Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe
'The Bravest Man In The Universe' is Bobby Womack's first album in twelve years. But he doesn't see it that way. A man whose talent as a singer, guitarist and composer is matched only by his self-lacerating honesty, Womack dismisses three long-players he made at the turn of the millennium and sees his first album for XL Recordings as the first, real Bobby Womack album since 1994's 'Resurrection'. You see, for those three lost albums and his few live performances around that time, Bobby Womack wasn't really there at all.
"There was a Christmas album in 2000," he recalls, dismissively, in a voice so dirty and cracked that it's almost as musical as his singing voice. "But to be honest, I haven't released an album in 18 years. I had given up on music. I didn't have the desire that you have to have. I assumed that I'd stayed in the business too long... like an old fighter."
Thankfully, Damon Albarn had other ideas. When he had the brainwave of tracking 'The Last Soul Man' down and asking him to collaborate with Mos Def on 'Stylo', one of the finest tracks on the 2010 Gorillaz album 'Plastic Beach', he had got his timing just right. Womack had been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009, and had finally emerged from the long, painful aftermath of his addictions to cocaine and alcohol. The 'Stylo' collaboration went so well that Womack also worked with Damon on 'Cloud Of Unknowing' for Plastic Beach and later on 'Bobby In Phoenix' which was released on the low-key Gorillaz travelogue album 'The Fall' in December 2010. It was the beginning of a friendship, solidified by the 50 dates they spent touring together around the world in support of 'Plastic Beach' and one fruitful enough to persuade Bobby Womack to get fully back into the ring, and come out fighting.
Says Damon, "It's heaven to be able to listen to Bobby Womack sing. He hadn't really been in the studio or performed for about 15 years and I think he thought he wasn't going to bother again. But his fire has come back – and that's a treat for everybody because the world with Bobby Womack in it is a richer place."
'The Bravest Man In The Universe' is co-produced by Damon Albarn and XL Recordings' Richard Russell. It was recorded in three main sessions between October and December 2011; two were in Damon's Studio 13 in West London, and the other was in New York's Manhattan Center, which is situated above the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom, with a few extra sessions at the XL Studio and Richard's own home studio in London. All ten tracks are co-written by the three plus Bobby's longtime songwriting partner Harold Payne, except for radically rearranged spirituals 'Deep River' and 'Jubilee (Don't Let Nobody Turn You Around)'. There are striking vocal guest spots from Lana Del Ray on 'Dayglo Refelection' and Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara on 'Nothin' Can Save You'.
It is, in essence, an electronic secular gospel album. But boiling it down to those basics doesn't convey the album's power, nor get close to expressing the sheer joy of hearing one of soul's greatest singers reaching for Heaven – and Hell - again, a sound Womack fans had never expected to hear aside from getting out battered copies of 'Communication', or the 'Across 110th Street' soundtrack, or 'The Poet II'.
Release Date : 02 Jul 2012