I was chatting with some friends this morning about Boz Scaggs and a couple of albums of his that were missing from our collections, one of them being the very hard to find anywhere debut album from 1965 released in Sweden on Karusell Grammofon AB and distributed in the rest of Europe by Polydor International.
The album was originally released under his proper name of William R. Scaggs but was not in anyway a commercial success. Prior to it's release Scaggs was living in London trying to make it with his band The Wigs and little else is known about his time there (the bio on his own website simply states that once his band The Wigs didn't get any success he "decided to travel, living the vagabond life in Western Europe") and he pops back on the musical radar again in 1967 in San Francisco as part of the ever expanding psychedelic scene after receiving a postcard from an old friend, Steve Miller.
Once in San Fran he hooked back up with his old buddy and former bandmate Steve Miller as second guitarist and vocalist (Boz had been the lead vocalist in Miller's band The Marksmen in 1959 and they had also played in Blues bands together whilst at College). He plays on the first two releases by The Steve Miller Band and has vocals on two tracks on each album ('Children of the Future' and 'Sailor' - both released in 1968 and recently reissued CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THEM).
A year later he has parted ways with The Steve Miller Band and he launched out on his own and got signed to Atlantic Records after being spotted by Rolling Stone Magazine owner Jann Wenner (who was to produce his US debut simply titled 'Boz Scaggs' which was released in 1969 and is well known for the fact that Duane Allman plays guitar on it.). The album failed to chart in 1969 but when reissued in 1974 it peaked at #171. Scaggs wouldn't know major success until the release of his seventh album, the excellent 'Silk Degrees' in 1976. That album peacked at #2 and stayed on the chart for 115 weeks! It also spawned probably three of his most famous singles 'Lowdown' (#3 US and #28 UK), 'What Can I Say' (which reached #42 US and #10 UK) and of course 'Lido Shuffle' (#11 US and #13 UK)
Anyway, as I was saying we were talking about this and one of my friends had managed to find a digital copy (it has not as far as I'm aware ever been released on CD or reissued anywhere and this one even has 7 bonus tracks on it! - those bonus tracks turned out to be 6 tracks from his 1969 album) and promptly sent it. Oh boy, I cannot even begin to explain how exciting this was, the prospect of hearing an album that I knew so little about until this morning, and guess what? It did not disappoint.
Twelve tracks recorded in a single day (30th September 1965) and beautiful in it's simplicity. First thing that stunned me was actually how un-Sixties-like the album is. There are touchs of Dylan (not surprising seeing as he covers 'Girl From the North Country' which had first appeared on 1963's 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'), shades of The Everly Brothers and of course Boz's love of The Blues. This album clearly laid the foundation for what was to follow throughout Scaggs' diverse output down through the years.
This album is going to get a lot plays in the coming week. A really nice find and so incredibly fresh even given it's amazing age!
- "Steamboat" - 2:10 (Buddy Lucas) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'Leiber/Stoller']
- "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" - 2:19 (Gary Davis) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'van Schmidt']
- "Girl From The North Country" - 3:33 (Bob Dylan)
- "You're So Fine" - 2:07 (Lance Finnie, Willie Schofield) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'le Vang']
- "Got You On My Mind" - 2:57 (Joe Thomas, Howard Biggs) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'Thomas/Briggs']
- "That's Allright" - 2:07 (Arthur Crudup) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'Allan Lumats']
- "Hey Baby" - 2:30 (Bruce Channel, Margaret Cobb) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'Bruce Chanel']
- "Gangster of Love" - 2:19 (Johnny "Guitar" Watson)
- "Let the Good Times Roll" - 2:17 (Sam Theard, Fleecie Moore Jordan) [Incorrectly listed on the album label as 'Ray Charles/L. Jordan']
- "How Long" - 2:16 (Traditional; arranged by William R. Scaggs)
- "Stormy Monday Blues" - 3:38 (Aaron Thibadeaux "T-Bone" Walker)
- "C.C. Rider" - 2:22 (Traditional; arranged by William R. Scaggs)
In 2013 Boz Scaggs is still on the go. He has just released his first album for five years - 'Memphis' and once again he finds himself going back to the old well of Blues and Soul standards.
Tracklist for 'Memphis'.
So Good To Be Here.
CLICK ON THE LINKS IN THIS COLOUR TO WATCH AND HEAR AUDIO.