CD Review of Hits! by Boz Scaggs

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starstarstarstarhalf star Label: Columbia/Legacy
Released: 2006
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David Wild compares Boz Scaggs musically to Steely Dan in his essay for the re-issue of this compilation. Wild points out that the tone of Becker and Fagan is “irony and detachment while Scaggs was offering up grand romance and genuinely sensual intimacy.” Dan and Scaggs absolutely share a musical connection in that their recordings contain a perfect mix of pop, jazz and rock, while the arrangements and musicianship sound almost too perfect. As Wild notes, their lyrical directions couldn’t be more polarized. Steely Dan is bemused by everything and impressed by nothing, while Scaggs is a romantic.

This reissue takes the original ten-track compilation and re-arranges the track order, replaces “You Can Have Me Anytime” with “Heart of Mine” (which was recorded five years after the original Hits! was released) and adds five songs expanding the collection to just over an hour’s worth of material. Scaggs has a soulful voice and his distinctive vocals sounds great on these recordings. These songs are full of that David Foster ‘80s slick production (and hooks). There are tons of appearances from Toto alumni; Steve Lukather played guitar on some tracks, David Paich co-wrote “Miss Sun,” co-wrote three others and added keyboards while Jeff Porcaro played drums. Ray Parker Jr. (yep – who ya gonna call?) was credited with some guitar work and Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmidt of the Eagles provide the lush backing harmonies for “Look What You’ve Done to Me.”

Although Scaggs momentarily morphs into Kermit the Frog as he extends to the very end of his range with “We’re All Alone,” he still manages to make the song sound cool. Rita Coolidge’s version might have been more popular, but Scaggs’ is not to be ignored. “Lido Shuffle” is the closing track on this version, and it should be. Everyone on earth has at least once, during a moment of joy, sung “LIDO, WOOO OOOOOO WOOOO OOOOOOOO!” – and if you haven’t, you should. Singing it will make you feel at least 14% better. This reissue is a great improvement on the original. If you like good, well-executed pop made to please the ear, Hits! will be in high rotation on your playlist for quite a while.

~R. David Smola