By Jay Piriz
Man, this is one singer/musician/songwriter who has been around the block. Boz Scaggs has been making mostly pop music since, well.... The liner notes describe the compilation of music on this CD as "like trying to draw a line between where the blues and gospel end and where R&B begins; where R&B ends and becomes soul, funk, rock & roll, Stax, Motown, the Philly style, and on and on." This music on this effort is unlike any music you have ever heard from The Boz Man. I never realized Scaggs could be so soulful. "Early In The Morning," by the great Sonny Boy Williamson, is a blues standard; Scaggs delivers his rendition of this tune with pain and sorrow, just the way a great blues song should be.
There are great, classic blues and R&B songs on this CD: "Your Good Thing (Is About To End)" by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, "T-Bone Shuffle" by T-Bone Walker, "Found Love" by Jimmy Reed and the oldie but goodie "Love Letters" by Young/Heyman. The delivery of "T-Bone Shuffle" is a hot mixture of slick guitar work, horns, and a funky driving bass line...just gotta move! The very cool and quick piano work on "Sick And Tired" (Kenner/Bartholomew), is not to be outdone by the mighty horns in the background and the solo sax...from 3:05 on, this tune just cooks and cooks.
The Boz Man intersperses his own homespun tunes among the classics he borrows. "After Hours" is his own thing, a smooth blues tune with a cat on the Hammond B-3 named Dave Matthews. Could it be? Scaggs closes out this CD with "Goodnight Louise," a sweet love song about the "First, not the last, the queen of my past." The tune is spiced up with nice piano and accordion accompaniment.
I really enjoyed listening to this CD. It goes deep into a musical genre that I had not before heard him enter. To sing and play the blues, you gotta feel the blues, and not everyone can feel the blues. The Boz Man sings, plays and feels the blues on this one. The recording is not bad, but not nearly close to audiophile quality. Every now and then, performers click on a project. This is one of those projects where the total listening experience far outweighs any individual piece of the work. After such a long absence from the mainstream, it's nice that The Boz Man is home.
Boz Scaggs - Come On Home
By Jason Cohen / The Backyard / April 29, 1997
Boz Scaggs is one of those timeless draws whose recording career is beside the point. As it happens, however, Scaggs is touring behind what might be his best record in 20 years, the blues- and R&B-covers set Come On Home, so parking spaces at the Backyard were scarcer than a vinyl copy of Silk Degrees. Could there be a better market for Scaggs? Austin loves its blues, loves it adult-alternative radio station and is of a certain demographic (this particular evening was surely a lucrative one for the local baby-sitter population).
Scaggs is a craftsman, an adaptable crooner whose love of Philly soul, Motown and Muscle Shoals runs deep. Working with a tight, occasionally too-slick band that features a four-piece horn section and a pair of slinky female singers, Scaggs was as unfussy and elegant as his tasteful dark clothing. Unlike so many blue-eyed soulmen, he can cover Bobby "Blue" Bland or Isaac Hayes without a trace of embarrassment.
Scaggs also knows how to give the people what they want. The funereal organ of "Loan Me a Dime" got the applause going instantly; it was the first time in years that he had played the blues chestnut, which lacked Duane Allman but still got cooking pretty hot. Of course, both "Lido Shuffle" and "Lowdown" got standing O's. The latter holds up amazingly well, right down to its martial flute and plunky, funky pre-disco bass line. Cooler than anything from the current swing revivalists, it's the Billy Dee Williams of '70s classics: suave, smooth and a little schmaltzy.
Boz Scaggs - Come On Home
You gotta pay your dues to sing the blues, goes the old cliche. But if you're Boz Scaggs, you bear your burdens pretty lightly. With his tangy, delicately weary tenor and his flair for slipping authentic R&B textures into breezy adult-contemporary arrangements, this guy could never be accused of the overwrought soulman posturing practiced by fellow yuppie icons Lionel Richie and Michael Bolton. If Scaggs had just been dumped by his wife and were sitting next to you at a bar, he'd be more likely to give you a meaningful shrug than cry into your beer.
On his new album, Come on Home, Scaggs gives props to the musicians and songwriters who influenced him early on, covering songs by T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed and others. True to form, Scaggs never tries to outemote the masters; instead he maintains a soft, graceful touch, imbuing this classic material with a winning combination of subtle pathos and understated wit. His version of Walker's "T-Bone Shuffle" is gently playful and lean to a fault. Likewise, Reed's "Found Love" is faithfully presented as taut, driving 12-bar blues; and Earl King Johnson's "It All Went Down the Drain" is served with a piquant, Stax-style horn arrangement and a healthy dash of slide-guitar grit.
Ballads such as the wistful standard "Love Letters" and Scaggs' own "I've Got Your Love" - one of four songs on Home written or co-written by the singer - are rendered with equal elegance. That's not to say that Scaggs never breaks an emotional sweat. Singing the radiant David Porter/Isaac Hayes number "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)," Scaggs achieves a moody intensity that builds to a smoldering peak. It's a pleasure to listen to a veteran artist like Scaggs letting his roots show with such unaffected sincerity.
- Elysa Gardner / Rolling Stone (RS 758) / Apr 1, 1997
Come On Home
By Scott Floman
"I've wanted to do this rhythm and blues record for a long time. It's a tribute to some of my heroes, some of the great r&b singers, songwriters, and musicians...I considered a lot of material for this record, and ultimately I chose the songs I like to sing the most."
So says Scaggs in the liner notes, and among the 10 cover songs here are those written or popularized by Bobby "Blue" Bland ("Ask Me 'Bout Nothin' (But The Blues)," "Don't Cry No More"), Jimmy Reed ("Found Love"), Sonny Boy Williamson ("Early In The Morning"), Isaac Hayes/David Porter ("Your Good Thing (Is About To End)"), and T-Bone Walker ("T-Bone Shuffle").
For his part, Boz writes or co-writes four songs, while the terrific title track is supplied by legendary Al Green producer Willie Mitchell (with Earl Randle), who also arranges the horns on the album, which features various session musicians, among them Jim Keltner (drums), Little Feat's Fred Tackett (guitar), and even David Mathews (on organ). But it's Boz's show, and he's in good voice, even though I'd still like to see him sweat a little more at times. Still, this is a very good record that returns Boz to his roots; there's a reason that this album was filed in the "Blues" section of my local library, and certainly the title track, "I've Got Your Love," "Early In The Morning," and "Sick & Tired" all yield stellar results, the latter three in part due to some strong guitar work.
Some of the songs on this ballad heavy collection can be a bit too leisurely, and with 14 songs clocking in at an hour long the album definitely grows wearying over its excessive duration. Still, Scaggs does have a few surprises in store, such as when a harmonica wails out amid the laid back lope of "Found Love," and by and large this album was a well executed idea, as Boz's taste and class are always at the fore on a thoughtful, sincere homage that makes up for in craft and commitment what it lacks in originality and excitement.
By Melinda Newman
The fame that Boz Scaggs experienced in the '70s with such releases as the quadruple-platinum "Silk Degrees" and platinum-plus "Down Two Then Left" was in some ways as inhibiting as it was enriching.
In the whirlwind of success, Scaggs says he forgot his original reason for getting into the music business: his love of music. In fact, it got so bad that Scaggs didn't even keep a guitar in his house.
However, with his new album, "Come On Home," he's returned to his beginnings. The April 8 release is a collection of classic R&B and blues songs of all stripes, many of which influenced Scaggs as a youth.
"I remember hearing (T-Bone Walker's)`T-Bone Shuffle' as I was driving away from my school on a Tuesday or Wednesday night," he says. "I was listening to a radio station that played this kind of stuff and it came on. Something inside of me stirred. There was something that I heard that was a clue about what I would be doing later on."
Always a student of the blues, Scaggs had a wealth of material to consider when he started the project. To aid him, he brought in Harry Duncan, whom Scaggs describes as "an encyclopedia on rhythm and blues" and the provider of an unlimited amount of material. The pair "met regularly two times a week or one time a week, and we sat down across the table and formulated the things we chose." Ultimately, the selection came down to songs that Scaggs liked to sing, and, he confesses, tunes that he could sing.
"In choosing this material, we considered thousands of titles. We ultimately put down a list of hundreds, and I actually made demos of 40 to 50 songs," he says. "I couldn't sing some of these songs, so it became a matter of the ones I could sing as well as the ones I like." For Scaggs, picking the songs was the easy part. The album also contains four songs penned by him. "It was very difficult for me," he says. "It should have been easy as pie, but I found myself tortured over what I could do to lend myself to that genre. It was really difficult to come up with pieces that I could hold up to Jimmy Reed or Bobby `Blue' Bland much harder than writing a typical solo album." Scaggs also encountered difficulty recording the album, which he produced.
"One of the challenges was to bring these songs into the '90s sonically," he says. "So much of the ambience or the atmosphere of these songs had to do with the primitive recording technique people used, and you have to bring it into the modern age, but not lose that atmosphere."
With Come on Home, Scaggs has made a full circle back to his musical point of origin in Texas, listening to radio. "KNOK, KGKO, some nights we got WLAC in Nashville -- they played the essential R&B records, the hits being made those days. WRR in Dallas played the blues -- Delta Blues, New Orleans traditionalist, Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago stuff - the formative ingredients of R&B. This guy Jim Lowe - his show was called Kats' Karavan - he was like a professor. He was a blues aficionado - he taught us everything." The education continued in high school with classmate Steve Miller in The Ardells. Scaggs then kicked around Europe and Asia as a dharma bum and a folk/blues player, recording his first album in Stockholm. Returning stateside, he rejoined The Steve Miller Blues Band for two records before signing with Atlantic Records for his own U.S debut, Boz Scaggs, made with the famed Mussel Shoals rhythm section that featured Duane Allman blazing through "Loan Me a Dime." After that came Moments, Boz Scaggs and Band, My Time, and Slow Dancer; then Silk Degrees, the breakthrough record that elevated Scaggs to star status. "It's still fresh to me, too. Good songs, great fun to make, " he told Rolling Stone nearly twenty years later. Down, Two, Then Left, Middle Man, and Hits followed Silk Degrees, along with some ambivalence for the path Scaggs' successful career had taken. "It had all become a business for me. I enjoy music on a very basic level and I wanted to get back to that." After an eight-year hiatus, he released Other Roads in 1988, joined Donald Fagen's New York Rock and Soul Revue in 1992, and in 1994, with the release of Some Change, made his return complete.
"I felt like I did when I first started playing -- and there's nothing in the world greater than that. When you discover an instrument, a way of using your voice, music that speaks to you - whole worlds open up. It's a state of grace of some kind."
Some Change earned critical plaudits for Scaggs as a songwriter, guitarist, and above all, as a master vocalist. Said Rolling Stone: "Profligate in his command of styles both raw and sophisticated, he has so refined his approach that anything he sings now is marked by an uncommon subtlety and taste. Among top-rank blue-eyed soul singers, Scaggs, with his rootsy grounding remains the sturdiest."
"Some Change was one of the most satisfying records I've ever done," the singer says. "And I found that the music which was rooted in blues and R&B was some of the strongest. So I decided, with Come on Home to take the full plunge." With executive producer Harry Duncan, Scaggs reviewed literally hundreds of potential covers from a list of thousands. "Defining the musical territory was tricky at first, like trying to draw a line between where the blues and gospel end to where R&B begins; where R&B ends and becomes soul, funk, rock & roll, Stax, Motown, the Philly style and on and on," Scaggs says. "Ultimately I chose the songs I liked to sing the most." Come on Home features, among others, drummer Jim Keltner, Little Feat's Fred Tackett on guitar, and legend Willie Mitchell's horn arrangements. "Wilie Mitchell has an extremely astute musical mind," Scaggs says, "as a producer, he knows how to create an environment where the players leave everything but music outside the door and then sink into a groove." With musicians from LA and the Bay Area, Scaggs and crew recorded rhythm tracks in two weeks and then settled in to make music that "retained the original feeling, yet put it in a modern context....therein was the challenge." As he did on Some Change, Boz also stretched out on guitar, playing solos steeped in the spirit of the genre. "That was one of the things that drew me to this music - my love of guitar."
This is the music of hot nightspots and roadshows as well as the Saturday night barbecues and Blue Mondays," Scaggs says, "from the period when the blues had grown up a bit; chord changes had become more complex; more sophisticated instrumentation was introduced." From the New Orleans syncopations of "Sick and Tired" to the club-style delivery of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Early in the Morning," from the title track, a Willie Mitchell original, to the "T-Bone Shuffle," Come on Home showcases a full range of R&B styles.
"Love Letters," originally recorded by Ketty Lester, was introduced to Scaggs when Steely Dan's Walter Becker suggested it for inclusion in the Rock and Roll Soul Revue. "I tried out a Solomon Burke approach to the song." Scaggs says, "slowing it down, singing it very deliberately. I found the lyrics very touching, very poignant." About Jimmy Reed's "Found Love," he says: "Jimmy sang from a very distinct, deep place. And while his music can be seen as the essence of simplicity, it's remarkably complex." "Ask Me 'Bout Nothing (But the Blues)", originally recorded by Bobby Bland, is one of the album's highlights. "He's probably my favorite singer of the genre," says Scaggs. "I've been listening to him as long as I've been listening to this music. It's daunting to attempt one of his songs because his voice is so smooth. He has such a grasp of dynamics and he makes it all sound so easy." "Goodnight Louise," "After Hours," "I've Got You Love," and "Picture of a Broken Heart," all Scaggs' originals, skillfully mine the R&B vein: they're songs whose mood, texture, and musicality hold their own alongside the classics he so commandingly interprets. In the same way, Come on Home stands assuredly alongside the best records of this singer's career, as much a tribute to a rich musical tradition as a testament to Boz Scaggs' place within that tradition.