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.
Robert Lett says
Pre ordered, thanks for posting. Looks great.
For those who don’t want to buy the vinyl disc, will any company release all the tracks on two CDs? Thanks.
Joe Marchese says
Anything is possible, but as of now, that would seem highly unlikely. (A subsequent digital release would seem possible, though.)
Bit disappointed that those of us outside the US will have to pay hefty duty on this. Hopefully there will be a CD only edition that will be a lot more affordable for us UK folks!
Too bad there is a vinyl bundled with the CDs. I wish the different formats were released separately.
It's great that the reissue will be on vinyl AND cd. But packaging both together - without an option to buy either format separately - is unfortunate. Wonder what kind of market research Run Out Groove has seen to justify the move. Hope those folks and David Nathan at SoulMusic get hip to this issue and break them out later. Too many reissues are packaged this way and the same complaints come up over and over.
Does SoulMusic usually offer lossless downloads?
Joe Marchese says
Hi Andrew, Rhino/Run Out Groove may opt to release the music digitally (sooner or later), but as a third party licensee of the material, it's doubtful that SoulMusic.com will be able to offer it in any digital format.
I agree with others. It is idiotic to not have the two formats available separately. I do not want nor need the vinyl. I only want the CD, but I am not paying $50 for it.
What I would love to see released from Roberta is a two disc compilation of all her singles in their single versions/edits - one disc for her solo songs and another for her duets:
• Compared To What
• Reverend Lee
• Do What You Gotta Do
• Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
• The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
• Killing Me Softly With His Song
• Feel Like Makin’ Love
• Feelin’ That Glow
• 25th Of Last December
• If Ever I See You Again
• When It’s Over
• You Are Everything
• You Stopped Loving Me
• Making Love
• I’m The One
• In The Name Of Love
• This Side Of Forever
• We Shall Overcome
• Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes)
• Shock To My System
• You Make Me Feel Brand New
• You’ve Got A Friend
• You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
• Where Is The Love
• The Closer I Get To You
• You Are My Heaven
• Back Together Again
• Don’t Make Me Wait Too Long
• Make The World Stand Still
• Love Is A Waiting Game
• Our Love Will Stop The World
• Tonight I Celebrate My Love
• You’re Lookin’ Like Love To Me
• I Just Came Here To Dance
• If I’m Still Around Tomorrow
• Set The Night To Music
Robbie MacDuff says
I was disappointed that the tracks from Soul To Soul, "Live in Ghana", Soundtrack 1972 were not included ... particularly Freedom Song ... could have done without the single edits of Compared To What and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, if "CD space" was an issue. But good to see Trade Winds included! I particularly like the previously unreleased 13 tracks on the second CD. What we really need is a comprehensive compilation from all the years - why not - over 5 CDs ... there is no shortage of the wealth of recorded material!!
I hope that this awesome classic gets issued in a CD version since I don't buy vinyl. Too many reissues of fab stuff coming out on vinyl only and not on CD-and that's a big bummer for fans and music lovers like me who buy only CDs. But, First Take is a favorite of mine and definitely one of the greatest debut albums ever! A classic! It would be awesome to see all of Roberta Flack's Atlantic Records recordings re-issued (Aretha Franklin's Atlantic Records recordings as well) with bonus tracks, rarities, etc.
So did this lp+2cd ever materialise ? It's not yet listed on
Sam Stone says
Yes! In fact they’re shipping now.
According to this article, they won’t allow streaming for a year:
“Premiering in tandem with the release of First Take: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is another of the 12 demo recordings, the standard “Hush-A-Bye.” Including liner notes by music journalist/author David Nathan, the limited edition of 3000 copies is available exclusively at SoulMusic.com for one year. The deluxe package will then be released to streaming services in summer 2021.”
Presumably, that is also true for digital downloads.
I just received mine today. I cannot give enough kudos to the thought given to the entire project, both musically as well as the physical packaging. I get that there will be those that will always find something to complain about. I will also likely only put the vinyl on my turntable for a few selected listens in a dark room when the mood is right. But for those not willing to pay what's being asked for: just get the package and mount the vinyl in a frame and hang it on your wall if you will never listen to it. The physical package is so well produced that I am happy to have the vinyl even if I never play it. Because of the LP, the size of the package and the booklet is how things used to be and how they should be. There is no way any of this would be worthwhile if produced just as a tiny CD boxed set, no matter how lavish the finish. Listened to the entire set earlier on my dedicated 2-channel system, am now listening to it with everyone else asleep. The second disc alone makes it worth the price of admission, the large format package, with CD receptacles that will actually hold up to long-term use, are icing on the cake! It's only money, you only live once...pick your cliche and just get the set. You will not regret it, although you may regret it when the 3000 are gone