Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Womack & Womack, "Baby I'm Scared of You" (1983)


This comes from a terrific concept album, Love Wars, which has always seemed to me much greater than the sum of its parts, a lovely and ingenious suite of songs mostly by husband and wife Cecil and Linda Womack seriously taking on the gritty of long-term commitment to a relationship. Keeping it real. They came with pedigrees too: Cecil is brother to Bobby Womack, who both performed with three more of their brothers as the Valentinos and enjoyed a close association with Sam Cooke. Linda is Sam Cooke's daughter, and Cecil's second wife after Mary Wells. I say the album is greater than the sum of its parts, but "Baby I'm Scared of You" is definitely one of the best parts. It was not only the biggest hit they got out of the album (#34 on the R'n'B chart) but kind of a basic self-contained statement of style and principles for it too. The whole thing takes a minute or two even to start winding up but in the end it's glory all the way to the horizons. A gentle, meandering dance of advance and retreat, gradually stoking its fires until they burn both hot and tender, buoyed by a cracking sharp rhythm section, lush harmonies in the backing vocals, and all the unexpected feints and dodges the music takes in imitation of the dialogue going on here. She doesn't want a Houdini escape artist. He claims to be a magician. She's talking about love and security. He's talking about sex. They are talking past one another in all the ways we know. But they are committed to this thing, connected and locked into it, eye to eye, and the result is a deep groove simmered over 5:38 that ends up delivering on everything: warm, loving, and sexy, as pure an expression of the joy of connection as I know. The whole album plays like this multiplied by a few times.

No comments:

Post a Comment