Back in 1988, one of my favorite tracks was Teardrops by Womack and Womack. It reached number three in August 1988 in the UK singles charts. It seemed that back then, it was never off the radio. Every time I put the radio on, went into a shop or a car passed, Teardrops was on the radio. Since then, I’ve always loved that song. A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a compilation album, and on it was Teardrops. That made me look for my old copy of Conscience, the album Teardrops was taken from. I hadn’t listened to it for ages, and decided to put it on. That was fatal, because since then, I’ve listened to the album countless times. Conscience was released in June 1988, and was the fourth album from Cecil and Linda Womack. Not only did they write the nine songs, under the name of Dr Rue and The Gypsy Wave Banner, but they co-produced the album with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. To me, it was their best album so far, featuring some great music, music that even, twenty-three years later, still sounds just as good. I’ll now tell why that’s the case.

Conscience opens with Conscious of My Conscience, which begins with guitars and rhythm section combining before the vocal enters, with Cecil singing the lead, and Linda singing backing vocal. The arrangement is gradually unfolding, with the tempo reasonably quick and the arrangement melodic and bright. It’s mainly guitars and rhythm section that can be heard, with the bass line deep and funky. Later on, the track takes a dramatic turn, thanks to bass and drums. Overall, the track has a restrained quality, that you think will eventually turn into a funk workout. That never happens, although several times you think it will, with the funk being turned up slightly. Overall, it’s a good opening track, featuring a good vocal from Cecil and Linda, and an arrangement where, although the funk doesn’t arrive, the anticipation of it, makes it all worthwhile.

The tempo drops on M.P.B (Missing Person’s Bureau) which opens with rhythm section and guitars, with handclaps accompanying the vocal, with Cecil giving a gentle and thoughtful vocal. His voice is tender as he sings about a lover who’s missing. Meanwhile, the arrangement is slower, a mixture of soul and subtle funk. There’s a great guitar solo, which replaces the vocal. It’s accompanied by the rhythm section contributing elements of gentle funk, before Cecil and Linda combine wonderfully. Their vocals are perfect, gentle and thoughtful, delivering the lyrics brilliantly. Together with a slower, subtle arrangement, which never overpowers the tender and thoughtful vocal, this is a potent combination, resulting in one of the album’s best tracks.

Friends (So Called) opens with guitar and piano playing, and Linda’s vocal, before the rhythm section lift the tempo. Cecil takes over the vocal, his voice loud and clear, accompanied by crisp drums and percussion, a booming bass and guitars. Behind him, backing vocalists joyously accompany him, Linda’s voice prominent, while the rhythm section and guitars drive the song along. As the song progresses, it becomes really melodic, keyboards playing, while the backing vocalists and handclaps accompany Cecil. The lyrics, are realistic and many people will be able to relate to them, how friends desert you. However, what I’ve always liked about the track are Cecil’s vocal, the contribution of the backing vocalists and how the rhythm section and guitars drive the track along. Together, they make this a really good, melodic song.

On Slave (Just For Love), you hear a very different side to Womack and Womack, with a song that has lyrics that have a spiritual quality. Guitar and rhythm section open the track, with the tempo slow and Cecil’s vocal tender and thoughtful as he emotionally, and with feeling sings the lyrics. Linda’s voice soars briefly in the background, as an acoustic guitar and the rhythm section play subtly, in a way that suits both Cecil’s vocal and the lyrics. Behind him, Linda sings gentle backing vocals, which are perfect for the song. This lovely understated arrangement is perfect for the track, as is Cecil’s vocal, which delivers the lyrics thoughtfully. A combination of subtle arrangement and vocal, together with some really strong lyrics, make this an intriguing, compelling and wonderful track.

The best track on the album is next, Teardrops, just under eight minutes of brilliant music. Linda sings lead vocal here, and when the track opens, it’s crisp fast drums, gentle, backing vocals, bass, guitars and handclaps, that create what can only be described as a melodic and hook laden dance-floor classic. Throughout the track, that’s what you hear, and the tempo is quick, Linda’s vocal is loud and melodic and the arrangement is fast and catchy. Throughout the track, the rhythm section and guitars, are at the heart of the track, driving it along. It’s the type of track that’s uplifting and has a feel-good factor, and makes you want to dance. From the opening bars until the end, it’s just brilliant music. Catchy, melodic and hook laden, is the best way of describing the track. Both the arrangement and vocal from Linda, make this the best track on the album, and the best track Womack and Womack ever recorded.

Good Man Monologue opens with rhythm section, guitars and percussion accompany Cecil’s vocal, which is powerful, soaring heavenwards during the track. Linda takes over the lead, her voice loud and strong, full of passionate, as the arrangement combines soul with funk. Guitars chime brightly, as the rhythm section add funk, while Cecil unleashes a vocal that’s a mixture of power and emotion. Both Cecil and Linda give outstanding vocals, demonstrating how hugely talented they are. By the end, you can’t fail to admire the passion and emotion of both Cecil and Linda’s vocal. Both produce stunning vocals, among the best on the album.

Guitars, rhythm section and percussion accompany Cecil as he brightly sings the introduction to Life’s Just A Ball Game accompanied by Linda. Together, they combine perfectly, feeding off each other, while the arrangement brightly unfolds behind them. There are elements of both soul, funk and Latin music present. The vocals provide the soul, while the arrangement has elements of soul, funk and Latin present, especially during a breakdown that features the rhythm section, guitars and percussion showcasing their talents. There’s a joyousness in the vocals and arrangement, with the rhythm section contributing their fair share, and in the process, helping make this one of Conscience’s best tracks.

Drums, chiming guitars and quick, accurate, bass accompany Linda’s bright joyful vocal on I Am Love. She’s accompanied by backing vocalists, whose voice are a perfect accompaniment to Linda’s voice. Her voice soars high and sweetly, always in control, while the rhythm section and guitars combine to create a similarly beautiful and joyous arrangement. They succeed perfectly, and although this is only a short track, it’s a beautiful one, thanks to Linda’s vocal and some lovely lyrics.

Conscience closes with Celebrate the World, a which is an uptempo and uplifting, joyous celebratory track, with Cecil and Linda sharing the vocals, and accompanied by driving rhythm section, chiming guitars and handclaps. It’s the fastest track on the album, and one that’s perfect for any dance-floor. Both Cecil and Linda sing the lyrics with joy, demonstrating just how talented they are. Like Teardrops, it’s a track that’s melodic, infectiously catchy and absolutely laden with hooks. I guarantee that if you put this track on, you’ll be immediately smitten by this driving, feel-good and uplifting track. Resistance is impossible, you won’t be able to resist this track, as it just makes you feel good, makes you want to dance and generally makes you happy. Over nearly seven minutes, Womack and Womack produce some of the most joyous and uplifting music ever to grace your ears. Quite simply, a stunning track.

Having rediscovered Conscience after a short absence, I just can’t stop listening to the album. There may only be nine songs on the album, but they’re nine great songs, a mixture of joyous and uplifting songs like Teardrops and Celebrate the World and much more thoughtful tracks like On Slave (Just For Love). On each track, Cecil and Linda give some great vocals, a mixture of tender and thoughtful and uptempo and joyous. This demonstrates both their versatility and talent, and together with a hugely talented band, and backing vocalists, they produce an album to be proud of. Although just over twenty-three years old, Conscience has aged really well, and still sounds just as good as when I first bought it in June 1988. Over the years when I’ve mentioned this album, people have always confused it with Bobby Womack, and when I’ve explained who Cecil and Linda are, they may only have heard of Teardrops and Love Wars, two of their best known tracks. When they hear the music, they realize that they’ve missed out on not only a great album, but two hugely talented artists. If you are like these people, Conscience is an album that’s well worth buying. It features some great music, and is the perfect introduction to the brilliant music of Womack and Womack. Standout Tracks: M.P.B (Missing Person’s Bureau), On Slave (Just For Love), Teardrops and Celebrate the World.


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