Happy Anniversary: Roberta Flack, First Take

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Friday, June 20, 2014
Roberta Flack
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Happy Anniversary: Roberta Flack, First Take

Today marks the 45th anniversary of Roberta Flack’s chart-topping debut album, First Take, which first hit stores on June 20, 1969, but if you would’ve sworn it came out a few years later than that, that’s actually somewhat understandable, as it didn’t actually top the charts until April 29, 1972, well after the release of her third album, 1971’s Quiet Fire.

What took so long for the album to break big? Well, we can’t really answer that question, but we can tell you why it finally broke when it did: Clint Eastwood used the song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in his 1971 film, Play Misty for Me, resulting in the track finally being released as a single in the early months of 1972 and making its way to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on April 15, where it remained until The Chi-Lites’ “Oh Girl” finally replaced it on May 27. Not too shabby, eh?

The album itself is pretty good, too, as it happens. The opening track, Flack’s cover of Gene McDaniels’ “Compared to What,” might not have set the charts on fire as the first single, but it’s a strong performance nonetheless, and it’s far from alone on First Take, which also features a stellar version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.” Indeed, the album rates a full five stars in the All Music Guide, making it a must-hear for any fan of jazz and R&B.