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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Boz Scaggs
Dennis Keely

Coming on Home: Boz Scaggs, bluesman

Boz' Blues Revue:
Cool blues, Boz, but where's the funk?

LET'S BE FRANK: Boz Scaggs is the meatloaf of music. Not that Meatloaf, but he does possesses many of the positive qualities of the great American dish; he is consistent, warm, fulfilling, comforting. The room fills up with luscious smells (sounds, in his case) when it's on the (turn)table. Anyone who grew up in the '70s knows how hard it was to get around the dial without coming up with "Lido Shuffle," "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and the R&B staple "Lowdown." I know I've got an eight-track of Silk Degrees somewhere.

For the last 10 years, Mr. Lowdown has been on the down-low, releasing occasional albums. His latest CD, Come on Home, is a strict interpretation of the blues. For those weaned on his radio hits and unfamiliar with his more recent foray into bluesology, his set last Thursday--the second of three sold-out dates at the Mountain Winery--must have been a bit trying.

"We're going to play old stuff in a new way, and new stuff in an old way," said Scaggs. With stylistic backup from bassist Richard Patterson and Doobie Brothers tenor saxophonist Cornelius Bumpus, the group ranged across various blues styles: New Orleans-style, Memphis, Delta and Texas. How did he sound? His hearty, well-kept voice rarely missed. He played guitar for the entire show and never opened his shirt beyond the collar.

The crowd went bonkers for "Lowdown." The flügelhorn and flute combo that carries the song's melody sounded as fresh as it did back when Gerald Ford was president. The disco beat and Patterson's bass had heads bobbing. How long before rap producers begin plundering Scaggs (as they did Hall & Oates) remains to be seen. A song like "Lowdown," with its tight brass hits and customized breaks, seems ripe for a test spin in the sampling chop shop. Then the blues crept back in the form of songs by Jimmy Reed, Lou Rawls ("Somebody Else Will") and Fats Domino (an upbeat New Orleans­influenced "Sick and Tired"). He finished off with the down-and-out centerpiece from his 1969 self-titled debut, "Loan Me a Dime," and an upbeat track from Come on Home, a Booker T.­like "Don't Cry No More." The show was great for blues fans but disappointing for old-school Boz fans, who missed "It's Over," "Georgia," "Lido Shuffle," "What Can I Say," "Harbor Lights" and "We're All Alone." Next time, more rhythm, less blues.

Kidd on the Kutt

On the hip-hop scene, I'm getting good mileage out of rapper Kidd X. The Texas transplant who moved to San Jose to get his career going has just self-released The Unknown. The standout tracks are "Worse Thing in the World," "We Represent" and "My Cypher"; the last two include Plado from Twisted Mind Kids. "Guiding Light" invokes Prince's "Pink Cashmere" to kick a thoughtful story about Kidd X's grandmother. Awww. ... The New Dealers could have taken some lessons from Kidd X. First off, there's only five tracks on their new self-titled CD. There are three emcees on these tracks, and the poor vocal mix makes them sound desperate, not serious. Raggamuffin rapper Jr. Robby sounds corrugated and corny. Can't fault the New Dealers' musical side; they've got one of the most impressive, flavorful backup bands I've heard in a long while.

Rage for Wu

The Usual's popular Tuesday swing nights have moved to Saturdays, starting this weekend with Jumpin' Jimes. ... The biggest nonfestival show of the year has set a date. Rage Against the Machine, the Wu-Tang Clan and Atari Teenage Riot converge on the Shoreline on Sept. 15.

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From the July 17-23, 1997 issue of Metro.

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