Tuesday, 28 March 2017

"Boz Scaggs [1969 Version + 1977 Remix Version]" by BOZ SCAGGS feat Duane Allman, Eddie Hinton and Barry Beckett (2015 Edsel/Rhino 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"...Loan Me A Dime..."

After two albums with The Steve Miller Band in the late Sixties – it was time for the smooth Texan William Royce Scaggs to go solo. He signed to the prestigious Atlantic Records - gathering around him the cream of Muscle Shoals sessionmen (including the Memphis Horns) and set about recording his Bluesy/slightly Country debut album in 1969. Not that the world sat up and noticed. They didn’t.

His debut “Boz Scaggs” was released in the USA in August of 1969 but despite some favourable responses in the press - few in the public eye bought it. After four more albums with a patient Columbia Records between 1971 and 1974 that slowly built interest and chart presence – the Bozter finally found his inner Rock-Funk self and hit global paydirt with his March 1976 LP “Silk Degrees” which spanned massive worldwide radio-friendly hits like “Lido Shuffle”, “What Can I Say”, “Harbour Lights” and “Lowdown”. The album had legs past 1976 too into 1977.

So what with his debut containing rising luminaries like Eddie Hinton, Barry Beckett and especially the established cult guitar-hero Duane Allman in blistering form - Atlantic Records decided to call in Tom Perry to remix and re-launch the debut yet again for a modern day market (it didn’t take 2nd time round either). And that’s where this UK 2CD reissue on Edsel/Rhino comes in – it brings together to the two versions of that debut album for the first time – and in remastered form with superb presentation and new 2015 interviews. Here are the slow starter details...

UK released May 2015 – "Boz Scaggs [1969 Version + 1977 Remix Version]" by BOZ SCAGGS on Edsel/Rhino EDSK 7093 (Barcode 740155709334) is a 2CD set in an outer card wrap and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (Original 1969 Version – see NOTES) (43:35 minutes)
1. I’m Easy [3:04 minutes]
2. I’ll Be Long Gone [4:11 minutes]
3. Another Day (Another Letter) [2:53 minutes]
4. Now You’re Gone [3:46 minutes]
5. Finding her [3:54 minutes]
6. Look What I Got [4:08 minutes]
7. Waiting For A Train [2:38 minutes]
8. Loan Me A Dime [12:29 minutes]
9. Sweet Release [6:13 minutes]

Disc 2 (1977 Remixed Version – see NOTES) (44:48 minutes):
1. I’m Easy [3:01 minutes]
2. I’ll Be Long Gone [4:02 minutes]
3. Another Day (Another Letter) [3:12 minutes]
4. Now You’re Gone [3:50 minutes]
5. Finding her [4:10 minutes]
6. Look What I Got [4:13 minutes]
7. Waiting For A Train [2:40 minutes]
8. Loan Me A Dime [13:02 minutes]
9. Sweet Release [6:20 minutes]

NOTES: Despite what the CDs say – someone has mistakenly placed the versions on the wrong discs – Disc 1 is in fact the 1977 REMIX and Disc 2 the 1969 ORIGINAL. What’s noticeable too from the timings provided above is that Perry slightly edited some of the tracks on the 1977 remix but elongated others by a tiny amount. The most pronounced is the indulgent thirteen-minutes of “Loan Me A Dime” lopped by a half-a-minute (and rightly so in my book). Most of the others have smaller changes – but it’s worth pointing out.

BOZ SCAGGS – Guitar and Lead Vocals
DUANE "Skydog" ALLMAN – Guitars and Dobro
EDDIE HINTON and JIMMY JOHNSON – Guitars
BARRY BECKETT – Keyboards
AL LESTER – Fiddle
DAVID HOOD – Bass
ROGER HAWKINS – Drums

Muscle Shoals Horn Section:
Joe Arnold – Tenor Saxophone
Charles Chalmers – Tenor Saxophone
Floyd Newman – Baritone Saxophone
James Mitchell – Baritone Saxophone on “I’m Easy”
Ben Cauley – Trumpet
Gene “Bowlegs” Miller – Trumpet & Trombone

Backing Singers:
Jeannie Greene, Donna Thatcher and Mary Holiday (on all selections)
Tracy Nelson, Irma Routen and Joyce Dunn on “Now You’re Gone” exclusively and additionally to Green, Thatcher and Holiday on “I’ll Be Long Gone”

There’s a tasty card wrap that lends the whole reissue a classy feel while the 20-page booklet features December 2014 liner notes by noted writer PAUL DYERS and a new interview with original LP producer JANN WENNER which throws light on how rushed the recordings were (Wenner, Scaggs and Marlin Greene produced the LP). There are label repros of the original LP on SD 8239 and lyrics (for the first time I believe) and tremendous photos of the fabulous band – David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, the backing lady singers, the Producer, Eddie Hinton and a naked Duane Allman standing in the woods with a hat on and his hands over his modesties. It’s beautifully done.

The howler mistake of wrong-mix/wrong-CD notwithstanding – all that anyone-can-make-mistake stuff pales against what you actually get here - a superb remaster for both albums (Peter Rynston at Tall Order Mastering). You can so hear how the record feels slightly empty and rushed first time around – and you can understand why Perry paired back the indulgent time length on the bluesy but brilliant “Loan Me A Dime” when he remixed the record in 1977. I actually prefer the 1977 version because it’s tighter and more importantly you can hear the musicianship more clearly – especially Duane Allman. The Dobro on “Look What I Got” (written by Muscle Shoals Sax player Charles Chambers and singer Donna Rhodes) is clearer as are the drums and backing singers. The same applies (times two) with his cover of the Jimmie Rogers yodelling song “Waiting For A Train” – Allman is very clear as is Beckett’s honky-tony piano runs.

I don’t know (even after another listen) if the album is actually any good – there’s a dreadful failure to ignite in too many of his songs – but then you’re hit with the fabulous Blues of “Loan Me A Dime”. Written by guitarist Fenton Robinson – it leads in with stunning organ work from Beckett – so Gospel, Blues and Soul all wrapped up in one. And then we get Duane in his “Skydog” looseness - letting rip on the frets half way in. On the remix his guitar is slightly more to the fore giving it more prominence and I agree completely with shortening the track on the remix (apparently this song is the reason why Wexler told them to close down recording faster and stop goofing around). It ends on “Sweet Release” – a slow six-minute Gospel lurch co-written by Scaggs and Barry Beckett.

With the best will in the world you could hardly call the “Boz Scaggs” album brilliant (it has its moments for sure) and in hindsight it’s easy to hear why it barely registered with the public. Having said that – there’s something about the quality of the remasters on offer here – and the different mixes too – that make you want to look at this record anew.

A superb reissue from Edsel – more of the same please...
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