Bobby Womack has had his fingers in so many different pies that his career has probably suffered for it. Instead of being pinned down to one time and one sound (à la Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix), Womack's work includes everything from the grittiest of blaxploitation ("Across 110th Street") to the smoothest of vocal pop ("I Left My Heart in San Francisco"). (And, by the way, he excelled at both.) He was also a rare triple threat -- hot guitarist, hitmaking songwriter, and torrid vocalist. But, more than for his musical skills, he's probably best known for marrying Sam Cooke's wife scant months after Cooke's death, and shepherding Sly Stone through the darkest days of There's a Riot Goin' On. The 2008 collection The Best of Bobby Womack: The Soul Years presents Soul Maverick #1 in a tight set of 22 songs from the prime of his career, the late '60s and early '70s. All of his best singles are here, as are the best tracks from his best albums, Communication and Understanding. Finally, the new remastering here provides sound that is vastly better than Womack has ever been given in the digital era. Some fans may still prefer a double-disc set like Midnight Mover: The Bobby Womack Collection, but The Best of Bobby Womack: The Soul Years is easily his best single-disc compilation.
AllMusic Review by John Bush
feat: Bill Withers