50 Years Since Roberta Flack's First Take

50 Years Since Roberta Flack's First Take

roberta flack first take
(Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1969, soul music's heyday was nearing an end, jazz was creeping into the mainstream and singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell had just launched their careers. Roberta Flack recorded her debut album First Take in February 1969, 50 years ago this month, to be released in June of 1969, reaching #1 on the album chart. All of those previously mentioned influences can be heard on it.

Opener “Compared To What” shows she can belt 'em out like Aretha, and though none of the eight selections are self-penned, choices like Leonard Cohen's “Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye” reflect her taste for intimate, confessional material. But the jazz influence may be the strongest, with noted producer Joel Dorn at the helm and master instrumentalists like bassist Ron Carter in the band. And it was jazz buff Clint Eastwood who turned the collection's “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” into a hit by putting it in his film Play Misty For Me, in late 1971. The song reached #1 in the singles chart in 1972.

Roberta Flack just celebrated a birthday last week, and we'll salute her singular talents as a vocalist and pianist with the superb First Take.

Related Posts