This week on My Classic Soul podcast, hosts Bethany Dawson and David Nathan, the founder of SoulMusic.com, honor award-winning jazz songstress Roberta Flack and her celebrated debut album 'First Take'.
ON THEIR INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC LEGEND ROBERTA FLACK:
NATHAN: "I became aware of Roberta Flack probably most people outside of the Washington, D.C. area - and I'll say more about that in a moment - with the release of her first Atlantic album, appropriately called First Take, which was released in 1969."
"I'm 99% sure it was released in Britain at the same time as it was in the U.S., and that was how I became aware of, interestingly enough, how at that time, there were no hit songs on there. It was a new album by a new artist and I didn't know much about it to be honest with you, at that particular point."
DAWSON: "And the rumor has it that she recorded her debut album, First Take, reportedly in 10 hours to complete all eight songs."
NATHAN: "Yeah, that's a little bit misleading actually. Let me set the stage a little bit for you. Prior to doing the actual sessions for the first album, she had actually spent time in November of 1968 and a studio in New York and over a course of three days. They were three days, and t wasn't 10 straight hours. It was probably 10 hours over three days, of like three songs the first day, I think four songs the next day. She didn't sit there for 10 hours."
DAWSON: "So the album came out in 1969 but it didn't actually reach number one on the pop and R&B charts until 1972."
ON FLACK'S RELATIONSHIP WITH CLINT EASTWOOD:
NATHAN: "The gap between 1970 and 1972 was really as a result of the fact that the actor and director Clint Eastwood chose one of the songs, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for a film that he was directing called Play Misty For Me. And so the mythology goes Clint was driving down an LA freeway and he heard "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face in 1971" actually..."
"I don't know if he pulled over 'cause back then, there were no cell phones. I guess he maybe got home and got in touch with someone at Atlantic, got Roberta's number and called her and said, 'I want to use your song from your album in my film."
"And supposedly she said, jaw-dropped, 'Really, Clint Eastwood?' Anyway, so the bottom line, offered her a certain enough money for use of the song. That's kind of how that would've worked back then. But anyway, the point being that he said, 'Do you have any other questions?' And she said, 'Well, yeah, actually, I would like to record it again. I think the version I have on the album is too slow.' And he said, 'No, it's not.' And then the album, the song was in the film. And then Atlantic, you know, when the film came out, they released an edited version of the album track."
DAWSON: "The newly relaunched, SoulMusic.com, which obviously you founded, is doing a deluxe reissue, right? Cut the album on two CD and one LP. The set features a remastered version of the original album on both vinyl and CD, along with a disk of rare and unreleased recordings."
NATHAN: "So what's on the unreleased recording disc is 12 of the demos from 1968. So when she was in the studio for those three days, literally just doing all the things that were part of a live repertoire. So those 12 have miraculously survived cause for a long time, no one at the Atlantic library could find them..."
Listen to the rest of the podcast here.