“A Fool to Care,” the new album by Boz Scaggs, the singer whose rhythm-and-blues- and soul-touched recordings include the 1970s hits “Lowdown” and “Lido Shuffle,” features four songs with Louisiana connections.
Three of the songs were recorded by the late Cosimo Matassa in New Orleans: swamp-pop singer Joe Barry’s “A Fool to Care”; L’il Millet and the Creoles’ “Rich Woman”; and Huey “Piano” Smith’s “High Blood Pressure.”
Bobby Charles, the late Abbeville singer-songwriter, recorded the fourth song, “Small Town Talk.” He co-wrote it with The Band’s Rick Danko. Charles’ other compositions include the Bill Haley hit, “See You Later, Alligator,” Fats Domino’s “Walking to New Orleans” and Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s “(I Don’t Know Why I Love You) But I Do.”
“A Fool to Care,” recorded in Nashville with Memphis musicians, also features songs originally recorded by Al Green, The Band, Curtis Mayfield and Philly soul vocal group The Spinners.
“We’re always looking for that groove, that feel, that style,” Scaggs said last week. “We’re also looking for some raw energy.”
Several songs on “A Fool to Care” were recorded after Scaggs and his collaborators had already spent a full day in the studio.
“Right before we’d go home, we’d go in and do one more song,” he said. “One song that we could just get crazy with a little bit. So we’d go in and just hit a groove.”
“High Blood Pressure” and “Rich Woman” were two of the grooving songs.
“We’d play the song for 20 or 30 minutes,” Scaggs said. “Not stop and start, but just go play that groove and wear it out. And then we’d listen to it at another time, edit it, pick out parts we want, or maybe pick out just a little short take of it.
“We were looking for those wild cards, those cornerstones that have some kind of crazy energy about them.”
Scaggs, producer Steve Jordan and the musicians (including rhythm guitarist Ray Parker Jr. of “Ghostbusters” theme song fame), had a good time making “A Fool to Care.” The Louisiana songs were a big part of the fun.
“Some of the Louisiana stuff has such unusual, exotic grooves,” Scaggs said. “ ‘Rich Woman,’ for instance, or the Huey ‘Piano’ Smith songs. They’re deep, wonderful grooves.”
Matching the song to his voice is always another consideration in choosing material.
“It has to be something I can get my voice around,” Scaggs said. “If I can find my voice and find some expression in it, and it works on other levels, then we got a song.”
Scaggs built his musical foundation on the rhythm-and-blues, rock ’n’ roll and soul he heard on the radio while he was growing up in Texas and Oklahoma. His favorite albums included New Orleans group Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns’ 1959 singles collection, “Having a Good Time.”
Having recorded the very well-received 2013 album, “Memphis,” in Memphis, and “A Fool to Care” in Nashville, Scaggs may cut the next one in New Orleans.
“It certainly would be going to the heart of the matter,” he said. “Going to New Orleans. That’s the home of it all for me and a number of my best musical friends.”