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Sunday, 17 May 2015

Alphabet Beats #131: S is for...Scaggs as in Boz

S is for....
(artwork for the 1965 album)

If there's one thing I have learned all the years I have been listening to music (and it's a lot of years!) it is that is always a wrong move to be tied up in a musical straight jacket. Any casual observer of this blog will discern that there is a wide range of musical styles embraced. I don't think I have ever posted something that I didn't like just to appear being cool or anything like that. What gets posted on Soundtrack4life is the music in big ways and small ways that moves me.

And so with that in mind let me tell you a little story!

Today's choice of artist is one that I have a real affection for. I knew of Boz Scaggs back when I was a kid and his 'Silk Degrees' album was riding high in the charts and his singles 'Lowdown', 'What Can I Say' and  'Lido Shuffle' were hits here in the UK between 1976-77. After that I couldn't have told you much more about him as any music that followed failed to make a dent on the UK Charts (both Albums and singles - though one single, 'Hollywood' did break into the Top 40 stalling at #33 in 1978).

Anyway, a few years back I was listening to an album by Steve Miller Band called 'Bingo' (released in 2010) and a bit like Boz I remember him from when I was a kid with singles like 'The Joker', 'Take the Money and Run', 'Rock'n Me' and 'Fly Like an Eagle' (all released between 1973-76). After being impressed with 'Bingo' it led me to look back at some of the albums that Steve Miller Band had released over the years and that exploration, to use a baseball term, 'hit a home run'.

Much to my surprise I discovered that Boz Scaggs had played guitar and sang on the first two Steve Miller Band albums, 'Children of the Future' and 'Sailor' both from 1968. This brought to mind afresh my casual affection for the 'Silk Degrees' album that I hadn't listened to in more than 20 years and in turn led me to go backwards on the career of Scaggs and then forwards from 'Silk Degrees' to see what I missed and of what interest it might be observing the musical growth of an artist. That little study actually threw me for a loop because there was loads of stuff that I really enjoyed. Here endeth my story!

But there's one more story to tell quickly...

 (Photo by Michael Frawley)

In brief here's the story of Boz Scaggs. At aged 12 he's learning to play guitar and meets Steve Miller. in 1959 he becomes the lead vocalist for Miller's band The Marksmen. The pair attend University together and continue playing in bands. After leaving University Scaggs ends up in London getting into the growing Rhythm and Blues scene but with little success he's next off to Sweden and in 1965 records his debut album (12 tracks in a single day - 30th September). The album was released but was a commercial failure. It was released under his own name William R. Scaggs and entitled 'Boz'. The album by the way is outstanding and actually sounds very unlike a lot of the music that was getting released back in 1965.

In 1967 he's back in the USA, San Francisco to be precise, and he's hooked up with Steve Miller again. Recording two albums (as mentioned above) with Miller and then securing a contract with Atlantic Records at some point in 1968. His major label Debut 'Boz Scaggs' gets recorded at Muscle Shoals and features Duane Allman on guitar! It didn't sell so well and he moved onto Columbia Records. His fifth album for them hit the big time - #2! Another two hit albums followed and then he disappered for 8 years! Albums that followed 'Other Roads' explored the Blues and Jazz. His 2013 album 'Memphis' was critically acclaimed and a successful tour was undertaken. In 2015 he would release another fantastic collection that included guests Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams.

Okay, I know, too much talk and not enough music so here we go. 

Click on the links to enjoy the music
The Music
Boz (1965)*
Boz Scaggs (1969)
Moments (1971)
My Time (1972)*
Slow Dancer (1974)
Silk Degrees (1976)
Middle Man (1980)
Hits! (1980)
Other Roads (1988)
Come On Home (1997)
Dig (2001)
Speak Low (2008)
Memphis (2013)
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