been written by Bobby for Isaac Hayes and the Memphis Horns but was never completed and lay dormant for decades until Damon heard the song prior to recording the album. At Albarn’s insistence, it became the title track. A killer comeback.
Hear Pete talking to Damon Albarn about persuading Bobby to come out of retirement