Sunday, February 7, 2021

Roberta Flack - Freedom Song - Various Songs (1970-1974)

Up until recently, I wasn't a fan of Roberta Flack's music. I'd gotten the impression that most of it was smooth, cheesy, generic pop. I only liked a few of her big hits, like "Killing Me Softly," that were good enough to rise above production issues. But then I discovered her first few albums were different. Her first album came out in 1969, and she only went all in on "adult contemporary" pop around 1973. Her first album, "First Take," is particularly acclaimed. 

In this, I shouldn't be too surprised, because it fits with larger musical trends. The late 60s and early 70s were a musical high water mark, in my opinion. Soul music in particular went drastically downhill as the 1970s went on, especially thanks to disco. Look at many other soul greats who had great music at the start of the 1970s but then struggled from the mid-1970s onward, like Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, and many more.

In any case, now that I've come to appreciate at least the early phase of Roberta Flack's career, I've discovered that she did a lot of songs in concert in those years that she never put on her albums. I found enough for a nice stray tracks collection. Furthermore, I plan on posting an early concert of hers that has even more.

Flack is a song interpreter, not a songwriter, so all of these songs are covers. The third and fourth songs are duets from a Les McCann album. Four more songs, "Freedom Song" plus the last three, come from soundtracks or a guest appearance on another album. The rest are taken from concert bootlegs. Luckily, those are of high sound quality. I've removed the audience noise so those songs will fit in with the studio tracks.

Here are the original artists for each song:

01 Save the Country - Laura Nyro / 5th Dimension
02 Let It Be - Beatles
03 How Many Broken Wings - Les McCann
04 Baby, Baby - Les McCann & Roberta Flack
05 Freedom Song - unknown
06 Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye - Tammi Terrell
07 Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer - Stevie Wonder
08 Ooh Child - Five Stairsteps
09 God Bless the Child -  Billie Holliday
10 When You're Smiling [The Whole World Smiles with You] - Seger Ellis / Louis Armstrong
11 Trade Winds - Three Degrees
12 On a Clear Day [You Can See Forever] - Killer Joe - Barbra Streisand
13 Freedom - Sherman Brothers

Here's the usual song list:

01 Save the Country (Roberta Flack)
02 Let It Be (Roberta Flack)
03 How Many Broken Wings (Les McCann & Roberta Flack)
04 Baby, Baby (Les McCann & Roberta Flack)
05 Freedom Song (Roberta Flack)
06 Ain't No Mountain High Enough (Roberta Flack)
07 Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer (Roberta Flack)
08 Ooh Child (Roberta Flack)
09 God Bless the Child (Roberta Flack)
10 When You're Smiling [The Whole World Smiles with You] (Roberta Flack with Quincy Jones)
11 Trade Winds (Roberta Flack)
12 On a Clear Day [You Can See Forever] - Killer Joe (Roberta Flack)
13 Freedom (Roberta Flack)

The cover art photo is from the Newport Jazz Festival in July 1971.


  1. Looking forward to this one. Could I trouble you for a re-up of the link? Thanks so much.

    1. Oops. Looks like the link wasn't working, but it should be working now.

    2. i can send you the files from the deluxe

    3. Oh great! Thanks! My email is thompson22 @

    4. Blessinz, I never heard back from you. I'd still love it if you could send me those files.

  2. Thanks so much - much appreciated.

  3. By the way, if anyone is interested in helping out, I think one can buy the hard to find deluxe edition of First Take I mentioned above at this link:


    1. I found it on Soulseek a few hours earlier, but thanks for the tip just the same. Suddenly, it's everywhere. :)

    2. My theory is that it wasn't actually released until this week. There were reviews out nearly a year ago then nothing. Except Covid. It also finally showed up on Apple Music this week.

    3. Hmmm. Could be. I've also been looking for "First Generation" by John Mayall. There are a couple of Peter Green concerts on there I'm interested in. it seems it was released a couple of weeks ago, but I can't find it anywhere. Could it be the same thing?

    4. Mayall likely slow to show because of size and limited edition would be my guess. But it can be found here, now.

    5. Thanks for the tip! I'm grabbing it now. By the way, would you know anywhere that has details on the live 1967 and BBC tracks? (Meaning where and when they were recorded.) I don't want to buy the whole damn giant thing when I'm only interested in about 3 of the CDs.

  5. check here for track details. Excellent site in general, btw.

    1. Thanks for that tip. Very helpful. By any chance, can you do the same for Elton John's Jewel Box? I'd like to know the years the unreleased songs were recorded.