Boz Scaggs’ ‘Light’ to shine at MontBleu
August 8, 2008
More than 40 years into his musical career, Boz Scaggs seems especially determined not to fade into darkness.
As a matter of fact, the singer, due to play Saturday, Aug. 9, at the MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa, is fresh off the domestic release of “Fade Into Light.” The album has been a favorite for Scaggs aficionados willing to pay high prices for the import version from Japan, and now it’s available here.
“It started with the song ‘Fade Into Light,’ which I wrote for the soundtrack to a Japanese film,” Scaggs said on his Web site. “The record company in Japan wanted to expand it into an EP and then a whole album, so I got all the musicians up to Skywalker Ranch for about a week. And the album just came out of playing in the room. We set up, and it just evolved. We played ‘Lowdown,’ and we played ‘We’re All Alone,’ and then we kept going, and the songs we used were the songs that worked.”
“Fade Into Light” contains the album on CD and a DVD with enhanced audio as well as live performances of “Lowdown,” Harbor Lights” and “We’re All Alone” from Scaggs’ session at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
“I just let the musicians explore the songs, and I tried to get the best out of them,” said Scaggs, who collaborated with Ray Parker Jr. to cover Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO” for the album. “To a great extent, I’ve always worked like that in my recording: I hire good musicians and let them express themselves. What you hear on this album is those guys in that room at that time.”
The new release spans three decades of Scaggs’ career. The musician was born in Ohio as William Royce Scaggs, according to Wikipedia, and grew up in Texas, where a classmate at the prestigious St. Mark’s preparatory school nicknamed him “Bosley.” It was at St. Mark’s that the 12-year-old Scaggs met Steve Miller and became the vocalist for his band, the Marksmen. The two would go on to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Scaggs would appear on the Steve Miller Band’s first two albums.
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Scaggs landed in London in 1965 and spent the next couple of years traveling the continent in the “dharma bum” tradition, according to the biography on the musician’s Web site. Scaggs passed through Sweden (where he released his first album), India and Nepal before returning to the States and landing in San Francisco in 1967. After making two albums with Miller, Scaggs released his self-titled U.S. debut in 1967, featuring the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section and Duane Allman.
After he moved to Columbia Records in 1971, a string of releases demonstrated Scaggs’ increasing interest in R&B music. After releasing “Middle Man” in 1980, he took a break from the road before returning in 1988 with “Other Roads.” Virgin released his blues collection “Come on Home,” which netted Scaggs a Grammy nomination.
Scaggs started his own label, Gray Cat, home to his “Greatest Hits Live” and “But Beautiful,” on which he joined forces with a jazz quartet to take on American standards.
“It opened up a whole new set of challenges for me,” Scaggs said. “It’s sacred ground as far as I’m concerned, and the more I got into it, the more I realized how little I know.”
Another album of standards is in the works, but Scaggs is shining the spotlight on “Into the Light.”
“I’ve always just tried to explore the music that means something to me,” he said. “I had a period where I had hits and sold a lot of albums, but I wasn’t really aiming for the pop charts with those albums. I was exploring the area I love, which has always been rhythm-and-blues music, and a lot of those songs got on the radio because at the time, they were close to the mainstream.
“And I now know that I might be out of the mainstream, but I’m still exploring the music that I love.”