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Boz Scaggs – Boz Scaggs – Original 1969 Manning Mix (SD 8239) vs 1977 Perry Mix (SD 19166)

March 11, 2018

This LP is famous for the session guitarist who graces it with his Dobro and slide: Duane “Skydog” Allman. In addition, there is the almost thirteen minute “Loan Me A Dime.” That song was a staple on early 70s progress rock FM radio. DJs liked to cue it up and take a smoke break. It is a great song, not just a long song.

The album was originally released in 1969 on Atlantic and went out of print in the mid-70s. In 1976 Boz Scaggs had a huge hit album with Silk Degrees. I assume Atlantic wanted to ride the wave of Silk Degrees and dusted off this album with a remix by the same engineer who recorded Silk Degrees (Tom Perry). The original was mixed by Stax Records’ engineer Terry Manning (uncredited).

I recently purchased an LP of the remix not realizing it. I had an LP of the original in poor shape and I assumed this was an upgrade. When I dropped the needle and sat down and examined the jacket I realized this was a remix. I pulled my old copy and sure enough it was an original Manning mix. Most of my experience with this album is via the CD, which is the Perry mix. I was unaware there were two versions of this album. This is not going to be a straight album review, but a comparison of the two versions with the goal of crowning a champion. I know I come to the table with a familiarity bias towards the Perry mix.

The Spotify version is the Perry mix:

I just picked up a cleaner copy of the Manning mix to make it a fair fight.

“I’m Easy”  The Perry mix is vastly superior. The Manning mix is muddy and distorted. The Perry mix is crisper and has more separation. This will become a recurring theme.

“I’ll Be Gone”  Is a quieter song than the first cut. Similar to “I’m Easy” the crispness and separation Perry mix wins out.

“Another Day (Another Letter)” is a ballad, that with a different arrangement, that would not have sounded out-of-place on Silk Degrees. Clearly Perry is giving it the Silk Degrees treatment. However, I like the more organic Manning take.

“Now You’re Gone” sounds better with the cleaner Perry mix. All the unique instrumentation gets a bit lost in the Manning mud.

“Finding Her” benefits from the softer Manning mix – especially the songs ending: a gorgeous Duane Allman guitar solo. The Perry mix is a bit to sharp.

“Look What I Got” Although the background vocals are cleaner and more upfront on the Perry mix, I prefer the filthy dose of Allman’s Dobro on the Manning mix.

“Waiting For A Train” is a beautiful Jimmie Rogers country blues. The Manning mix is perfectly old timey. The Perry mix stays pretty close to Manning, but it is a bit too clean and so it sounds more like an impersonation, than the organic Manning original.

“Loan Me A Dime” is the song that made this album. The Perry mix is pristine and highlights all the instruments. Duane Allman is at his bluesy best. Boz’s voice is soulful. But this is a down and out song and it sounds better a little dirty (the Manning mix). As much as I like the pristine nature of the Perry mix, it is worth the mud of the Manning mix to fully appreciate the perfection of Duane Allman’s solo.

“Sweet Release” – the song remains the same: Perry is bright and clean and Manning is down and dirty.

Overall it is a bit of a draw, but in general I prefer the cleaner, tighter and more spacious sound of the Perry mix. Perry is pretty faithful to the original. He brightens it without distorting it. I would love to spin a mint copy of the Manning – perhaps my version is too worn. My guess is if I found a mint Manning it would win. As much as I prefer the Perry mix, the Manning mix serves Duane Allman better. And let’s face it this album’s specialness is Duane Allman. Sorry, to be so indecisive, buy both. If you are crate digging you should be able to get respectable copies of both in the five dollar range. But no matter what this is a great album. Realistically you are likely to find better quality versions of the Perry mix. If you can’t remember the catalog numbers they are pretty easy to tell a part – the Perry mix is clearly noted on the back cover. Don’t settle for a Perry mix that is not gatefold or matte – the picture of Duane Allman on the inside cover is classic and you don’t want miss it or see it shiny.

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From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. I think we discussed this record before. You have a keen ear.

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