Soul/R&B legend Bobby Womack is definitely a man who's paid his dues -- as the writer of such classics as "It's All Over Now" (covered by the Stones), "Lookin' for a Love" (covered by J. Geils) and the guitarist on Sly Stone's chestnut "Family Affair" and Wilson Pickett's mover "Funky Broadway," he has all the prerequisites for a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After leaving his strictly religious father's home in the late '50s, (with a car bought for them by Sam Cooke) Bobby and the Womack Brothers set out to conquer popular radio, using their church-bred voices and down-home, bluesy stylings to twist and change genres they hadn't even heard of yet. Back to My Roots finds Womack doing just that, singing some of his favorite gospel numbers, while retaining some of that old fire that made him so popular with the white youth of America and Britain in the '60s. Enlisting the aid of James W. Alexander (Sam Cooke's partner and a former member of the Pilgrim Travelers gospel group) to introduce and close the album, Womack dedicated this work to his father, who unfortunately died before he got a chance to hear the finished product, as did Alexander. With versions of "Rug" (one of his '60s hits), "Motherless Child" and the Staple Singers' classic "Oh Happy Day," this album showcases Womack's love of all styles and genres, from country pickin' to funky, bluesy breakdowns, to choir-esque, baptismal uber-joy. The opening lines of the first track, "Rug," say it all: "Now I'm sitting here reminiscing about the good old days/Singing gospel music with my brothers/We called ourselves the Womack Brothers/Before we were ever born, my father prayed for five sons, he said, "God, if you bless me with them, I will teach them to sing your praises"/Well, he got his wish, not knowing that we would want the material things in life/I remember the first time I told my father I was going to sing rock and roll; that's the first time I saw my daddy cry/I remember him saying, "What does it profit a man to gain the world, and lose his soul?/And I know now, absolutely nothing."
AllMusic Review by Tom Hallett