Category: Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack – Chapter Two

ARTIST: Roberta Flack 220px-Chapter_two_album

TITLE:  Chapter Two

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: US #33, #4 R&B, #2 Jazz

SINGLES: Reverend Lee, Do What You Gotta Do (#117)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: She covers Just Like a Woman, Let It Be Me and The Impossible Dream

LINEUP: Roberta Flack, Eric Gale, Donny Hathaway and session bassists and drummers.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from Flack (released before her huge breakthrough) is a little less jazzy and more about interpreting pop standards and other songs with a lounge R&B feel.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The voice is still impeccable, and moving. Yet this second album from Flack falls short of her debut mainly because the material, while more popular and mainstream, is less adventurous.

There are some definite highlights, such as the singles and the closer “Business Goes on As Usual”. But her take on “Just Like a Woman” extended too long, and some of the standards put her in definite lounge singer category. Which is what she was when she was discovered, it’s just a shame because she could do much more than that. Even when it’s not loungy, like on “Gone Away”, the production goes the other way – it’s too busy and takes away from Flack.

Still, it’s a well-sung album that is good for late-night listening. I was just hoping for some more jazz adventures this time.

NOTES & MINUTAE: Donny Hathaway was a college friend of Flack, and they would form quite a musical partnership through the 70’s.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION:  No

GRADE: B. You can’t fault Flack’s voice. You can question some of the material and arrangements, though.

Roberta Flack – First Take

ARTIST: Roberta Flack Flack.first.take
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.