Thursday, 23 August 2018

Bobby Womack - The Poet II (1984)

Released in 1984

This is, in places, a truly sumptuous soul album. But not in all. It was the follow up to "The Poet", which was also good, but personally I prefer this one. However, listening to it again after many years, I find it a bit bogged down in eighties instrumentation, and it is not quite as good as I remember it. Womack's voice, nevertheless, is always excellent and evocative, no doubt about that.

The first two tracks, the gorgeous, uplifting "Love Has Finally Come At Last" and the even better "It Takes A Lot Of Strength To Say Goodbye", featuring Patti LaBelle on shared vocals are just sensational. Just listen to Patti's superb high vocals on both tracks and the way she and Bobby interact, vocally, is just wonderful. Sublime. Two of my favourite soul cuts of all time. Check out the intro to the latter track - Patti's high vocal then Bobby's mellow, sweet soul deeper voice. Then Patti's verse kicks in - soul heaven. She takes it there. Patti also features on the next track, "Through The Eyes Of A Child", which features more excellent vocals together with a great saxophone bit at the end.

Thereafter, the quality struggles to keep up a little bit, with some more dance-orientated tracks as opposed to emotional, uplifting soul. Having said that, the rhythmic, melodic "Surprise, Surprise" is an appealing, if light, soul number. The dramatic, punchy "Tryin' To Get Over You" is a great track, with a vibrant singalong refrain and some seriously inspiring vocals from Womack. He does that spoken "preacher" bit at the end too, when he slows down the beat and addresses the listener as if from the pulpit. Great stuff. "Tell Me Why" has a catchy chorus too. Some of the backing is a bit eighties, in that it uses a fair bit of synthesiser, however. It could do without it, to be honest, drums, funky guitar and bass would suffice.

"Who's Foolin' Who" is overwhelmed by eighties instrumentation. "I Wish I Had Someone To Go Home To" is a good one, though, with a yearning, heartfelt vocal and some impressive rock guitar parts. "American Dream" opens by sampling Dr. Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech and it continues to be a laid-back, sweet piece of soul. A fine way to end an album which definitely has its very good points but I have to admit has dated a little.


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