Musical Industrial Complex: Womack's TV Time Machine
Welcome to a regular feature on the new, improved and totally nude Inner Sleeve: Musical Industrial Complex.The imperfect but underrated US President Dwight Eisenhower, the main General behind D-Day, left a warning and a curse when he retired in 1960. He cautioned the world thus: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." Shock fact, Eisenhower was a "Republican" at the time - these days anyone worrying about the distortions of capitalist power would be seen as farther to the Left than the wind. When I talk about the musical equivalent, I mean the foggy organic cancer around pop, money, media and the public.The Funky Frenchman, as we well know, is a quantum authority on all that is cool and also has his ears tuned all across the shop and planet to see what's down. This summer, he noticed a lot of chat about and demand for Bobby Womack. Bobby has not ever been in the top tier of cool for Soul fans, yet suddenly people wanted his wax. Why?Grave robbers.We've covered the efforts of XL Recordings and friends to bother the nearly dead into Guardian critic proof cumbakk records, but that's just part of the story. The XL PRs ensured that Summer 2013 was a great time to not just rediscover a faded footnote from Soul's golden age, but create a New Artiste by bending and fixing History itself like some kind of quantum psychics based B movie.Bobby had his moments. I must confess to loving the Across 110th Street soundtrack, though not nearly as much as say Shaft in Africa, and it is kind of JJ Johnson that deserves the credit in the end. Stop on by is not a bad single, but there is not much beyond that. Philippe made me shudder in shame with the truism "Bobby Womack was never cool".It is a truism because it is true.The made a few decent records, but hell if you imprisoned Tom, Pete and Philippe in a basement with a few session stars, Pernod and gourmet spring rolls they would crank out a decent EP in whatever genre was demanded to free them. I can see it now - The Gironists: In Jah's Basement.But the Bobby everyone was looking for never existed. They made him.A well timed "credible" BBC4 documentary retold Bobby's story. Or did it create a new one? I was not even a misconceived notion in my parents lives in 1972 and being academically trained in History means I understand that just like the line in the amazing film, The Go Between, "The Past is another country. They do things differently there."We can't go back straight.We project ourselves onto the Past and want to make it reflect our values.So without even bothering to watch the nonsense I can tell you what's in it:America sucked.Full of formal Apartheid in the South and insidious informal exclusion in my North.A Black singer songrighter genius emerged, with few opportunities beyond those compromised by commerce.Then as taste and time changed, obscurity.Until a Great White Knight emerges to bring back the magic.A more cynical, honest take on that would be:A guy with some okish talent emerges on the scene, cuts a few decent records, with help.Falls off the radar like a fart in a windtunnel.Decades later some chancers looking for quick cred pick him out of the bin to make him the star he never was.This is not even as bad as it gets. Much in the tradition of fucking Sting who brought in sidemen to reduce his MOR stink, the skips of post war Soul have plenty of victims ripe for the picking. George Duke, fusion star who debased himself with some 80s plastic R n Best Forgotten, just passed away in time for Demon Albarn to miss the chance to "save" him.This borrowed cred and cool, with White Knights "saving", "rediscovering" and "collaborating" with the faded stars of the past is little more, and in fact a lot less, than the cheapest, ugliest, stupidest exploitation techniques of B movies and pro wrestling. Cult non-auteur Ed Wood milked footage of a junked out Bela Lugosi for years after the original Dracula was under the lid for good.Of course Womack Wacktrack Comeback Downloads should be under a lid too - of the nearest bin.