Bobby Womack: Everything’s Gonna Be Alright – The American Singles 1967 – ’76
In 1848, James W. Marshall was working at Sutter’s Mill in California when he found gold. The events that ensued were so significant they named a football team after it. That’s how I felt listening to Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. For fans of Bobby Womack and classic soul in general, this here’s the mother lode. Comprised of 50 tracks over two discs, this massive collection only covers a small portion of Womack’s prolific career. The journey might seem daunting, much like the California Gold Rush, but in this case, rewards are guaranteed and there’s no risk of contracting cholera.
Of course, the songs you already love, like “It’s All Over Now” and “Across 110th Street,” are here. But the best thing about such comprehensive compilations are finding songs you may not have otherwise, and there’s plenty of that here. An early song like “Trust Me” really highlights his unique take on soul music. You can hear how it points the way to the funkier material he made later in his career. “Communication” is a pure funk gem that has Womack deploying his trademark howl all over it. “I Don’t Want To Be Hurt By Ya Love Again” is a gorgeous R&B ballad. No one knows how Sam Cooke’s career would have fared in the ’70s, but I tend to doubt he would have fit in as easily as Bobby Womack. A single like “Woman’s Gotta Have it” just makes sense. It sounds of it’s time and most importantly, it’s good. That’s the cool thing about Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. You can track his career and see how he evolved and why he’s such a legendary artist.
Also featured on this album is a large number of cover songs that equal or surpass the originals. The best of these is his incredible take on “California Dreamin’,” which I’ve loved since its usage in the movie Fish Tank. Womack takes a burnt-out, schmaltzy song like “Fly Me To the Moon” and puts a fresh spin on it. He even makes covering “Sweet Caroline” seem like not a half-bad idea.
This is a huge collection, so of course there are a few duds, plus its a lot to take in, especially in one listen. If you even kind of like Bobby Womack, it doesn’t get much better than this. It’ll save you the trouble of trying to find all the studio albums.