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May 17, 2018

Hidden Treasure Volume I - Boz Scaggs

Boz Scaggs – Boz Scaggs

Silk Degrees was released in 1976 and catapulted Boz Scaggs onto the national rock scene.  While it’s slick production style makes it hard for me to listen to now, I did like it at the time.  Lowdown and Lido Shuffle were huge hits.  I’ve heard people refer to it as Boz' great debut album. 

Thing is though, it was actually his seventh album.  And his self titled album from 1969 is so much better.  Honestly, I always thought that this self titled album was in fact his debut. But while researching this blogpost, I learned that he in fact released an album four years earlier simply called Boz.  I can’t seem to find out anything about it.  So for my purposes, his debut is the 1969 release Boz Scaggs.  Prior to this release, Boz sang and played guitar for the Steve Miller Band. 

Boz Scaggs was recorded at the famous R&B soul mecca Muscle Shoals Recording studio, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  The primary musicians at the studio were affectionately called “The Swampers” (“  . . . Well Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers and they’ve been known to pick a song or two, lord they get me off so much, they pick me up when I’m feeling blue . . .”)  So that’s who it was recorded with. 

This was back in Muscle Shoals’ early days.  This was before they recorded with everybody on earth who desperately needed a soul infusion.   Oh, and also slide guitar master Dwayne Allman joined in as he did on several Muscle Shoals sessions.  The result is a blued-eyed soul masterpiece that incorporates diverse American music styles.

I’m Easy is the funky opener.  It’s perhaps the one song that foreshadows Boz’ later work.  But it’s less produced then Silk Degrees and has more grit, stinging guitar, brass and a beautiful vocal chorus.  In the inspirational I’ll be Long Gone, the singer is leaving his indecisive lover.  It starts slow with soulful organ and trumpet. “I’ll be long gone by the time you make up your mind”. It builds to crescendo as he proclaims. “I’m gonna get up and make my life shine”.

Of course the romantic tables turn on the album’s showcase.  Boz’cover of Fenton Robinson’s Loan Me a Dime stands as a blues rock classic.  It’s a slow build blues workout that features a stinging Duane Allman guitar lead and soulful Boz vocals.  Boz wails as he begs for a dime cause he need to call his baby (do I need to explain the significance of a dime as it relates to a phone call for those younger readers?).  

The album closes strong with my fave Sweet Release. Another slow build soul stirrer that somehow evokes classic Van Morrision.   Great stuff!

Alan Likes Music