Record #413: Boz Scags – Silk Degrees (1981)

One of the strange things about classic rock radio is that the songs the stations play aren’t always the best representation of the albums they were cut from.

For instance, if you were expecting Silk Degrees to sound like “Lido Shuffle” throughout, you’re in for a few surprises.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that this isn’t as much a glam rock record as “Lido’s” Eltony shuffle would suggest. The musical center of this record is actually a bit closer to disco and soul. Strings, horns, and a lush choir join Boz on a number of tracks as he croons his way through the tunes. “It’s Over” co-opts classic R&B so much that I was surprised to see it’s an original and not a Supremes cover.

It’s often given slapped with a Blue-Eyed Soul tag, which accurately describes the Motowny instrumentation and the way Boz’s inflection often mimics Diana Ross. But it glosses over how firmly his tongue is pressed into his cheek as he transcends the cliches of the genre. Throughout the record, his delivery seems to be thumb over to Michael McDonald as if to say, “this guy, amiright?”

Which isn’t to say the album is devoid of any heart. Even in his more self aware moments, Boz manages to maintain his earnestness. “Harbor Lights” is as gorgeous a ballad as anyone has ever made. “Lowdown” is a big, cinematic soul blowout. And by the time “Lido Shuffle” comes around, it’s almost out of place.

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