The Spotlight: Boz Scaggs
By Aaron Richardson
When “Boz Scaggs” came out in 1969, it was something different. Scaggs wasn’t interested in reproducing the psychedelic rock that by that time had gotten stale, and as a piano player/singer, his talents weren’t suited to the new blues rock sounds of Led Zeppelin and Cream. These bands were considered heavy metal at the time.
His brand of music was more like jazz-blues balladry. Solid pop music that met the standards of the discerning ear, but also fit within a three-minute radio slot was the order of the day. Scaggs’s lyrics are not political; do not challenge the listener to act on a certain agenda, nor to love everybody.
Scaggs, like any good pop musician, either laments the loss of the love of a girl or revels in it.
His lyrics aren’t necessarily the same old inane “I loved you but you left me” stuff you might expect. Scaggs crafts his songs to make the incidents he sings about more sinister.
Rather than having been wronged once, Scaggs seems to believe that everything was a plot against him.
At the same time, Scaggs doesn’t just revel in the glory of new love, he glories just as often in victory.
On the track “I’m Easy,” Scaggs sings about how he may be on the bottom, but he doesn’t care. It’s Scaggs’s cavalier attitude that really attracts me to his music.
The first seven tracks of the nine on “Scaggs” lull you into a pop-induced stupor. Track eight, however, is a totally different beast. Gone are the simple piano melodies of the previous tracks.
“Loan Me a Dime” starts quietly, a slow piano-driven blues piece. Slowly, however, it builds to a boil.
This track is a 12-minute blues odyssey, driven by Scaggs’s voice, and the blazing Gibson SG of Duane Allman.
Allman, too, begins his work slowly on the song, but eventually erupts with the ferocity of Mount Kilauea at full boil.
The song changes time signatures and keys several times throughout its 12-minute course.
The only disappointing aspect of the album is the end. First, the magnificence that is “Loan Me a Dime” fades out instead of ending.
As if that was not enough, Scaggs added another song onto the end of the record. He should have known that there was nothing that could possibly follow “Dime.”
The album, in short, breaks the cardinal rule of rock and roll: burn out, never fade away.