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Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Music from Old Men

March delivered several new releases from some older rock stars - David Bowie, Eric Clapton, and Boz Scaggs in particular.  Since Bowie's first album in 10 years naturally got a lot of publicity (has he run through the $55 million he got from securitizing his songs and albums?)  and since Clapton is probably worth more even than Bowie, given his recent sale of a Gerhard Richter painting for $34 million (although you have to deduct Sotheby's commission and taxes to come up with his take, which I would bet does not exceed $15 million), I want to spend a minute on the highlights of Boz Scaggs's release, Memphis.

First, his voice, unlike so many other senior citizens, has held up well over over time (he's 69 this year).  It still is a very distinctive mixture of tenderness and roguishness, Rod Stewart without the sandpaper, or a more limited-range Al Green, and the voice betrays no more breaks or wavers in it than decades ago.

Second, the material on the album plays to Boz's strengths, with several mid-tempo R&B/soul covers, including an Al Green song, naturally enough, where you can hear the similarities between them, and the minor 70's hits "Love On A Two-Way Street" and "Can I Change My Mind", the latter of which I quite like.  He also covers a couple of up-tempo songs from Mink DeVille a minor late 70's garage band, and offers up a strong blues number called "Dry Spell".

I thought the best songs on the album were the tenderly sung folksong "Corrina, Corrina" and his nicely understated version of "Rainy Night in Georgia", a perfect match of material to vocalist.  

I did not know that Boz and his wife have a certified-organic vineyard in the Mt. Veeder Appellation in Napa, where they grow syrah, grenache and mourvedre and make Rhone-style wines. Unfortunately their website provides no information about tastings, but it's something to look into.

Boz is supposed to start touring in support of the album.  Recent review here.