SIGIHT (Song I’m Glad I Heard Today): Boz Scaggs “Near You”

Namedrop Boz Scaggs and most immediately think of one, maybe two songs; the songs that radio have kept alive for nearly forty years, namely “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle.” Both are examples of Seventies pop perfection, aided by the impeccable session playing of the future members of Toto (especially drummer Jeff Porcaro).

Peter Griffin knows.

Half a decade before the multi-platinum “Silk Degrees” album turned Scaggs into a bona fide music star, the one-time Steve Miller band guitarist/vocalist churned out a succession of modest-selling blues and soul flavored LPs. The first of these albums, a 1969 self-titled one-off for Atlantic, sold poorly but featured amazing instrumental work from guitarist Duane Allman and the vaunted Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.  Critics praised the album but it did not sell.

It would take another label (Columbia) and a new band comprised of old Steve Miller cohorts and Santana sidemen to bring forth his second solo work, “Moments,” nearly two years later.  Scaggs and company continued in the soulful vein of tracks from the previous album like “Sweet Release” and “I’ll Be Long Gone.”

My only frames of reference for Scaggs up until that point were his pop hits of the late 70s, his contributions to the first two Steve Miller Band albums, and the aformentioned 1969 debut. The Song I’m Glad I Heard Today, “Near You,” is a particularly arresting hippie soul track, heavy on piano, organ and female backing vocals.

If a 70s Columbia album had this font, it probably wasn’t a metal album.

In recent times, I’ve resurrected my vinyl setup at home and have been slowly but surely getting back into acquiring the more obscure titles that are hard to find in compact disc form these days.  This past Friday I was thumbing through the delightfully random selection at Portland’s Electric Buddha and this Scaggs album was a must for a mere five bucks.  The whole things holds up well, even if the album cover uses that cheesy “Loggins and Messina Font.”  Seriously, how many Columbia album titles used this font in the early Seventies?  This is shit only I lay awake at night wondering about.


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