The early ’80s albums The
Poet and The Poet II were
considered “comebacks” for Bobby Womack, after having tucked away a
number of chart hits through the previous decade (including his peerless
soundtrack for Across 110th Street and his 1974 single “Lookin’ For A Love”). Re-released as a single CD
as a reminder to fans of why this soul legend deserves a spot in the Rock ‘n’
Roll Hall of Fame (he was inducted this year), the music sounds more like
Womack simply doing what any good popular musician does: settling into the
sound of the times.
The sound of this album is decidedly slick, relying heavily
on glossy synthesizer washes and slow dance grooves over which Womack and (on II) Patti LaBelle use their rich voices
to opine about loves lost, found and longed for. In other words: a very ’80s
production, one that R&B stars like Womack, the late Luther Vandross and
Smokey Robinson have never really freed themselves from in their autumn years.
In that respect, these two albums sound dated and even a
little kitschy but you can’t deny the heart that went into the making of them.
Womack gives his all to these tracks, groaning and stamping through even the
most lightweight tracks. It makes those moments when the music hits the right
punchy tone as with the steady, dripping with strings groover “Tryin’ To
Get Over You” and the last gasp of warbling disco known as “Stand
Up”, soar from the speakers.
Standout tracks: “Love
Has Finally Come At Last,” “Stand Up,” “Surprise,
Surprise” ROBERT HAM