Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bobby Womack - Woman's Gotta Have It (United Artists 50902)

Woman's Gotta Have It

In my opinion, this is one of the best records ever made. Released in April of 1972, It was Bobby Womack's first number one hit, and the last truly great recording cut at American Sound in Memphis.

In a recent episode of Unsung, the TV One documentary series, they spend a lot of time talking about the single released immediately prior to this one (which only made it to #2) That's The Way I Feel About Cha, and basically completely ignore the significance of this remarkable 45. As a matter of fact, they don't mention Darryl Carter's name at all, which seems like an incredible oversight to me. They were quite a team, and Bobby wrote some of his best songs with him. The way Darryl tells it, he and Bobby had written this tune with Jackie Wilson in mind a few years earlier and, when work on his upcoming Understanding LP kind of stalled creatively down in Muscle Shoals, Bobby came back to Memphis to record it. Neither of them had been inside American since 1968, but they knew that's where they had to go. Chips told them he wouldn't mind if Darryl came in and worked the board, "as long as everyone got paid." In a marathon 48 hour session with old friends The Memphis Boys, they cut this masterpiece, along with three other tracks for the album. Darryl said they put on the strings, and Bobby's second vocal track, with Stan Kesler (presumably at Sounds of Memphis). When they brought the finished master to United Artists, they wanted to cut Bobby's introductory monologue, but he adamantly refused... he was right, of course.

It is Darryl Carter who is the one who is truly unsung as, once again, his rightful place in all of this has been summarily ignored. Please visit us over on The B Side, where we'll attempt to straighten all that out. Thanks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Etta James - Don't Cry, Baby (Argo 5393)

Don't Cry Baby

It's funny how these things happen. I've been kind of ripping the house apart looking for Etta James 45s. I knew I had a couple more somewhere, and I really wanted to get one up here on The A Side. When I found Sunday Kind Of Love, I was kind of let down, because it's been seriously overplayed, probably second only to At Last. Not that there's anything wrong with that but hey, you know what I mean.
Anyway, I soon found out that this jazzy little R&B scorcher we have here was actually the plug side, climbing to #6 R&B in the Summer of 1961. It felt like some kind of message, and I truly believe it was. Etta James leaves behind an untouchable legacy that laid the groundwork for generations of women to follow. She literally invented  the kind of 'female swagger' that has enlivened the work of everyone from Aretha to Nicki Minaj. As Betty Lavette said over the weekend: "She was the bridge I came across on."

She died in her son Donto's arms... "I told her that I loved her. I said 'You were a wonderful mother, you did a wonderful job, your seven grandchildren love you, and they will be OK.' For sure, the world lost a legend today. I am very proud of her, and very thankful."

The world is a much better place because she lived in it. Don't Cry.