First Listen: Bobby Womack helped Rustee Allen on final recording

(July 13, 2019) What do you do when you have a role in a historic figure’s final act?  Well, if that figure is Bobby Womack and you add the funky bass line to a tune that turned out to be Womack’s final live studio recording before his passing in 2014, you might want to put that song out.

That’s is what bassist Rustee Allen, himself a significant figure in the East Bay funk scene, did with the tune “That Thing You Do.” Now, Womack fans know that the singer/songwriter was afflicted with a number of health issues in the last years of his life, ranging from diabetes, to cancer to Alzheimer’s. Still, Womack must have had some good days, and the day that he entered the studio with Allen had to be one of them. Quite plainly, Womack sounds as if he entered a time machine rather than a recording studio.

(July 13, 2019) What do you do when you have a role in a historic figure’s final act?  Well, if that figure is Bobby Womack and you add the funky bass line to a tune that turned out to be Womack’s final live studio recording before his passing in 2014, you might want to put that song out.

That’s is what bassist Rustee Allen, himself a significant figure in the East Bay funk scene, did with the tune “That Thing You Do.” Now, Womack fans know that the singer/songwriter was afflicted with a number of health issues in the last years of his life, ranging from diabetes, to cancer to Alzheimer’s. Still, Womack must have had some good days, and the day that he entered the studio with Allen had to be one of them. Quite plainly, Womack sounds as if he entered a time machine rather than a recording studio.

The years seemed to just melt away. That distinctive gravelly voice was there, but so was the range that could soar into the heavens just as he did when singing gospel with his brothers in the 1950s. Womack’s phrasing on the mid-tempo love ballad is on point. When it came to knowing how to massage every word of a love song –becoming an actor who sets the scene in his own love story – “That Thing You Do,” shows that Womack had few peers.

He also had the backing of talents such as Allen, a man who is comfortable sharing time and space with legends. Allen spent several years playing with Oakland legend Johnny Talbot before linking up with the Bay Area’s premiere funk outfit, Sly and the Family Stone - replacing Larry Graham on the bass when Graham left Sly and the Family Stone to start his own group. “That Thing You Do” was also mixed and mastered by Grammy nominated producer Auteria Wally Winzer Jr. The team turns this tune into a fitting tribute for one of soul music’s towering figures. Check it out.

By Howard Dukes

 Rustee Allen  feat. Bobby Womack
"That Thing You Do (Auteria's Mix)"

 
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