9 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bobby Womack continued his mid-career renaissance with 1984’s The Poet II. He had great taste in modern funk, and made the sound work for him, whether on the brooding blues of “American Dream,” the groovy “Tell Me Why” or the Prince-like new wave of “Who’s Foolin’ Who.” He still has a knack for new textures and production ideas. “Surprise, Surprise” has the low-key, almost improvised feel associated with Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” or even some of the pioneering solo works by Womack’s friend and collaborator, Sly Stone. On “Through the Eyes of a Child,” Womack quotes another of his close friends and mentors: Sam Cooke, whose death reached its twentieth anniversary when The Poet II was released. Even though it is a world away from Cooke’s epochal “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Womack’s song carries on its message of freedom. The two duets with Patti LaBelle are equally powerful. They sing together as adults who have been tested and have emerged stronger people — a huge advancement since the days when Womack and Cooke had to be marketed as teenybopper heartthrobs in order to find success.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bobby Womack continued his mid-career renaissance with 1984’s The Poet II. He had great taste in modern funk, and made the sound work for him, whether on the brooding blues of “American Dream,” the groovy “Tell Me Why” or the Prince-like new wave of “Who’s Foolin’ Who.” He still has a knack for new textures and production ideas. “Surprise, Surprise” has the low-key, almost improvised feel associated with Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” or even some of the pioneering solo works by Womack’s friend and collaborator, Sly Stone. On “Through the Eyes of a Child,” Womack quotes another of his close friends and mentors: Sam Cooke, whose death reached its twentieth anniversary when The Poet II was released. Even though it is a world away from Cooke’s epochal “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Womack’s song carries on its message of freedom. The two duets with Patti LaBelle are equally powerful. They sing together as adults who have been tested and have emerged stronger people — a huge advancement since the days when Womack and Cooke had to be marketed as teenybopper heartthrobs in order to find success.

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