Roberta Flack’s inimitable voice has stirred listeners for over 50 years. She’s had hits in the pop, R&B, and traditional vocal fields; earned six gold records, and achieved a multi-platinum success with Killing Me Softly. In April, Flack will be honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her lasting creative contributions. To mark the occasion, SoulMusic.com and Run Out Groove will release a special version of Flack’s debut on April 10.
First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is a 2CD/1LP set including a newly remastered version of the original album on CD and vinyl plus single edits, B-sides, a Flack guest appearance, and 12 unreleased tracks from the archive.
Recorded in February 1969, the aptly titled First Take introduced the world to Flack’s talents. But it wasn’t until 1972 – after her version of Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time I Saw Your Face” was featured in Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me – that the album took off. The song would remain at No. 1 for six weeks and would win a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1973. Though it’s one of Flack’s most famous tracks, “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” is far from the only highlight on First Take. There are also songs written with longtime collaborator Donny Hathaway; a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”; and a version of “Compared To What,” which would become a hit in 1970 by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. McCann provides an introduction to the album’s liner notes, which were penned by soul music authority (and SoulMusic founder) David Nathan and are presented in a 12″x12″ hardcover book.
For longtime fans, the star of the three-disc set is no doubt the bonus disc. Flack has long been reticent to release archival material, but this set finally sees her opening the vault doors. It kicks off with a live version of “All The Way” from 1968 as released on Les McCann’s Les Is More, followed by 12 unreleased demos that Flack recorded in two days in November 1968 with producer Joel Dorn.
According to the press release, “she covers a range of genres, including her take on traditional songs (‘Frankie And Johnny’), blues standards (‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out’), folk (‘The Song Is Love’), pop (‘To Sir With Love’) and R&B (‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.’)”
First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is limited to just 3,000 copies and is available exclusively from SoulMusic.com in association with Run Out Groove/Atlantic. You can find the track listing and pre-order link below!
Roberta Flack, First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Run Out Groove/SoulMusic, 2020) (SoulMusic.com)
CD 1 / LP: First Take remastered (album originally released as Atlantic LP SD-8230, 1969)
- Compared To What
- Angelitos Negros
- Our Ages Or Our Hearts
- I Told Jesus
- Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
- Tryin’ Times
- Ballad of the Sad Young Men
- Compared To What (single edit) (bonus track)
- The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (single edit) (bonus track)
- Trade Winds (B-side) (bonus track)
Track 9 originally released as B-side to “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye,” Atlantic single 45-2665, 1969.
Tracks 10 and 11 originally released on Atlantic single 45-2864, 1972.
CD 2: bonus tracks
* denotes previously unreleased demo
- All The Way (live)
- This Could Be The Start Of Something *
- Groove Me *
- Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out *
- Hush-A-Bye *
- Afro Blue *
- It’s Way Past Suppertime *
- Frankie And Johnny *
- On The Street Where You Live *
- The House Song *
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough *
- The Song Is Love *
- To Sir With Love *
Track 1 released on Les McCann, Les Is More Night Records LP, VNLP-4, 1991
Nick Ashford was someone I greatly admired, had the honor of knowing, and was the real-life inspiration for Cowboy Curtis' hair. RIP Nick. - Pee Wee Herman