ARTIST: Roberta Flack
TITLE: First Take
YEAR RELEASED: 1969
CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 US R&B, #3 US Jazz, #47 UK
SINGLES: Compared to What, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (#1 US, #4 US R&B, #14 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably not.
LINEUP: Roberta Flack, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ron Carter, Ray Lucas, other session players
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Soul / jazz singer/pianist records first album and it’s a masterpiece, but remains rather unheard in the non-jazz world until Clint Eastwood plucked a track into a movie.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Beautifully sung, and played, with arrangements that are quite fitting to the songs, this album introduced Flack to the world. At first, it was just the jazz world. She got respect, gigs and got to keep recording.
Then, Clint Eastwood wanted a song for his movie Play Misty for Me. He chose “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. That some burned through the charts in 1972, changing Flack’s career trajectory forever. People flocked to buy the single AND the album, sending it to #1 almost three years after release. The thing is, the song fits in with the album perfectly.
What people heard was an immaculate album, with spot-on arrangements, great vocals, excellent song choices, and an aura of a quiet evening at a club with your love.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was written by Ewan MacColl, noted songwriter, actor, playwright, poet and activist. It was written in 1957 for Peggy Seeger, who was MacColl’s lover at the time.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: A+: Perfect jazz soul. I never heard the whole thing before I reviewed it. This is why I’m doing this project – to find albums like this.