Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this music junkie as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. Compact Discs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no files.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Tom Scott - Blow It Out (1977)/Intimate Strangers (1978)/Street Beat (1979)



UK Import

I discovered Tom Scott in the early '80s through his live album, Apple Juice. I eventually picked up most of his back catalog on vinyl, including these three albums. That made this 2013 BGO set an easy purchase decision. 

Excellent remastering job on these plus a fantastic liner note booklet that includes full credits and original liner notes by Lee Underwood of DownBeat magazine as well as a comprehensive essay by Charles Waring, jazz columnist for Record Collector and contributor to MOJO and Wax Poetics. Well done.

BLOW IT OUT (1977)
8 tracks, 42 minutes


Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by this CD set.

Not much jazz here; it's more like instrumental pop-rock-funklite performed by the finest session musicians in the business including Steve Gadd, Hugh McCracken, Eric Gale, Will Lee, Rick Marotta, Ralph MacDonald, Chuck Rainey, and one of my all-time favorites, Richard Tee who steals the show on many tracks. There's a bit too much use of the Lyricon over traditional saxophone for my taste, but I understand Scott's desire to be on the cutting edge of musical technology. Nevertheless, the whole thing is highly melodic and I enjoy the eight tunes here. 

Reviews/ratings:
  • CashBox: "Scott continues his march into the mainstream"
  • Billboard: "a tender and melodic instrumental excursion"
  • Record World: "an exemplary instrumental lp"
  • The Rolling Stone Jazz & Blues Album Guide (1999): ★
  • The Virgin Encyclopedia of Jazz (1999): ★★

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #87
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #5
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #39
Peak on CashBox album chart: #83
Peak on CashBox Jazz Album chart: #2

Tracks: Track 1, Gotcha (Theme From "Starsky & Hutch"), was released as a (sadly unsuccessful) single, but almost all the tracks are good so I'm not picking favorites on this one. I do recommend skipping track 7, Down To Your Soul, not because it's a bad tune, but rather due to the fact that Scott decides to sing on it.


INTIMATE STRANGERS (1978)
7 tracks, 47 minutes


Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by this CD set.

An odd attempt at a concept album, I really didn't like this album at first listen because the "suite" that takes up side one turned me off to the whole thing. Fortunately for me, I gave the album a few more listens and realized that the second half is quite enjoyable and the first half isn't as bad as I initially feared. The same great backing band as above, but this time there are also contributions from Toto members Steve Porcaro and David Paich, as well as a beautiful cameo from legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius.

Original liner notes here. Album press release below (click to enlarge):


 
Reviews/ratings:
  • CashBox: "Scott's sax and lyricon work is up to his usual highest-quality standards"
  • Billboard: "a multi-textured, multi-mood musical package"
  • Record World: "a skillfully crafted blend of jazz, disco and funk"
  • The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide (1985): ★

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #123
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #6
Peak on CashBox album chart: #123
Peak on CashBox Jazz Album chart: #5

Tracks: Side one is a forced effort to musically describe a one night stand between a saxophone player and "that lovely lady on the front row" complete with occasional canned applause and crowd noise. Taking up the whole of side one on the vinyl album, the suite's three parts are titled Sudden Attraction, A Day & Nite Out Together, and Loving & Leaving.  Not bad even though there's a bit of Scott's singing again; but I greatly prefer what was side 2 (tracks 1-4 on disc two here) which is typical Scott fare. The final track, Beautiful Music, which was co-written by Ralph MacDonald, features a tasty flugelhorn solo from Chuck Findley, and was released as a (sadly unsuccessful) single.


STREET BEAT (1979)
8 tracks, 42 minutes


Note: this release was originally purchased as a LP, later replaced by this CD set. 

Scott wrote or co-wrote all 8 tracks here and, frankly, the material just isn't as good as the other two albums in this set. Scott was writing quite a bit of music for movies and TV shows, so not surprisingly, some of the tunes sound like they come from that genre. One track actually does come from a movie: Car Wars was on the soundtrack to Americathon, a movie I've never seen, but stars such actors as Elvis Costello, Tommy Lasorda, and Meat Loaf.
 

 
Also, this album utilizes a somewhat different set of backing musicians from other albums in this set:

Notes on above credits:
  1. I had to look up what an "ARP Quandra" is and discovered it is simply an analog synth keyboard. 
  2. Notably, Scott brought in other vocalists here. Smart move.
  3. I'm pretty sure that "BS trombone" is an abbreviation for "bass trombone" but can neither confirm nor deny.
Reviews/ratings:
  • CashBox: "diverse, perceptive mainstream jazz offering"
  • Billboard: "He has done better with previous offerings"
  • The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide (1985): ★

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #162
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #7
Peak on CashBox album chart: #131
Peak on CashBox Jazz Album chart: #8

Tracks: The best tracks here are We Can Fly and the title track, the latter of which was released as a (sadly unsuccessful) single.



Previously revisited for the blog:

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