Kat's "Kat's Korner: The Sensual Roberta Flack:"
It was 1974 and Atlantic was nervous and desperate. Not least of all because, in the Warner Communications universe, they were competing that year with the newly joined Elektra-Asylum, under David Geffen's leadership, which was hitting big with Carly Simon's Hotcakes, Joni Mitchell's Court & Spark, Bob Dylan's Planet Waves. (Geffen won the wooing of Dylan over Jerry Wexler who was trying to bring him to Atlantic.) And Atlantic needed something they could depend on, something they could market, something they could sale. While the Average White Band was going to give them any bragging rights, they needed something with prestige as well. 1973's Goats Head Soup was still selling and the Stones were already at work on their follow up (It's Only Rock 'n Roll). Roberta Flack had given the label a huge hit in 1973 with "Killing Me Softly With His Song" and was in the studio recording her follow up album. And recording it. And editing it. And still in the studio. Maybe pressure could be put on her to finish things quickly?
Not a chance. Joel Dorn was producing the album, however, the suits' constant demands to hurry up and their need to 'explain'(pressure) how it needed to be a hit led to his walking out on the project. That left it to Roberta to take control and hold it together. She'd spend eight months in the studio on that album which became Feel Like Makin' Love and would make the pop charts, the R&B charts and the jazz charts as well as produce a hit single with the title track. In fact, she'd finish with the lead single first and it would hit number one in August of 1974. But she was still working on perfecting the sound of the album and it wouldn't be released until March of 1975. The next album? It would take her nearly three years before she felt Blue Lights In The Basement was ready. (That album would contain her smash duet with Donny Hathaway "The Closer I Get To You.")
I tell all of that to set that stage and make sure everybody gets that a Roberta Flack album is a rare thing. She's no Emily Dickinson, that Roberta. In fact, she makes J.D. Salinger look positively prolific. Like Halley's Comet in the sky, a Roberta Flack album is a rare thing.
Roberta Flack is back with a new album. It's been nearly 13 years, but Let It Be Roberta: Roberta Flack Sings the Beatles is a really strong album. On this album, my favorite tracks are "The Long & Winding Road" and "Isn't It A Pity." But I do love them all. The entire album, really.
I started wondering what my favorite Roberta song period was?
I couldn't think of just one. I thought "Oasis" which has a lilting feel to it. But I immediately thought, "Wait, I love 'And So It Goes' from that album too." Maybe "The Closer I Get To You"? That's a great song and I've always enjoyed it. Do you know who does an amazing version of it? C.I. At the piano, she just recreates that song. It's really something to hear.
But when I think "The Closer I Get To You," I usually think, "'Making Love' is so unique and so overlooked by so many."
So if I had to go with just one song, it would have to be "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."
If you're a Roberta fan like I am, please make a point to do yourself a favor and get the new album.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):