Archive for the ‘Womack & Womack’ Category

The Anglos

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Listen: Incense / The Anglos

Who doesn’t love a mystery?

For decades, speculation has surrounded the origins of The Anglos’ lead singer on ‘Incense’, many claiming it to be Stevie Winwood. The single was eventually released on UK Island proper in ’65. Having previously been issued a number of smaller UK and US labels, the confusion is most likely clouded by the Jimmy Miller production. He was working for Chris Blackwell and Island, involved with The Spencer Davis Group, having produced both ‘Gimme Some Lovin” and the ultimate ‘I’m A Man’ masterpiece.

But in fact, the voice here belongs to Joe Webster, from Virginia, as were The Anglos. Frankly, if you listen closely, it’s quite obviously not Stevie Winwood, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he wished it were him.

On a late night trip from London to his country house in Theale, where Chris Blackwell had invited Corinne and I for a weekend, conversation turned to The Anglos. Chris, driving his Rolls and playing the then unreleased Womack & Womack album for us, revealed in no uncertain terms it was absolutely not Stevie Winwood, but instead said fellow, Joe Webster.

We soon pulled up to the Theale cottage, whereby Chris apologized that Jim Capaldi had lazily left his clothes and shoes all round the guest room, assuring us the sheets were clean.

Womack & Womack

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Listen: Celebrate The World (Radio Edit) / Womack & Womack
Celebrate The World (Radio Edit) / Womack & Womack

I’m a huge fan of Sirius radio here in the US. Certainly compared to our totally tuckered terrestrial stations, it’s an oasis in a very dry desert. You see, Sirius, via it’s many channels, provides endless variety, with easily one hundred or so to pick from. But put the whole lot up against the UK’s BBC Radio 2, and even collectively, they can’t compete.

Not sure why or how, but every last presenter on BBC’s various stations pack more excitement and personality into their on-air style than many of those from Sirius in America. Here, there’s this persistent problem of a time warp delivery rut. Well, funny enough, not Bob Dylan. Nor most of Little Steven’s crew. And yes, Sirius does have Andrew Loog Oldham, but he kind of counts as English to me, clearly weened on UK radio.

Basically, my preference and the opinions above boil down to one thing. Variety. Not necessarily variety over that one hundred or so channel options, each with a narrow genre to offer, but as in programming variety within each show throughout the day.

Yes, Radio 2 has dedicated programs: Sounds Of The Sixties, Sounds Of The Seventies, specialty country or blues shows and such. But otherwise, each host and their producer pick a wide range of genres to mix within their respective daily time slots.

My absolute favorite being Janice Long. Having started with the BBC in ’82, it was on 6 Music that I first found a real affinity to her via The Dream Ticket, whereby she chose a deep, multi decade variety of live sessions from the station’s library, assembling them into a…dream ticket. In essence, a concert lineup one could only dream of.

Joining Radio 2 a few years back, there’s rarely a week goes by when I don’t listen to her most recent shows on demand, all archived for up to seven days. Never a dull moment and always a surprise or ten musically. Do yourself a favor.

Today, I did some Janice Long catching up, and once again, shook my head in happy disbelief. From The Honeybus, Ivor Culter, Alexis Korner and The Maytals, amongst many, to Womack & Womack, all in the span of a few programs from last week.

And not ‘Teardrops’ by Womack & Womack either. Instead ‘Celebrate The World’, closing track and fourth UK single from their flawless CONSCIENCE album. In England, this 7″ release made it to #14 in ’89, and was a perfect live performance finale, whereby the entire Womack clan would pile onstage for an extended ramp with the audience. Wow, those shows back in the day were so good.

Working for Island at the time, like most of the US staff, I found great frustration by the lack of radio and/or media support here for such a worthy album. Back in the UK, where it went platinum, this was not the case.

Well Janice Long gave ‘Celebrate The World’ a play on one of those shows I soundtracked my afternoon with today, and let me tell you, it sounded superb.

Womack & Womack

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

WomackMPB, Womack & Womack, Island, Chris Blackwell, Julian Palmer

WomackMPBPS Womack & Womack, Island, Chris Blackwell, Julian Palmer

Listen: MPB (Missing Persons Bureau) / Womack & Womack WomackMPB.mp3

Womack & Womack were a peculiar bunch. The music: always great – always, but there were many eccentricities.

A quite funny incident occurred when delivering their album CONSCIENCE to Island. Now this would have been summer ’88. Chris Blackwell was in town, and a few of us were hanging around his office late that afternoon eating cashews and drinking cold beer as he played one great track from it after the other. Chris always had loads of drinks in his fridge, plus nuts, fruit and good snacks on the front edge of his desk, where at least a couple of chairs would face him – and anyone from the staff could literally hang there, playing music – new singles, demos, mixes, whatever. It was good fun when he’d share stories about Jamaica or Island history, always casual and no stress. Indeed casual was the absolute description of his preferred work environment. Being a top host, it could be a really fun place.

So Maureen from the art department turns up with a packaging proof for his approval. Womack & Womack had done their deal through Julian Palmer in the UK office, I seem to recall. Didn’t matter, Chris would approve all art and so London wanted his okay. He’s looking it over and asks, “Why does it list me as executive producer?”. Maureen got a touch flustered, worried she’d fucked something up and explains that’s how the label copy was submitted. “But I’ve never even met them” he laughs. We all just fell in hysterics as by then the ganga was circulating. “What the fuck’s up with these people?”.

It totally captured the roller coaster twists and turns the project took, ultimately ending after one album, despite massive success.

The Womacks were very much a family operation, and a large one at that. All the kids, even the grandmother, would be on stage making for a fantastic show (their run at The Bottom Line a particularly great memory), but chaotic in most other respects, like when they’d invade the office.

‘MPB (Missing Person’s Bureau)’ was the fourth and final single from the LP. Despite a low chart reading (#92 UK), it didn’t really reflect the song’s popularity. The full length was platinum by then.

Never have I played this with others around and not get the ‘wow, what’s this’ reaction.