Roberta Flack – First Take (1969)

FrontCover1.jpgFirst Take is the debut album by the American soul singer Roberta Flack. It was released in 1969 on Atlantic Records. After a track from this album, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was included by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 film Play Misty for Me with the song becoming a #1 hit in the United States, this album became #1 on the U.S. album chart. (by wikipedia)

Roberta Flack’s debut album, titled First Take in true underachiever fashion, introduced a singer who’d assimilated the powerful interpretive talents of Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan, the earthy power of Aretha Franklin, and the crystal purity and emotional resonance of folksingers like Judy Collins. Indeed, the album often sounded more like vocal jazz or folk than soul, beginning with the credits: a core quartet of Flack on piano, John Pizzarelli on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, and Ray Lucas on drums, as fine a lineup as any pop singer could hope to recruit. With only one exception — the bluesy, grooving opener “Compared to What,” during which Flack proves her chops as a soul belter — she concentrates on readings of soft, meditative material. A pair of folk covers, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” are heart-wrenching standouts; the first even became a surprise hit two years later, when its appearance in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me pushed it to the top of the pop charts and earned Flack her first Grammy award for Record of the Year.


Her arrangement of the traditional “I Told Jesus” has a simmering power, while “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” summons a stately sense of melancholy. Flack also included two songs from her college friend and future duet partner, Donny Hathaway, including a tender examination of the classic May-December romance titled “Our Ages or Our Hearts.” The string arrangements of William Fischer wisely keep to the background, lending an added emotional weight to all of Flack’s pronouncements. No soul artist had ever recorded an album like this, making First Take one of the most fascinating soul debuts of the era. (by John Bush)

This album is a real great mixture between Jazz and Soul !


Ron Carter (bass)
Roberta Flack (piano, vocals)
Ray Lucas (drums, percussion)
Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar)
Seldon Powell – Frank Wess

Charles McCracken – George Ricci

Jimmy Nottingham – Joe Newman

Emanuel Green – Gene Orloff

Alfred Brown – Selwart Clarke – Theodore Israel

Benny Powell


01. Compared To What (McDaniels) 5.16
02. Angelitos Negros (Blanco/UMaciste) 6.56
03. Our Ages Or Our Hearts (Ayers/Hathaway) 6.10
04. I Told Jesus (Traditiona) 6.10
05. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Cohen) 4.09
06. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (MacColl) 5.22
07. Tryin’ Times (Hathaway/Hutson) 5.08
08. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men (Landesman/Wolf) 7.00