Monday, 3 June 2019

Boz Scaggs


The albums covered here are:-

Fade Into Light (1996/2005)
and Memphis (2013)

Scroll down to read the reviews.

FADE INTO LIGHT (1996/2005)

1. Lowdown
2. Some Things Happen
3. Just Go
4. Love TKO
5. Fade Into Light
6. Harbor Lights
7. Lost It
8. Time
9. Sierra
10. We're All Alone
11. Simone
12. I'll Be The One       

Released on 19th November 1996 (Japan)
Released on 27th September 2005 (US)

For some reason, this superbly soulful, soothing album was released twice, nine years apart. Either way, it is a masterpiece of smoochy, romantic soul/AOR. Scaggs is rarely mentioned as a master of the genre, but he truly is. This appealing album is proof.

Scaggs uses many musicians on the album and the quality shines through on both their playing and the sound quality.
Lowdown is a deliciously laid-back piece of soul/slow burning soft rock, featuring some Sade-style late night saxophone. Scaggs' vocal is appealing mellifluous and supremely soulful. Some Things Happen has an infectious, rhythmic guitar and gentle percussion intro. Once again, Scaggs is seductively attractive on his vocal and perfect for late night radio. The Lighthouse Family's vocalist had a similar voice. The backing vocals interplay with Scaggs on the chorus is sublime.

Just Go is just a wonderful, slow, romantic and sensitive number. Love TKO is a Bobby Womack song previously covered by Teddy Pendergrass which Scaggs does highly credible justice to. The soul feeling on here is peerless, as indeed is the guitar work. Fade Into Light is a classic Scaggs ballad with that distinctive We're All Alone-sounding vocal. Harbor Lights is a gentle piano-powered ballad with a real jazzy feel to it and a lovely deep stand-up bass sound. It has an excellent piano/bass/drum instrumental bit at the end.

Lost It is just beautiful - slow, romantic and sensual. Check out that heavenly organ break too. Time continues in a laid-back, vaguely Latin American acoustic guitar-driven groove. The song breaks out into a fast-paced bit of bluesy rock half way through, impressively. There is a great wah-wah guitar solo on it too. Sierra is simply delightful, airy, melodic and breezy in a very late seventies Al Stewart way. Once again, some fantastic guitar brings the track to a close.

Scaggs revisits his huge hit We're All Alone in slightly unplugged style, with just him, the piano and some subtle strings. It is simply a marvellous song and needs little further comment from me. Simone is a samba-influenced slow ballad. It is a bit Chris Rea-ish. I'll Be The One washes over you in a very laid-back, waves on the shore fashion. It utilises some contemporary r 'n' b scratching soinds on the backing, probably unnecessarily.

Stick this on as a late night album, it can't fail.

MEMPHIS (2013)

1. Gone Baby Gone
2. So Good To Be Here
3. Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl
4. Rainy Night In Georgia
5. Love On A Two Way Street
6. Pearl Of The Quarter
7. Cadillac Walk
8. Corinna, Corinna
9. Can I Change My Mind
10. Dry Spell
11. You Got Me Cryin'
12. Sunny Gone               

Some artists just don’t let you down. They are honest artists who release honest music and have been doing so for years. Boz Scaggs is one of those artists.
There is a wonderful Memphis soul feel to this album. Just listen to the first two tracks, as Boz evokes Al Green. That organ backing on Gone Baby Gone and the drum sound and Boz’s Green-esque vocal on So Good To Be Here. Oh and did I mention the horns? The beautiful laid-back soul groove of Love On A Two Way Street is intoxicating. Can I Change My Mind is a lovely piece of relaxing late night soul, while Dry Spell  features some searing Chris Rea-style blues slide guitar. You Got Me Cryin' is a good slow blues too.

As a huge Mink De Ville fan, I was interested to hear the covers of one of my favourites, Mixed Up Shook Up Girl and the swamp-rock-ish Cadillac Walk. Boz does them justice. As he also does Steely Dan’s New Orleans-inspired Pearl Of The Quarter. Covers of Rainy Night In Georgia (which has to be covered well, or not at all) and Corinna Corinna, where he sounds like acoustic Bruce Springsteen, are similarly impressive. Sunny Gone closes the album in reflective, slow jazzy mood.

As I said you can trust Boz. You can’t really go wrong.