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Boz Scaggs & Band Album Review

Boz Scaggs & Band
Released: 1971
Record Label:
Columbia
  

Tracks

1 Monkey Time
2 Runnin' Blue        
3 Up to You              
4 Love Anyway              
5 Flames of Love              
6 Here to Stay              
7 Nothing Will Take Your Place              
8 Why Why              
9 You're So Good

Boz Scaggs - Boz Scaggs & Band

Boz Scaggs & Band is a clean, natural blend of blues, R&B, rock and country styles with some spicy Latin touches–a pulling together of Scaggs' experience with the Steve Miller Band, Mother Earth and others, but without a hint of false or forced eclecticism. Like Mother Earth, he grasps both country music and rhythm and blues with assurance and ease. Avoiding for the most part those careful but uninspired imitations of, say, R&B form and style that are little more than many performers' clumsy dues-paying, Scaggs prefers to dig to the root feeling of the music and reinterpret it in his own way.

Consequently, his best songs are not framed in any particular style, but they evoke the richness of all his influences–especially the very real emotional qualities of country and R&B–giving his music an unexpected depth. In the same way, Scaggs doesn't affect a gritty snarl or lilting twang in his singing (although he seems naturally closer to the latter). Instead, his voice, slightly raw and wispy around the edges, full of aching, appealing qualities, carries the song unpretentiously and effortlessly. With no sense of pushing for effect or hard-driving intensity in the singing, the songs move in on you gradually, at a relaxed pace, and the total hold they have on you in the end is all the more surprising.

Everything here is fine, but it's side two that I keep coming back to. "Here to Stay," a beautifully liquid love song, begins like a spring morning with vibes, light guitar and a thin curl of electronic sound and opens into a delicate wash of music with just the right touch of Latin percussion. Boz sings, "Lovin' you makes more sense/Than keepin' up/Or payin' rent/Anytime." Scaggs' lyrics are loose, often elusive, not from any failed attempt to be "poetic," but rather, I think, because he lets the ideas drift and flow with the music. A few lines in the second cut, another love song titled "Nothing Will Ever Take Your Place," seem to deal with this: "Thoughts and daydreams fill the air/They fly around like birds/And I can sing you melodies/–Not just sound like words." He can.

"Nothing Will Ever Take Your Place" has a delicacy similar to that of the opening cut, with some fantastic organ work (by Jymm Joachim Young, whose work throughout the album is outstanding) and an especially lovely organ and flute break. But with Boz Scaggs, the impression of delicacy doesn't mean the song dissolves into a soft center of mush; there's more real strength here than on most Heavy Blues albums. The use of horns here and elsewhere is particularly sensitive, avoiding the blaring, sharp edges that stick jaggedly out of so many other bands' work. Production on these two cuts, my favorites, is by Boz Scaggs; Glyn Johns handles the rest with equal precision and flair.

"Why Why" at 5:32 is the longest cut and one of the more blues oriented, chugging along with fine bass, guitar and organ out front, underlining Boz's pleading question, "Why why why must a good love go bad?" Although the vocal cuts out almost half way through, the Band is so tight and so firmly into the song–not slipping off into irrelevant riffs but sticking within a breaking and re-forming pattern–that the attention doesn't drift for a second. The eight-man band, with Scaggs on guitar, is joined by Chepito Areas (timbales) and Mike Carrabello (congas), formerly with Santana, on the side one closer–the hot, Latin-flavored "Flames of Love." Otherwise, they carry the album alone and in fine style; I can't think of a rock band with brass that I've enjoyed as much. A final note: the opening cut, "Monkey Time," is not the Major Lance original but a crazy Boz Scaggs dream/dance song that's almost as much fun. Try it. You'll like it.

- Vince Aletti / Rolling Stone (RS 99) / Jan 6, 1972

Boz Scaggs & Band

Although most listeners know Boz Scaggs primarily for his 1976 disco-era, multi-million seller Silk Degrees, he produced several excellent recordings in the years leading up to that breakthrough. Boz Scaggs & Band is the middle release of a three-disc spurt which Scaggs produced in a two-year period, between 1971 and 1972. Although it is weaker than Moments and My Time which bookend it, this album still has much to offer. Sounding at times like the original average white band, and at other times like a bunch of Nashville cats, Boz and his eight-piece group traverse a wide terrain with great facility and much soul. "Here to Stay" is particularly appealing, hinting at things to come, and "Flames of Love" is an extended piece of smoking funk. "Monkey Time" and "Why Why" also turn up the funk. This album is well worth checking out.

~ Jim Newsom, All Music Guide

Boz Scaggs & Band (1971)

Boz Scaggs’ second album, and his only one for Atlantic, "Boz Scaggs", is a minor classic. His version of Fenton Robinson’s "Loan Me a Dime" on that disc features some blistering guitar work from Duane Allman, and for that reason alone it should be in everyone’s collection. Boz Scaggs & Band was his fourth release, and his second for Columbia Records. His first Columbia disc, Moments, mixed enjoyable MOR rock with blues, country, and jazz, and this follow-up is similar. But it’s a tighter record, and avoids the sappiness that sometimes creeps into Moments. "Here to Stay" and "Nothing Will Ever Take Your Place" are romantic, mid-tempo rock tunes that Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett could have covered without embarrassment.

The two standouts are "Running Blue" and "Why Why." The first is a big-band blues track with a horn chart Neil Hefti would have been happy to present to Count Basie. Scaggs is smooth and urbane, more Jimmy Witherspoon than Muddy Waters, and Doug Simril’s guitar solo avoids clichés. "Why Why" is also blues-based, with a simple structure that fills in as the song develops. A subtle horn arrangement supports Scaggs’ understated vocals, and blends beautifully with Jymm Joachim Young’s swirling Hammond organ. Doug Simril turns in another beautifully constructed solo. Whatever happened to this guy? I Googled his name and couldn’t come up with anything. He plays everything from blues to jazz to country with ease.

Although it’s these two tunes that still cause me to pull Boz Scaggs & Band from the shelf, I end up listening to and enjoying every track. Even in the ’70s, Scaggs was unusual in not forcing an emotion when he sang. In 2003 he recorded an album of standards, and he sounds more natural singing such songs as "What’s New?" or "Sophisticated Lady" than anyone of his generation. Listen to Boz Scaggs & Band and you’ll hear why.

- Joseph Taylor

After the burnished, mellow Moments, Boz Scaggs put some grit back into his music with this third album, Boz Scaggs & Band. Not that he got down and dirty -- his blue-eyed soul and funk are still sleek and stylish, music for uptown parties rather than downtown juke joints. But Scaggs gave his band equal billing on the title here because the band members carry equal weight on Boz Scaggs & Band. It's a true band album, showcasing the group's tight interplay as much as it does Scaggs' vocals. Sometimes, the band almost dominates the proceedings too much, as on "Runnin' Blue," where the group is as splashy as a Vegas big band. Such excesses are balanced by the nimble "Up to You," this album's irresistible foray into country -- something that was a regular Boz feature at this point -- and the brief, breezy "Here to Stay," helping to keep things light and casual. But the best thing about Boz Scaggs & Band is hearing that band play, particularly on "Flames of Love" and "Why Why," where the group gets down low, playing funky rock and soul that hold their own with Little Feat's Meters-inspired grooves.

~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide
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