Home | Audio Reviews |Audiophile Shows | Partner Mags News

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

Boz Scaggs
But Beautiful

Review by Todd Warnke
Click here to e-mail reviewer

Boz Scaggs  But Beautiful

CD Numbers: Gray Cat - GCD 4000 

 

  Although known primarily by his state-of-the-art blue-eyed soul hits, Boz Scaggs has always shown respect for his musical roots. On his first album he covered Jimmie Rodgers and crafted an epic twelve minute, down and dirty blues classic with Duane Allman. Other early albums covered country, R&B and early soul with equal ease. Even his mid '70s commercial hit, Silk Degrees, included jump-blues, while his late career hit and arguably finest album, 1997's Come On Home, is nothing if not a graduate level course on '40s and '50 R&B. And so it was with a fair amount of anticipation that Scaggs fans looked forward to But Beautiful, an album of ten pop standards from the '30s and '40s. The songs here represent the zenith of songwriting and so would seem to be perfect for a voice that has deepened with time but that has lost none of its drive and sex appeal. On the other hand, these songs have also been the nadir of many an unprepared vocalist and it appears that Virgin, Scaggs label for his last four albums, may not have seen a good match here as Scaggs saw, who produced the album and also released it his own label, Gray Cat. The short take is that both Scaggs fans and Virgin have something to point to here. Let's start with the Virgin side of the ledger.

Scaggs' vocals have always joined a sophisticated and worldly sense of love and its perils to an off-the-cuff ease - the perfect blend for cool soul, R&B and the blues. On the other hand, classics of popular song such as "What's New", "How Long Has This Been Going On?", "Sophisticated Lady" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" are among the most covered tunes of all time and demand depth of interpretation to stand out in a field that includes the very finest vocalists, arrangers and performers. It is this depth that has always stood in the way of the casual crossover artist and would seem to argue against Scaggs as well. To his credit, Scaggs does not go out of his way to alter his basic approach to a lyric as he takes on these songs with the same balance as in his previous work - laidback and yet with knowledge of the road - and that gives his versions authenticity even as this style tends to lighten the underlying text. For an example, take the opening track "What's New?". The lyric supposes a chance encounter and Scaggs delivery captures that element perfectly, however he does so with a touch less heartache than, say Billie Holliday. An even cleaner example is "I Should Care". Here the lyric is more pensive and while Scaggs brings excellent voice to the song, he also stays just beyond the emotional center of the tune.

As for the positives, foremost may be the backing quartet. Paul Nagel, arranger and pianist, leaves plenty of space for each player to be heard and develops a lovely, intimate club feel with his background comping. John Shifflett on bass shows restraint and taste while Jason Lewis on drums sets perfect time. The unexpected player is Bay area newcomer, Eric Crystal on sax. Without slipping into triteness, he adds perfectly placed filigree to each song. The quartet and Scaggs show their best on the title song, where everything clicks. Scaggs approach is the perfect line for these lyrics, just enough longing tempered with experience to sell the emotion, and when Crystal solos, it is with exquisite delicacy, and this against the backdrop of a totally locked in rhythm section.

But Beautiful is far more successful than not, and on that rather large continuum between Rod Stewart recent assault on the Great American Songbook and Joe Williams creating it, Scaggs lies a lot closer to Williams than Stewart, which is hopeful indeed. There is much here to enjoy, and much that hints at further and even higher joys to come.

 

 

Enjoyment: 82

Sound Quality: 90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

Quick Links


Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews

 

Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Preamplifiers
Amplifiers
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc

 

Superior Audio Archives
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews

 

Videos
Enjoy the Music.TV

 

Columns
Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles


Show Reports
High End Munich 2019 Show Report
AXPONA 2019 Show Report
Zagreb AV Show 2019
CanJam Singapore 2019 Show Report
Salon Audio Montreal Audio Fest 2019
Florida Audio Expo 2019 Show Report
Warsaw Audio Show 2018
New York Audio Show 2018 Report
Capital Audiofest 2018 Report
Copenhagen HighEnd 2018 Show Report
Australian Hi-Fi & AV Show 2018
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest RMAF 2018
CanJam 2018 Denver RMAF
KL International AV 2018 Show Report
High End Munich 2018 Show Report
AXPONA 2018 Show Report
CanJam SoCal 2018 Show Report
CanJam NYC 2018 Show Report
Click here for previous shows.

 

Other
Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty

 

Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions

 


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information

 

Partner Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HIFICRITIC
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
NOVO (CANADA HiFi)
STEREO Magazine
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine

 

For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics

 

Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!

 

Social Media & Video
      

 

 

 

       

Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us

 

All contents copyright  1995 - 2019  Enjoy the Music.com
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.