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.