When people speak about versatile musicians, they don’t come too much more versatile than Boz Scaggs. Choosing the top 10 Boz Scaggs songs means there is likely to be a range of genres and styles. No bad thing.
Boz is one of the few singers who can maintain a great tone and pitch despite the variety of styles. He can sing Rock as well as he can sing Jazz. He sings Pop as well, as he can sing Blues. You might say a vocal tone that fits all styles.
Did You Know?
One of the greatest bands ever on the planet came together because of him. When recording his album Silk Degrees, he handpicked the musicians he wanted to play. David Paich on keyboards, David Hungate on bass, and the mercurial Jeff Porcaro on drums. You might know the names. Those three already knew each other and had already collaborated on Pretzel Logic by Steely Dan.
They joined Scaggs’s band for the tour to promote his album. It was on that tour that the idea hatched that the three could form their own band. That band became Toto. David Paich later said that Toto might not have happened without Boz Scaggs, the Silk Degrees album, and the tour.
Scaggs, of course, had been around for quite a while before that album…
He released his first solo album in 1965, Boz, and then another, Boz Scaggs. In between those albums, he was a member of the Steve Miller band and played on the album Sailor.
Boz’s solo career started in the early 70s. But, it was with the album Silk Degrees in 1976 that he finally broke through. Let’s take a look at some of the best Boz Scaggs songs on those 70s and 80s releases.
Top 50 Boz Scaggs Songs
We Were Always Sweethearts
His first single at the start of what we could call his ‘solo’ period from the album, Moments. Released in 1971, it reached #61 on the American chart and #40 in Canada. An uptempo, almost Soul-like song. Plenty of keyboards, brass, and even a mellotron, as well as a nice flute solo that completes the sound.
It is an interesting start, and as we said earlier, this will be an example of the variety he shows through his music. Scaggs wrote the song, and it was produced by British producer Glyn Johns.
I’ll Be Long Gone
And so, to our first genre change. This, to me, sounds like a dose of “Memphis Soul,” complete with great backing vocals. It is a track taken from the 1969 album Boz Scaggs.
His vocal performance on this song has what some people call the “blue-eyed soul” sound. There is a nice tempo that is pushed along easily by the drums, bass, and piano, along with some bluesy organ and guitar.
It’s not often that you hear a white singer generate a real bluesy feel to a vocal, but he does here. The music is completed by quite a short but tasteful sax solo. An excellent track all around. The song was not released as a single, which is a shame; it was written by Boz Scaggs.
Moving on in time a little now to 1980 and his album, Middle Man. This was quite a successful album for Scaggs, reaching #8 in America. However, it only got to #52 in the UK and was his last album to make the album chart there.
Scaggs wrote the song in conjunction with David Lasley. Lasley was a well-known songwriter and vocalist. He was a touring musician with James Taylor and Dionne Warwick, as well as working with artists like Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield.
Once again, another change in style. This is a slow Funk/Jazz-influenced track. “JoJo” is a song that demonstrates his considerable abilities as a songwriter as well as a performer. “Cool” is the best description that can be applied to one of Boz Scaggs’ best songs. Was there a cooler track in 1980 by anyone else? Doubt it.
Another change of direction for “Mr. Versatile.” This is a later track taken from an album released in 2003, But Beautiful. He took some criticism over this album of Jazz standards and was described as a “jazz lightweight.” Certainly, this is an attempt to play some jazz. The song, the arrangement, even down to the upright bass. All the parts are there.
It is a song written by Bob Haggart and Johnny Burke that opened the album. He had dabbled in some Jazz-inspired rhythms and arrangements before. However, this seemed to be a more serious attempt to join the jazz party.
As I said, he took some criticism, and it could be argued he is not a great jazz player or singer. Does that matter? Boz is just a good guitarist and vocalist who loves jazz and wants to play it. He is not claiming to be Wes Montgomery or Django Reinhardt. I can’t see anything wrong with that.
But don’t let explanations reduce the content of this track…
The instrumentation is quite nice, and his vocals are very good. And there is some great sax work going on over some “Cool Jazz” piano. What is there not to like? One last thing, it reached #1 on the American Jazz chart. Couldn’t have been too bad then, could it?
Full-Lock Power Slide
A much more of a Rock style to this track with that sort of intro that tells you what is coming. The only thing is, it doesn’t. It becomes a different song after the intro. While it retains its power chord style, the melody is somehow contrary to the slightly edgy feel of the song.
It was taken from the album, My Time, released in 1972. “Full-Lock Power Slide” was not released as a single, and the album only reached #138 on the American album chart. However, for those who like him in a more Rock mode, this is one of Boz Scaggs’ greatest songs.
Loan Me a Dime
This is going back in time again to the Boz Scaggs album of 1969. This is Scaggs, in his inimitable way, doing what he does best. It is a 13-minute epic that seems to have an extra tinge of something to the Blues feel that is so prevalent. If someone asks you about Scaggs, then give them this to listen to.
The song features several “friends” from studios who have joined in. On guitar, there is Duane Allman, and the great organ part is played by Barry Beckett.
This is a great example of how he can move effortlessly between genres. A very good, evocative Blues vocal performance. A stylish song in every respect. And make sure you don’t miss the first guitar solo.
Flames of Love
Interesting percussion and bass hold the attention early on this track, taken from the 1971 album Boz Scaggs & Band. Not the kind of song that was ever going to be a solo commercial success. But, it is a very powerful track encompassing a range of good things. Even the drummer is allowed a passage in the middle. And the bass line, while basic, is very effective all the way through.
Scaggs could take songs that others might have added too much to and keep them simple. He keeps the groove, and whilst there is plenty going on, nothing detracts away from the core of the song.
Our first visit to the album Silk Degrees from 1976. This was his most successful album both in America, where it reached #2, and in the UK, where it peaked at #20. And it is our first opportunity to listen to the future Toto keyboard player, bassist, and drummer supporting him.
The drums and bass start this off, and you would be excused for thinking you might be listening to Thin Lizzy or another Rock/Blues band. By the time the guitars come in, the pace is set, and you know just what you are going to get.
This is such a great song and could easily have been my top choice for the Top 10 Boz Scaggs songs. Pulsating rhythm from the “Toto Boys” but with a great hook set over the top. Great songwriting and great playing.
Let’s stay with the album Silk Degrees from 1976, which many would agree was his best. We have listened to tracks where Scaggs has moved seamlessly between genres. This one is quite different. It seems to include them all.
You could call it a Pop song in some ways, especially for its time. But this has quite a bit more than just a plain mid-70s Pop sound. You can sense it’s leaning towards a jazz feel, but there is a mix of soul and R&B as well. Furthermore, you could say there was plenty of the early Toto in this track. David Paich, David Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro all played on it. Paich provided the arrangements.
There were serious doubts that, despite all the work that went into the track, it would be suitable for a single. They needn’t have worried. It reached #28 in The UK, #2 in Canada, and #3 in America. Some interesting lyrics as well that are even more relevant today, “You ain’t got to be so bad, got to be so cold – This dog-eat-dog existence sure is getting old.”
We’re All Alone
It’s not surprising that the top three Boz Scaggs songs on my list come from what I consider to be his best album by a long way, Silk Degrees. And here we have one of the most well-known Boz Scaggs songs ever. Nowhere else to end, is there? An outstanding song that, incredibly, was hardly a commercial success for him. Franki Valli recorded it in 1976, and it didn’t click either.
It wasn’t until the great Rita Coolidge released it in 1977 that it was the success it always should have been. She included it in her hugely successful album, Anytime, Anywhere, but it was the single that was the real success story. Her version reached #6 in the UK and #7 in America.
We can talk about the consummate skills of Boz Scaggs as a musician and a singer…
…about how he can switch effortlessly between genres and produce great tracks in all of them. But we should never forget the quality of the songs that he wrote, and this is one of them. One of those songs that never seems to age as some do.
In many ways, “We’re All Alone” is the archetypal Pop song that would be a success in whatever decade it was released. A great way to finish a look at the best songs by Boz Scaggs.
Breakdown Dead Ahead by Boz Scaggs
Miss Sun by Boz Scaggs
Georgia by Boz Scaggs
Harbor Lights by Boz Scaggs
Heart of Mine by Boz Scaggs
Look What You’ve Done to Me by Boz Scaggs
Love T.K.O. by Boz Scaggs
Middle Man by Boz Scaggs
Some Change by Boz Scaggs
Slow Dancer by Boz Scaggs
I Just Go by Boz Scaggs
Ballerina Girl by Boz Scaggs
Runnin’ Blue by Boz Scaggs
Can’t Stand the Heat by Boz Scaggs
Cadillac Walk by Boz Scaggs
Rainy Night in Georgia by Boz Scaggs
Do Like You Do in New York by Boz Scaggs
Time by Boz Scaggs
It’s Over by Boz Scaggs
As the Years Go Passing By by Boz Scaggs
Ask Me ‘Bout Nothin’ But the Blues by Boz Scaggs
The Night of Van Gogh by Boz Scaggs
You Got My Letter by Boz Scaggs
Pearl of the Quarter by Boz Scaggs
Angel You by Boz Scaggs
Just Go by Boz Scaggs
Do What You Want, Be What You Are by Boz Scaggs
You’re Not by Boz Scaggs
Sick and Tired by Boz Scaggs
You’re Invitation by Boz Scaggs
Jump Street by Boz Scaggs
Gotta Get Out by Boz Scaggs
1993 by Boz Scaggs
Love Me Tomorrow by Boz Scaggs
Gone Baby Gone by Boz Scaggs
You Can Have Me Anytime by Boz Scaggs
Pain of Love by Boz Scaggs
Hollywood by Boz Scaggs
Waiting for a Train by Boz Scaggs
Ain’t Nothin’ New by Boz Scaggs
Looking for More Great Music from the 70s?
Well, check out our thoughts on the Best 70s Songs, the Best 70s Rock Songs, the Best 70s Rock Bands, the Most Famous Singers Of The 1970s, and the Most Famous Female Singers Of The 1970s for more incredible song selections.
Also, you need to hear them. So, take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best iPhone Earbuds, and the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones you can buy in 2023.
Top 10 Boz Scaggs Songs – Final Thoughts
Up until 2018, he was still releasing solo albums that were doing reasonably well. For an artist to still be producing albums that people are buying sixty years after his first is some achievement. If you are impressed with what you’ve heard and want to hear more, The Essential Boz Scaggs and Greatest Hits Live will interest you.
A man who contributed to so many styles of music is very hard to find. But Scaggs crossed the genres and produced great stuff in all of them. For me, what is just as important is the quality of the songs he wrote. That guarantees him a place in the list of one of the very best.
Until next time happy listening.