WILSON PICKETT SINGS BOBBY WOMACK.

Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack.

Label: Kent Soul.

Nowadays, Wilson Pickett and Bobby Womack are remembered as two of the legends of soul music. Both men enjoyed long and illustrious careers, which saw them write their names into musical history. The two men also shared much in common, with Wilson Pickett and Bobby Womack both coming from a gospel background. That was where they learned to express themselves, before crossing over and embarking upon a career as soul singers. 

The first to do so, was Wilson Pickett, who was born in 1941 and was three years older than Bobby Womack. Wilson Pickett’s solo career began in 1962 and continued right up until his death in 2006. 

Bobby Womack also solo enjoyed a long and successful solo career that spanned six decades. He released his debut single in 1965, and forty-seven years later, Bobby Womack released his twenty-seventh and final studio album The Bravest Man In The Universe in June 2012. Sadly, not long after that, Bobby Womack who had already survived colon cancer, was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. Just two years later soul survivor Bobby Womack passed away on June ’27th’ 2014. That day music lost one of its true legends.

While Wilson Pickett and Bobby Womack share much in common, the two soul men were inextricably linked between 1966 and September 1969. During that period, Wilson Pickett recorded seventeen songs penned by Bobby Womack. These songs feature on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack, which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. As an added bonus, there are also two songs from Bobby Womack on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack between 1967 and 1968. However, Wilson Pickett’s career began twelve years before he recorded a Bobby Womack composition. 

In 1955, fourteen years old Wilson Pickett from Prattville, Alabama, started singing gospel with The Violinaires and spent the next four years touring America. By 1959, Wilson Pickett was ready to crossover and joined the vocal group The Falcons.

Their lineup already included Mack Rice and Eddie Floyd, and the addition of Wilson Pickett should’ve made The Falcons a formidable force. However, it was three years before they enjoyed a minor hit with I Found Love. It featured a heart-wrenching lead vocal from Wilson Pickett who was already contemplating a solo career.

By 1962, Wilson Pickett had written It’s Too Late, and with the help of Don Convay, went into the studio to record a demo. This demo he sent to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, hoping that he would be interested in signing him. This backfired when Jerry Wexler gave the song to one of his artists Solomon Burke. He enjoyed a huge hit with It’s Too Late, which reached number thirty-seven in the US Billboard and two in the US R&B charts. While Wilson Pickett was pleased to have written a successful single for Solomon Burke, Atlantic Records weren’t interested in signing him. This was a huge disappointment for the twenty-two year old singer.

So was the commercial failure of his debut single. Let Me Be Your Boy was released on the Correc-Tone label in April 1962, but never came close to troubling the charts. It was an inauspicious start to Wilson Pickett’s solo career.

Wilson Pickett’s luck changed in early 1963 when he signed to Harold Logan and Lloyd Price’s Double-L Records. This proved to be the perfect label for Wilson Pickett at this stage of his career and Harold Logan and Lloyd Price would help transform his career.

The first single Wilson Pickett released for Double-L Records was If You Need Me in March 1963. It reached sixty-four in the US Billboard 100 and thirty in the US R&B chart. Things were looking up for Wilson Pickett. 

Three months later, Wilson Pickett when released It’s Too Late in June 1963, it reached forty-nine in the US Billboard 100 and seven in the US R&B chart. With two consecutive hits to his name, Double-L Records looked like the perfect label for Wilson Pickett. 

In October 1963, Wilson Pickett released his third single for Double-L Records, I’m Down to My Last Heartbreak. Although it stalled at ninety-five in the US Billboard 100, reached twenty-seven in the US R&B charts. This gave Wilson Pickett his third top thirty US R&B hits. By then, he had released his debut album It’s Too Late. Wilson Pickett was one of Double-L Records’ most successful signings. However,  I’m Down to My Last Heartbreak was the last single Wilson Pickett released on Double-L Records.

Two years after sending his demo of It’s Too Late to Atlantic Records, Wilson Pickett he signed on the dotted line in 1964. By then, Atlantic Records was one of the most successful soul & R&B labels. Wilson Pickett was now rubbing shoulders with the great and good of soul.

The first year that Wilson Pickett spent at Atlantic Records didn’t produce any hits. I’m Gonna Cry reached 124 in the US Billboard 100, while Come Home Baby didn’t even come close to troubling the charts. Compared to 1963, 1964 was a disaster for Wilson Pickett. Things were about to improve though.

In May of 1965, Wilson Pickett travelled to Memphis to record a session at Stax. The first session produced a number of songs including In the Midnight Hour a Wilson Pickett and Steve Cropper song, and Don’t Fight It.  This was the first of two trips to Stax Studios Wilson Pickett made. He returned in 1965 and joining the band for the sessions was Isaac Hayes. The Stax sessions transformed Wilson Pickett’s career at Atlantic Records.

The first song from the Stax sessions that Wilson Pickett released as a s single was In the Midnight Hour. It was released in June 1965, and reached twenty-one on the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. In the Midnight Hour was the biggest hit of Wilson Pickett’s career and nowadays, is regarded as soul classic.

For the followup to In the Midnight Hour, Wilson Pickett released Don’t Fight It in October 1965 which reached fifty-three in the US Billboard 100 and number four on the US R&B charts. This was the third top ten US R&B single of Wilson Pickett’s career. Both Don’t Fight It and In the Midnight Hour found their way onto Wilson Pickett’s 1965 sophomore album In the Midnight Hour. This rounded off what had been the most successful year of Wilson Pickett’s career.

The success continued when Wilson Pickett released 634-5789 (Soulsville USA) in January 1966. It reached thirteen in the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. This was the second US R&B number one of Wilson Pickett’s career. He was well on his way to becoming one of soul’s biggest stars.

When it came to record his next single, Wilson Pickett headed to Fame Studios, in Muscle Shoals where he worked with producer Rick Hall and his legendary house band. They recorded  Land Of A Thousand Dances and Ninety-Nine and A Half (Won’t Do) which soon  would be released  as singles and  featured on his 1966 album The Exciting Wilson Picket.

Ninety-Nine and A Half (Won’t Do) was released in May 1966, but it stalled at fifty-three in the US Billboard 100 and number thirteen on the US R&B charts. This was a disappointing for Wilson Pickett.

When he released Land Of A Thousand Dances in June 1966, it reached number six in the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. This was the third US R&B number one of Wilson Pickett’s career, but his first million selling single. Wilson Pickett’s star was definitely in the ascendancy.

Following Land Of A Thousand Dances, Wilson Pickett released Mustang Sally in November 1966. It which reached twenty-three in the US Billboard 100 and number eight on the US R&B charts. This brought to a close the most successful year of Wilson Pickett’s career. He had enjoyed two US R&B number one hits and released two albums The Exciting Wilson Pickett.

As 1967 dawned, Wilson Pickett returned hoping to pickup where he left off in 1966. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love was released in January 1967 and reached twenty-nine in the US Billboard 100 and number nineteen on the US R&B charts. This was a disappointment, considering the success Wilson Pickett had enjoyed during 1966. 

Two months later, and Wilson Pickett returned with a cover of a Bobby Womack and Reggie Young composition, I Found A Love-Part I. This was the first of seventeen Bobby Womack songs Wilson Pickett would release over a two-year period. When I Found A Love-Part I was released in March 1967 it reached thirty-two in the US Billboard 100 and six in the US R&B charts. This was the sixth top ten US R&B hit Wilson Pickett enjoyed in five years.

The next single Wilson Pickett released was Soul Dance Number Three in May 1967. It stalled at fifty-five in the US Billboard 100, but reached ten in the US R&B charts. This was followed up by Funky Broadway in July 1967, which reached number eight in the US Billboard 100, but reached one the US R&B charts. For Wilson Pickett, this was his third number US R&B single. 

For the followup to Funky Broadway, Wilson Pickett a beautiful Bobby Womack penned ballad I’m In Love. It was tailor-made for Wilson Pickett and was released in October 1967. The song dealt with the criticism that Bobby Womack had been receiving for marrying Sam Cooke’s widow. As Wilson Pickett sings “I’m In Love” it’s as if he can relate to Bobby Womack’s sentiments. It was no surprise that this powerful and poignant rendition of I’m In Love reached number forty-five in US Billboard and four the US R&B charts. This was the ninth top ten single of Wilson Pickett’s career.

During 1967, Wilson Pickett found time to record two albums, including The Sound Of Wilson Pickett, which featured a trio of Bobby Womack songs. This included the soul-baring ballad I’m Sorry About That and I Found The One which is a beautiful ballad with gospel-tinged harmonies. They were joined by Something Within Me a bluesy, soulful ballad. The addition of these three on The Sound Of Wilson Pickett helped the album to fifty-four on the US R&B charts. This was disappointing given the quality of music on The Sound Of Wilson Pickett.

The other  album Wilson Pickett released during 1967 was The Wicked Pickett. Bobby Womack contributed the uptempo Nothing You Can Do to the album The Wicked Pickett. Sadly, the album never charted and 1967 was a year of mixed fortunes for Wilson Pickett. He was hoping that 1968 would be a better year.

By 1968, Bobby Womack and Wilson Pickett were good friends, and this friendship strengthened over the next couple of years. Both men were enjoying successful solo careers. Bobby Womack’s song were also being covered by some of the biggest names in music, including the Rolling Stones and of course Wilson Pickett.

He released two albums during 1968, including I’m In Love, which featured five Bobby Womack compositions, This included I’m In Love and the string-drenched, dramatic ballad Jealous Love. It joins the stomping Let’s Get An Understanding, which features Wilson Pickett in full flight. It’s a similar case on We’ve Got To Have Love where backing vocalists accompany Wilson Pickett. The final song is I’ve Come A Long Way, which is a beautiful ballad. The four Bobby Womack songs helped the album to seventy in the US Billboard 200. Things were looking good for Wilson Pickett.

They were about to get even better when the Bobby Womack composition I’m A Midnight Mover gave Wilson Pickett his biggest hit of 1968. When it was released as a single in June 1968, it reached twenty-four in the US Billboard 100 and six in the US R&B charts. This was the eleventh and final top ten US R&B single of Wilson Pickett’s career. While I’m A Midnight Mover is one of his finest singles, it’s Bobby Womack who recorded the definitive version of the song. 

When Wilson Pickett came to record his next album, The Midnight Mover it features four Bobby Womack songs. This included the hit single I’m A Midnight Mover, the tender, heartfelt ballad It’s A Groove and the hopeful ballad Trust Me. The final song was Remember, I Been Good To You a song about love lost, which features an emotive and impassioned vocal from Wilson Pickett. Bobby Womack’s four songs played an important part on The Midnight Mover which reached ninety-one in the US Billboard 200. 1968 had been a good year for Bobby Womack.

After the success of 1968, Wilson Pickett was keen to build on it as 1969 dawned. Ultimately, it proved a frustrating year, with Wilson Pickett choosing to cover songs like Born To Wild, Hey Joe and You Keep Me Hanging On. Needless to say, none of the singles he released proved particularly successful. They certainly never troubled the top ten. However, the two Bobby Womack songs he covered on his album Hey Joe were much more suited to the soul man.

For the Hey Joe album, Wilson Pickett covered the Bobby Womack ballad People Make The World (What It Is) and the uptempo track Sit Down And Talk This Over. It allowed Wilson Pickett to unleash a vocal powerhouse. These two songs were among the highlights of Hey Joe, which was released in 1969 and reached ninety-seven in the US Billboard 200. This brought to an end Wilson Pickett’s Bobby Womack Years.

Adding the finishing touch to Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack is Wilson Pickett’s cover of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me plus two songs from Bobby Womack. They’re Find Me Someone and How Does It Feel, which are a welcome reminder of true soul legend in his prime. It’s a fitting way to close Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack.

The release of Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records is the first time the seventeen Bobby Womack compositions have ever been released on a compilation. There’s been a previous attempt to release the songs on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack in 1999. Sadly, it never came to fruition and it was another eighteen years before the project came to fruition.  

As a result, the Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack compilation is  one that many soul fans will have been looking forward to for many a year. It finds one soul great Wilson Pickett, singing the seventeen songs from the pen of the legendary Bobby Womack. These songs which were recorded and released between 1969 and 1969 feature Wilson Pickett in his prime. 

By 1969, Wilson Pickett had enjoyed three US R&B number ones and eleven top US R&B top ten hits. As a result Wilson Pickett was one of the biggest names in soul. Partly, this was because of the material he was covering. That was the case from 1966 right up until his Hey Joe album in 1969. While it wasn’t Wilson Pickett’s finest album, two covers of Bobby Womack songs were among the album’s highlights.

Between 1966 and 1969 Wilson Pickett seemed to have an uncanny knack of choosing the right songs to cover. This included the songs written by his friend Bobby Womack. Wilson Pickett breathed life, meaning and emotion into the songs, as he switched between ballads and uptempo tracks. He comes into his own on the ballads on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack. Just like the rest of the songs on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack, these songs seemed to be tailor-made for Wilson Pickett, as he enjoyed the most successful period of his career.

Playing their part in this success is the seventeen songs on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack which are a reminder of Wilson Pickett at peak of his powers, during his five decade career. The ideal companion to Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack would be compilation featuring the late, great Bobby Womack singing the same songs. That would be a fitting tribute to another legendary soul man. Meanwhile, soul fans can enjoy the his old friend and fellow soul man at his soulful best on Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack.

Wilson Pickett Sings Bobby Womack.

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