Two of the greatest feel-good, easy listening albums of all time are Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Boz Scaggs’ Silk Degrees, both of
which came out within a year or two of each other in the mid-1970’s, an era which was a fertile period for such music.
Silk Degrees (1976) has proven to be the most enduring of all the albums produced by Scaggs, a highly talented and versatile, but hugely (and sadly) underrated guitarist and musician, who had previously worked with the Steve Miller Band. Scaggs had jumped ship from that band when he decided to go it alone, and made the switch from r’n’b to producing his own strand of smooth, silky jazz-funk, a genre which was enjoying some considerable commercial success at that time. He set up stall with a bunch of excellent session musicians (most of whom were to go on to later form the acclaimed band Toto), a combination which was to prove, along with his own undeniable talent, the main motivating force behind the polished, classy quality of his albums.
Scaggs had produced a number of albums before Silk Degrees, but this was the one which skyrocketed him to the top of the “absolutely must listen to” musical charts. There are so many good tracks on this album, which produced no less than three chart-topping singles – the sublime What Can I Say?, the sultry Lowdown, and the catchy floor-filler Lido Shuffle. But I rate the equally catchy It’s Over and Georgia just as highly as the three singles, two tracks so good that they should also have been singles themselves. The album also provided a couple of excellent ballads, Harbor Lights and We’re All Alone, the second of which which was later to be a massive hit cover single for Rita Coolidge.
I originally bought Silk Degrees on vinyl way back in the early 1980’s, and more recently also bought the remastered 2010 CD edition, which contains several bonus tracks, including live versions of What Can I Say?, Jump Street and It’s Over, all of which are also excellent, and show just what a force Scaggs and his group must have been on tour.
I can listen to this amazing album over and over and over again, and I never get fed up with it. If you are a fan of soulful, silky-smooth jazz-funk, and you’ve never heard Silk Degrees, you are missing one of the true classics of the genre. Do yourself a huge favour, go out and buy this great album, pour yourself a cool drink, and just sit back and let the music flow over you.