Boz Scaggs Music Community


Boz Scaggs Album Review - MEMPHIS - 2013

Excellent Collection of Songs by Boz
March 5, 2013
By Christopher Alexander

Memphis is the first album/CD we've had from Scaggs in quite some time. This doesn't mean he hasn't been active on the music scene, however, as he was recently touring with Michael McDonald and Donald Fagan. I caught one of those shows and Boz was on his game the entire time; just as he was the eight other times I saw him perform live.

If what you think of when you hear the name, Boz Scaggs is `Lowdown,' `Lido Shuffle,' and `We're All Alone,' then you've really been missing out on what Scaggs has been putting out since then. This is especially true of late, such that his newer songs don't sound like those at all. Thus, if you're looking to pick up where you left off with Silk Degrees by purchasing Memphis, you'll be disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you've followed Scaggs' career through the years, you will find that this album brings us full circle--albeit with a more mature and solid voice--back to how he was performing in the pre-Silk Degrees days. Here, we have flavors of `Moments,' `My Time,' and `Boz and Band.' You will also hear a lot more `Come on Home' sounds than those of `Silk Degrees' or the albums that immediately followed. This is especially true with the song `So Good to be Here,' a number previously recorded by Al Green.

In a variety of ways, the spirit of Al Green (yes, I know he's still alive) influences this whole album. I believe it was even recorded in a studio used by Green years ago. This influence and relationship is a long one, as both Boz and Al recorded `Old Time Lovin' long before `Silk Degrees' hit the market. In fact, while you're buying this CD, make sure you download Scaggs' version of that song (oh, ok, get Green's too).

This current album has 12 tracks, only a few of which were familiar to me. Scaggs offers a mellow, smooth rendition of `Corrina, Corrina'--in contrast to how it was performed by Dylan, BB King, and others. His version of `Rainy Night in Georgia' is ok, but it's been recorded by so many people, I wish he would have found something else to slip into that slot. Just hearing Scaggs sing `Love on a Two Way Street' is worth the purchase of the CD.

Consistent with some of the sounds from the `Coming Home' album--or more recently, what we heard from Scaggs on the Chris Gaffney Tribute CD--this album fits into the `smooth, mellow jazz' classification. In many ways, however, it's really hard to classify, as you will hear blues, R&B, jazz, and Boz--a unique combination that defies description. `Mixed Up/Shook up Girl' and `Cadillac Walk' are two of the peppier songs on this album, but if you're looking for spice, don't expect `What Can I Say' or `Breakdown Dead Ahead.'

Overall, it's great to have something new from Boz to listen to. I don't foresee these songs dominating the airwaves the way some of his earlier work did, but it's still a great album, with good flow, clean sound, and Scaggs' voice throughout. It's a nice CD to listen to while driving or to have in the background while at home. I can't imagine that anyone will be disappointed with the purchase of this CD and it's one you'll likely play on a regular basis.

Boz...Smooth As Ever, I Mean Smoooth
March 5, 2013
By To The Max"Bax"

It's been a while, approximately 5 years since his last release, the jazzy "Speak Low" CD which had an R&B feel to it like previous "Silk Degrees" offering from years gone by. This new release takes us back in time, Memphis represents the best of all extremes,(from soul to jazz and the R&B in between) a set of 13 well-chosen soul tracks (including two originals), backed by legends of the music city that lends the album its title.

I read...

"Recorded at Royal Studio, site of Al Green's greatest sessions, producer/drummer Steve Jordan captures an early '70s vintage sound from a crew of classic hands, including Spooner Oldham on electric piano, Ray Parker Jr. on guitars, Willie Weeks on bass, the Memphis Horns, and string arranger, Lester Snell. The result is one of Boz Scaggs' most satisfying collections of his solo career."

This can be a complicated journey at times with plenty of genre jumping, crooning, reggie, Delta blues, ballads, R&B to name a few. Quite a mixture of covers but as usual Scaggs' musical voice shines, he brings something to this CD that we have never heard before. They're the same warm, subtle sounds found on soul recordings made by Al Green and other artists at Memphis' Royal Studio in the 1970's. "Nobody can touch Green, even four decades later, for pure carnal rapture, but I'll be damned if Scaggs, at least on these cuts, doesn't get right up to the edge of it."

Scaggs' bluesy voice, is still in top shape. "Listen to the way he drops into the music on the opening `Gone Baby Gone' like a soft-speaking ghost who wants to fill you in on his sad, lonely story. It's expert timing by an artist who's made a career out of this sort of thing." Check out Boz Scaggs - Greatest Hits Live

The Royal Studio, brings us back in time, "So Good to Be Here" a deep cut from Green's 1973 album "Livin' for You" and "Can I Change My Mind" a Top 5 hit for Tyrone Davis in 1969, has Scagg's following a similar path to that of Al Green. A borrowed style, but he pulls it off easily. He has also earned the right.

The music takes me back to his 1969 release "Loan Me A Dime", Boz Scaggs featured the muscle shoals Rhythm Section, along with session guitarist Duane Allman on that one. The style of music is very familiar to that great tune.

The bulk of the cuts on the album are sweet, laid back, Memphis soul, with a couple of blues cuts thrown in for good measure. "Rainy Night In Georgia" is soft and unhurried, "Dry Spell" is a slow shuffle blues with Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, "Love On A Two Way Street" is straight-up soft soul and "Cadillac Walk" has a moderate boogie/blues feel to it with some great piano.

The vocal range Scaggs has today is amazing, this is music for the heart, the head and all points in between. In this way, Scaggs has made a triumphant return, after a five-year hiatus between projects. Listen with your heart and try not to over think the music, and Boz will map out a conclusive argument for his place as one of our greatest living soul singers.

There is not one bad cut on the whole CD, too many great tunes to critique but one thing is certain, this will be one of the top releases of 2013. What a start to the year, fantastic.

Boz Dives Into The Deep Waters Of His Roots
March 6, 2013
By Andre S. Grindle (Brewer Maine)

Without realizing it the music of Boz Scaggs has been a great deal more significant to how I view music than I believed it to be. It was not simply a matter of growing up listening to his hits. Somehow,with each new sub-genre of soul and rhythm & blues I explore,seems Boz is always somehow a part of that equation. His vocal style is very unique. His phrasing and tone is so strong and pitch perfect that he can interpret music through the entire spectrum of the soul/R&B musical world. He once spoke of his late 70's breakthrough as his reflection not of a retro sound but what was contemporary in soul and R&B at that time. He explored this vision up into the early 90's,until later in the decade he started to deal with more retro blues styles. While the blues has always been a part of his sound,what of the music that was contemporary during his breakthrough in the 70's? Well with the help of musicians such as bassist Willie Weeks and fellow guitarist Ray Parker Jr.,that is what he does on this album.

Sadly I don't know all of these songs but "Gone Baby Gone" typifies the basic approach of this album-elegantly produced and arranged funky mid 70's style Memphis soul with that quiet fire that defined that area and that era of soul music. "So Good To Be Here" almost spookily channels it's origins in Al Green and,as a result,is one of my favorites here thanks to it's sheer funkiness. "Rainy Night In Georgia" finds Scaggs lowering into his deeper vocal register for a very telling and often tortured vocal delivery-perfect for the Brook Benton classic. Steely Dan's "Pearl Of A Quarter" really gets the deeper southern funk treatment here,far removed from their jazzier take but a superb interpretation as it reinvents the song rhythmically. "Corrina Corrina" finds Boz,again in lower register,on a stark acoustic folk/soul take just him on guitar. And though 'Cadillac Walk","Dry Spell" and "You Got Me Cryin'" are a bit mildly cliched blues for my taste,the dynamic take on the ballad "Sunny Gone" returns back to what this album does best.

So yes this album is very much retro,at least in this time period. And yes it is an interpretive collection. But there are many things that add up to it being one of Boz's strongest releases. For one,with time and age his vocal instrument is every bit as full and strong as it ever was. Not only that but not ever song here owes it's interpretation solely to the original. Some of these songs were very raw in their original versions. The production from Steve Jordan has a very uniform sound as if they were all meant to be on the same album together. On the other hand,the variety of material presented gives Boz plenty of opportunity to be instrumentally and vocally creative with it as well. It's probably the perfect album for Boz Scaggs to be making as he,with all due honesty,enters into his twilight years as a recording artist. While those years could easily reflect decades for someone of his already strong longevity,I can only hope with five years separating this from his previous album,that there will be yet more sweet soul music of many shades to come from Mr. Boz Scaggs.

Boz and Memphis were made for each other
March 6, 2013
By TheNoomz83

In 40+ years I have never been disappointed by a Boz Scaggs album and this is no exception. I'll go further than that and rank this as one of his best for quite some time, as he is completely in his comfort zone with this Memphis project, even if hardly any of the songs are directly associated with that great Mid-South musical city.

Among the finest moments of his career is his stunningly beautiful version of the Moments' melodic number one soul ballad from 1970, "Love on a Two Way Street." This one has got me pressing the replay button every time.

On "Rainy Night in Georgia," a major pop and soul smash by Brook Benton a few months earlier that same year, he goes back a little further with it to its Tony Joe White roots.

Completing his trifecta of #1 soul hits, he takes Tyrone Davis's breakthrough record "Can I Change My Mind" (1969) and wraps his own unique vocal style around it. (This is in contrast to what Mick Hucknall does with Davis's "Turn Back the Hands of Time" on his recent "American Soul" album: Hucknall does a veritable Tyrone Davis vocal imitation on a note-for-note re-creation.)

This project would be incomplete without a nod to Memphis's greatest living soul man, the Reverend Al Green. Wisely, Scaggs chose to cover a 1974 B-side ("So Good to Be Here") that is right in his wheelhouse, instead of doing an overly familiar Green chart hit.

This is an inspired, first-rate, well-conceived-and-produced project from start to finish. (Producer Steve Jordan clearly took inspiration from the late Memphis producing genius Willie Mitchell of Hi Records on a number of tracks.) Hope it's the hit it deserves to be.

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