1976: Boz Scaggs: Silk Degrees: A Review

Boz Scaggs
Boz Scaggs

It's not often I can say that I enjoy every track on a music album, but with Silk Degrees by Boz Scaggs, I can make an exception.

Back in 1976, I did not know who Boz Scaggs was. He was just an unusual name attached to a voice on the radio, singing one of my favourite songs at the time.
I have always enjoyed a lot of soul and funk in my music and his single Lowdown fulfilled that necessity with ease.

The production was somewhat different to the Motown and Philadelphia Sound which I had been used to listening to. The soul was there, but it was tempered with a driving dance back beat, a rock guitar and some sweet strings. This was blue-eyed soul at its best. The Grammy Committee obviously agreed: the track won the Best R&B Song at the 1976 Awards.

Getting more of Boz Scaggs

One song wasn't enough for me, though. Lowdown had captured my attention and I wanted to hear what else Mr. Scaggs had to offer. So, I took a chance and laid out some cash and bought Silk Degrees. This was in the days when everything was on vinyl and for months the record never left my turntable.
While Lowdown hints at rock with its whining guitar, tracks such as (the hit) Lido ShuffleGeorgiaJump Street and What Do You Want the Girl to Do bring it to the fore and identify Boz Scaggs equally as a power pop rocker.

Scaggs mixes it up

These are simply out and out fun tracks that you can imagine having a whale of a time to at a live concert. But Scaggs then cools it down with the more lyrically meaningful and emotively engaging Harbor Lights, together with a song that would later become a huge hit record for Rita Coolidge: We're All Alone.
Other tracks on the album that were popular at the time and which also became memorable hits are: What Can I Say and It's Over.

Rita Coolidge was not the first to record a cover version of We're All Alone

Other acts trying their luck at a hit record with the song were The Walker Brothers, Bruce Murray, Frankie Valli and The Three Degrees.
However it was Rita Coolidge who struck gold, when in 1977 her version entered the Top 10 of music charts worldwide.

I'm won over

Over time, I got to know all of the songs on Silk Degrees inside and out and I soon became enough of a fan of Scaggs' style to purchase the albums that followed: Down Two Then Left and Middle Man. While not as ever present on the music charts back then as Silk Degrees, they still managed to go platinum Stateside, in addition to demonstrating a satisfying progression in his rockin'-soul technique.

Rating 5/5


Intro image by Dwight McCann/Chumash Casino Resort/www.DwightMcCann.com [CC BY-SA 2.5], from Wikimedia Commons

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