"I am not a jazz singer. I wouldn't place myself on that footing. I wouldn't even enter that arena" - Boz Scaggs
This was Boz Scaggs’ second album, released in 1969 on the Atlantic label, and was almost a complete commercial failure, which was a pity, as its blend of soul, rock, pop, Americana and a sort of country-ish jazzy feel was really impressive, especially for 1969. To be honest, there is not a huge difference between some of the more soulful material on this and the hit 1976 album Silk Degrees, minus the country rock from this one (and four big hits from that one, of course). The backing musicians are no other than the Atlantic Records Muscle Shoals studio session musicians.
I’m Easy opens things up with a thumping, brassy groover, backed up by some woo-ooh gospelly female backing voices.
The winsome Now You’re Gone taps into the contemporary trend for gentle, melodious country rock while the vaguely McCartney-esque Finding Her is a quirky, staccato slow one. It utilises some classical-sounding keyboards and a waltz beat together with some jazzy syncopated percussion to great effect.
Loan Me A Dime, for some reason, is deafeningly loud in comparison to the album’s other tracks, with a huge pounding drum sound and a deep as hell bass. There is also considerable tape hiss that makes you think your speakers are packing up. It features Duane Allman on some unsurprisingly fabulous blues guitar and is twelve and a half minutes long in true end of the sixties indulgent (but ultimately forgivable) fashion.
The final track, Sweet Release, is a wonderful piece of Van Morrison-esque white soul. It almost could be the man himself.
This album was a sort of of AOR soul/rock offering before it was invented. Maybe this went some way to inventing it. It was a shame it didn’t do the business, but you can sort of hear why - while certainly not bad, it is not edge of your seat good either. I can listen to it and think “hmm that’s ok” but I don’t think “wow” either. That said, listening to it, I realise that Scaggs had something and that the music he was recording was well ahead of its time, both in its quality and its white soul vision.
Scaggs is pictured below with co-producer Jann S. Wenner (right).
This was the album, from 1976, that brought Boz Scaggs to people’s attention, although it was actually his seventh outing. The year, and through to 1977, was ideal for this sort of music to succeed, for although punk had taken its hold, it still had not broken into the mainstream and this sort of easy listening pop/soul/funk was very popular. Its breezy, soulful sounds brings back memories of the hot summers of 1976 and 1977. As white soul/rock goes, it is a classic of its genre and was always a credible album to name-drop if you wanted to show what great taste you had, along with Warren Zevon and Little Feat. Even into 1978-79, punks and new wavers still had time for artists like Scaggs and Zevon.
What Can I Say was the album’s first really big hit (top ten in the UK in January 1977) and it was a perfect mix of laid-back pop funk and Philly-style string-backed soul.
What Do You Want The Girl To Do? also has an Elton John influence in its immaculately-produced rocking soul.
Lowdown was also a minor hit single and remains a soul funk favourite that will make it on to playlists on dedicated soul shows and no soul aficionado will object. There is a bit of Latin Hustle disco flute twittering around on here too.
Love Me Tomorrow is a slightly funky soully number and then we get one of my all time favourite mid-late seventies singles in the infectious, horn-driven glory of Lido Shuffle. I am sure the song borrows slightly from Bruce Springsteen’s Kitty’s Back in one of its horn riffs though, the instrumental break near the end.
The album ends with the sumptuous ballad We’re All Alone, a beautiful song that became better known through Rita Coolidge’s version, which was a big chart hit. It is a staple of “romantic rock ballads” compilations.
All these years later, Scaggs is still recording but despite some excellent albums he never really bettered this, commercially.
Lowdown/Some Things Happen/Just Go/Love TKO/Fade Into Light/Harbor Lights/Lost It/Time/Sierra/We're All Alone/Simone/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.
Just Go is just a wonderful, slow, romantic and sensitive number.
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.
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.
Stick this on as a late night album, it can't fail.
Gone Baby Gone/So Good To Be Here/Mixed-Up, Shook-Up Girl/Rainy Night In Georgia/Love On A Two Way Street/Pearl Of The Quarter/Cadillac Walk/Corinna, Corinna/Can I Change My Mind/Dry Spell/You Got Me Cryin'/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?
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 I said you can trust Boz. You can’t really go wrong.