Boz Scaggs talks about his lost album
Nearly everyone knows Boz Scaggs thanks to his mega-smash album “Silk Degrees,” which came out 40 years ago this March.
The R&B-fused pop masterpiece sold 5 million copies in the Bicentennial Year and gave the world one of the funkiest bass lines ever with the slinky, Grammy Award-winning hit “Lowdown.”
So, “Silk Degrees” needs no introduction.
Ask a casual music fan about Scaggs’ album “Dig” and you’ll get a blank stare. That’s too bad, according to the singer.
“I think it is the best record I’ve ever made,” Scaggs said during a brief telephone interview on Tuesday.
Even though “Dig” was loaded with such radio-ready songs as “Payday” and “Miss Riddle,” the album got lost thanks to the unfortunate timing of its release date: Sept. 11, 2001.
“That was a big factor,” Scaggs said. “The record label had an extensive publicity campaign set up and the budget was all paid for, the ads were paid for. Then came 9/11 and everything went out the window, of course. That’s the breaks. I was pretty disappointed. ... I’m sorry it didn’t see the light of day.”
When asked if he ever considered re-releasing The Great Lost Boz Scaggs Album, the singer shrugged it off as being too expensive to market and sell for a second time around.
“It’ll just be what it is,” Scaggs said. “Perhaps, finally it will be seen for what it is. But that’s just the way it is.”
Who knows if Scaggs will dig through his “Dig” catalog when he performs on Friday night at the amphitheater in Cascades Park. Tallahassee’s talented and quite capable Sarah Mac Band is opening the show.
“You can expect a broad cross-section of my work,” Scaggs said. “I have a very versatile band and they can play a very broad mix. We can stretch it in any direction.”
Scaggs, 71, has plenty of material to pick from, too, because his professional music career spans six decades. He grew up in small-town Oklahoma listening to rock ‘n’ roll, pop and R&B on the radio during the ‘50s. After his family moved to Plano, Texas, he met a classmate in school by the name of Steve Miller. Yes, the same Steve Miller who will be playing “The Joker” and “Jet Airliner” with his band in Tallahassee later in July. Scaggs chuckled slightly when asked what Miller was like in high school.
“We really don’t have time for that discussion, it would take way too long,” Scaggs said. “Another time.”
After college, Scaggs recorded his first solo album, “Boz,” in 1965 but it made no dent in the charts. By 1967, he moved to San Francisco just in time for The Summer of Love and landed a job playing with The Steve Miller Band on its first two albums. The next year, Scaggs was recording his second solo album, “Boz Scaggs,” with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which included a young guitarist named Duane Allman.
During the early ‘70s, Scaggs released four more mildly successful albums until lightning hit with “Silk Degrees.” Scaggs said the title of the album was almost an afterthought.
“It was just something I had scribbled on the side of a page,” Scaggs said. “The last thing I do after I record an album is name it. ... It (‘Silk Degrees’) doesn’t mean anything specifically. It’s just an image I couldn’t get out of my head.”
During the recording of “Silk Degrees,” Scaggs recruited session musicians David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, and David Hungate. They later formed the hit band Toto (“Africa,” “Rosanna”).
The signature song “Lowdown” developed in a very organic way when Scaggs and Paich sat down to brainstorm through some musical sketches and ideas.
“We were sitting in a room with a piano and we were just rolling through some riffs and we rolled across the two-bar phrase and I started singing along with it and that became the chorus,” Scaggs said. “It just took it’s own coarse. At the time, it was a fairly uncommon groove. It was more R&B than pop music at that time, which seems funny now.’
The hits just kept coming for Scaggs in the late ‘70s with “Lido Shuffle,” “Hard Times,” “Breakdown Dead Ahead,” “Jojo” and “Look What You’ve Done To Me.” By the early ‘80s, he was burned out and went on a hiatus until his “Other Roads” album in 1988.
In recent years, Scaggs has shifted his focus to being a vocalist with such albums as “A Fool To Care,” which reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s blues chart in 2015, and “Memphis,” which reinterpreted such old hits as “Rainy Night in Georgia” and “Love On A Two Way Street.”
“It was recorded at the classic Royal Studio in Memphis where Al Green, Hi Records and (producer) Willie Mitchell produced a lot of hits in there,” Scaggs said. “It’s a classic room that hasn’t changed in all these years. He (Mitchell) left the room and the acoustics as it is. We went there for the sound. ... There’s a lot of history in the walls. You can feel it when you walk in the door.”
Posted: Sunday 24 April 2016