CD Review - Perf 7.5 / Sound 8
Also available in a 3-pack with SLOW DANCER and SILK DEGREES.
With 1974's Slow Dancer, produced by Johnny Bristol, Scaggs recast himself as a more R&B-infused singer. 1976's multi-million-selling Silk Degrees found Scaggs' switch paying off commercially, displaying enough skills and chops that the odious "blue-eyed soul" tag was deemed passé. This is noticeably more detached than Silk Degrees. And although this set is indeed quirky, the often unsurprising production featuring almost-on-cue guitar solos makes this album more "mainstream" than it had to be. "Still Falling for You" kicks the album off and sets the standard for the skilled, seamless production juxtaposed to meandering, almost incoherent lyrics. The melodic "A Clue," the best of the released singles, attains the offhanded cool and tunefulness that most of this set is striving for. Although this set is more soulful throughout than Silk Degrees, nothing sticks out like "What Can I Say." More than anything, this album puts the spotlight on Scaggs' romantic views, but they are so all over the road it's hard to tell what he really thinks. On the lush "We're Waiting," a listener may not have an idea of what he's talking about, but his vocal inflections say what the lyrics fail to. After a while, Scaggs seems to give up on making this a statement about love and offers some so-so rockers. In particular, the strongly produced "1993" has Scaggs imagining a drastically changed world as he sings, "Before they take me up/They'll have to alter, alter me." Down Two Then Left has a melancholy appeal much like Al Green Is Love and Joni Mitchell's Hissing of Summer Lawns, but a few concessions prevent this from being in their elite class. ~ Jason Elias