Bobby Womack’s debut album on United Artist Records was recorded at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with instrumental support from key members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. The album, entitled “Communication”, did extremely well on the Billboard Hot Soul Albums chart by reaching number five. It was originally recorded in 1971. This was his first solo album to reach the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Soul Albums Chart. The classic R&B and Soul single released from the album was “That’s The Way I Feel About Cha” which became a number two on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart in 1972, selling in excess of eight hundred thousand copies in the United States. The track features the guitar riff of Jimmy Johnson, of course one of key musicians and chief engineer at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where the entire album was recorded.
Photo: Bill Ebbesen 2010 (Wikimedia Commons)
This started a four-year creative output of albums and singles that were mainly recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The next album, entitled “Understanding”, was recorded partly at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and partly at American Sound Studio in Memphis (made famous for recording Elvis Presley’s comeback album “From Elvis in Memphis” that became gold-certified). The first single released from “Understanding” was “Woman’s Gotta Have It”. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart week-ending June 17th 1972 (1 week). This was Womack’s first song, co-written with Linda Cooke Womack (daughter of the late Sam Cooke) and Darryl Cater, to go to the top position on a Billboard singles chart since he started recording as a solo artist in the 1960s.
The hit single was recorded at American Sound Studio; personnel on the track included Mike Leech on bass, Reggie Young on guitar, Hayward Bishop on drums and percussion, Bobby Wood on piano and Bobby Emmons on organ and Mike Leech also did the string arrangements. He actually began laying down the track at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio before finally completing the recording in Memphis. Four tracks were recorded in Memphis. The remaining six tracks on the album were recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The B side of the single “Woman’s Gotta Have It” called “Harry Hippie” became a favourite for black DJs across America, which helped the single sell in excess of one million copies, bringing a gold disc from the RIAA on February 14th 1973. It peaked at number eight on the same singles chart listing as the number one single from the album.
The following album “Facts of Life” produced another major hit for Womack, with the single “Nobody Wants You When You’re Down and Out”. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles Chart in 1973. The album also charted at number six on the Billboard Hot Soul Albums Chart that same year. Womack obtained another one million seller with “Lookin’ for a Love”, gold-certified on April 8th 1974. The song was extracted from the parent album “Lookin’ for a Love Again” which reached number five on the Billboard Hot Soul Albums Chart that year and became Womack’s best performance so far while he was collaborating with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section over a four-year period during the early to the mid 1970s.