tue 22/10/2019

CD: Boz Scaggs - Memphis | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Boz Scaggs - Memphis

CD: Boz Scaggs - Memphis

Mixed bag from seasoned white soulster

Soul man Boz Scaggs returns to the source

Boz Scaggs is one of the greatest white soul men. Endowed with a distinctive silk-lined voice, he has navigated the waters of blues, country, jazz and quality disco with ineffable cool and a pretty consistent hit rate. Memphis, his first album in five years, is a return to the music of the South – in some ways a homage to Al Green - after a couple of gently impressive jazz releases in which he showed he could master the standards canon with delicacy and ease.

The new CD was made with a cast of studio superstars: Ray Parker Jr plays guitar with a deft combination of  minimal intervention and maximum emotional finesse. Willie Weeks is the bass player to whom you turn when you want effortless rhythm delivered with imagination and grace. Steve Jordan, the album's producer, is a relaxed drummer who keeps time with discretion and cool.  And keyboard player Spooner Oldham is one of those Memphis studio veterans who has seen it all, never pumping that Hammond B-3 organ more than just enough to warm the heart and put a gentle swell into the ultra-smooth stew.

In his best albums from the last couple of decades, Some Change and Dig, Scaggs managed the potentially deadening vehicle of a perfect studio band flawlessly. These two releases were inspired explorations of jazz-inflected R & B, each track possessed of a separate identity and the technical virtuosity of the assembled players always at the service of the singer’s heartfelt vocals. These are classic records that still bear listening to time after time. There are moments of equal brilliance on Memphis – an irresistibly seductive version of “Corrina, Corrina”, “You Got me Cryin’” a slow blues in which the emotion burns steadily with a tangible sense of the darkness at the core of all pain, and the swift moving “Cadillac Walk”. Much of the rest of the album rarely rises above a well-lubricated precision that tips occasionally into the greyness of bland. But for Scaggs fans and those who haven’t got the bug yet, Memphis is worth hearing for those tracks alone when he delivers once again something close to perfection.

'Memphis' is worth hearing for those tracks alone when he delivers once again something close to perfection

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.