By David Chiu
If suave, sophisticated British crooner Bryan Ferry has an American doppelganger, it would be Boz Scaggs, a name synonymous with musical class and soul. But unlike Ferry, whose songs are marked by a sense of romantic detachment and bittersweet irony, Scaggs lends a more rhythm and blues approach in his music. His distinctive voice evokes hot buttered soul capable of handling those funky taut rockers and subdued ballads. Hits!, first issued in 1980, is a mixture of those styles; now it has been repackaged 26 years later (with a more dapper-looking album cover than the New Wave-ish photo of the original release) with five additional tracks. One of the earlier members of the Steve Miller Band in the late ‘60s, Scaggs would later hit the big time with 1976’s smash album Silk Degrees featuring the members of Toto—several of its key tracks are on the compilation including the sweeping and groovy “Lowdown”; the funk continues on with the swinging “Lido Shuffle” and “Miss Sun”; As a balladeer, Scaggs touches without being overwrought as on the aching “Look What You’ve Done to Me” and “We’re All Alone” (famously interpreted by Rita Coolidge); he even breathes some dignity and life into typical MOR pop like “Heart of Mine.” Hits! is a sufficient starting point for those wanting their taste of this elegant soul man.