Bobby Womack had been a collaborator on Sly & the Family Stone's epic "There's a Riot Going On" album, and it is said that he began writing for these albums during that period. The influence of the Funk of "Riot" is clear enough but there is also some of the best Soul Music of the 70's right here, on what is a superb double set.
On "Understanding", we start and finish with classics namely "I Can Understand It" and "Harry Hippie" - the former an uptempo groove, stretched out with Funk and Rock influences in evidence, the latter a mellow hymn to self reliance.
In between, there's much to recommend, with covers and originals rubbing shoulders, always with BW's unique vocals and arrangements, the stand outs for me being "Womans' Gotta Have It" and "Ruby Dean".
When we get to "Understanding", the Funk is truly upon us in the title track, down and dirty, with Bobby howling and screaming over the run out. The rest of the album finds a more mellow path, and the cover of "Fire and Rain" is definitive. Add in "If You Don't Want My Love" and "That's The Way I Feel About Cha" and you have the makings of a class album (Just ignore "Everything's Beautiful" - I don't know what he was thinking !!)
Bobby Womack has a track record of influence that spans generations and musical boundaries, from the Rolling Stones to Sam Cooke, from Soul and Rock to Country music. He has deserved better recognition than he has got from the general public - buy this set and begin to put that right
on 6 September 2014
First heard the album Understanding on the Trevor Nelson Soul show on Radio2 the songs he played were incredible and blew me away by how good they were, once I came home I orderded this double cd, impressed with Womack's cover versions of songs especially James Taylor's Fire and Rain which is so soulful, superb album and well recommended.