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In a world immersed in disco, Boz Scaggs creates a classic of blues, pop and rock that remains fresh for decades

Music Review: Silk Degrees by Boz Scaggs

In 1976, Boz Scaggs released the album Silk Degrees. The album reached number two on the U.S. Pop Album Chart. This marked the high point of Boz Scaggs' commercial career highlighted mainly by the song "Lowdown."

In a time surrounded by the early disco movement, Silk Degrees was a cross genre mix of blues, jazz, pop and rock. The album itself has a tight coherence pulled together through the production of Joe Wissert and the writing of Scaggs and Toto leader David Paich. That and the fact that future Toto members David Paich, David Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro are all part of the core band give it its professional touch.

Silk Degrees is actually Scaggs' sixth solo album after leaving the shadow of the Steve Miller Band. Because of the onset of the disco movement, the album almost got lost and left undiscovered by the radio tastemakers. It wasn’t until a Cleveland R&B disc jockey took a chance on a tune from the first song on side two. That tune, “Lowdown,” turned the tables and the album took off. From there it spun off two other hits: "Lido Shuffle" and "What Can I Say," which eventually translated to a sellout world tour.

This version of the album, now a CD, is marked as the thirtieth anniversary edition. Along with the originally released tracks, there are three live tracks added to the mix. The tracks — "What Can I Say," "It's Over," and "Jump Street" — where recorded August 15, 1976, at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. They are previously un-released versions. Of the three, I like "Jump Street" the most, followed by "It's Over" and then "What Can I Say," which sounds a bit rushed compared to the original .

The liner notes are also enhanced to include thoughts of and insights into the creation of this classic album as well as insights to four of the songs. One segment begins "When he entered North Hollywood's Davlen Studio in 1975 to begin work on his sixth album, Boz Scaggs still had some basic questions to answer." You can tell his career was at a turning point and that he had to take charge if he was going to make it. A successful album was not a sure thing. By the time that "Lowdown" had won the Grammy for best R&B song, his success was assured.

I liked this album for its wonderful blend of musical tones and rhythms as well as the crystal clear voice. Of course, it has the three hit songs, but moreover it has other classics such as “Harbor Lights,” “Georgia,” “Jump Street,” and “What Do You Want the Girl to Do,” which really make this a complete hit CD. If you are a '70s fan, a fan of soulful R&B then Silk Degrees is a must have.

Silk Degrees Song Listing

What Can I Say
Jump Street
What Do You Want the Girl to Do
Harbor Lights
It's Over
Love Me Tomorrow
Lido Shuffle
We're All Alone

Live tracks

What Can I Say
Jump Street
It's Over

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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