The Best Of George Benson

George Benson

Warner Brothers Records, 1976

http://www.georgebenson.com

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/07/2002

I had a professor in college who used to regale us with some pretty interesting stories. Many of them featured his ex-wife. If this sounds scary to you, it gets worse; one of those stories involved the fact that no matter how bad they were fighting, he could put on George Benson's "This Masquerade" and guarantee that he'd get lucky. While this may cast some sort of odd light on my college years, fact remains that George Benson is a pretty smooth cat, and has put out some reasonably tasty jazz over the last 25 years or so - so on my last trip to the Monolithic Record Club website I belong to, I used some bonus points and picked up Benson's 1976 greatest hits CD.

I'm not a big fan of the greatest hits format, as a lot of the DV Faithful know, but I acknowledge sometimes they have their uses. When you want a few songs from a given artist, they're a good way to save some bucks; and nbtc__dv_250 The Best Of George Benson fulfills that requirement with flying colors. Every George Benson song I could think of, including a few obscure favorites, is on here, and they're presented in a pleasant, unobtrusive way that doesn't jar you with sudden tempo changes or weird "alternative" versions. For those unfamiliar with Benson's work, he's a very "smooth jazz" sort of performer, similar to Al Jarreau or Michael McDonald, and a lot of the appeal of his music for me is the fact that it can slip in and out of my background awareness while I'm working on something else.

The production and engineering on the CD is impeccable. I suspect, though it's not documented on the CD, some of these tracks were remastered from original recordings. The musicianship is peerless; Benson is a hell of a vocalist and guitarist, and when your backup musicians include Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, Michael Sembello, Herbie Hancock, Kashif, Bill Champlin, and James Taylor, you could record the phone book and sound good.

As for the songs - much like Benson's career, there are some hits and some weak bunts, but no misses. Some of these songs haven't aged very well; "Give Me The Night" made my son gleefully inform me I was listening to disco, for example. But "Lady Love Me (One More Time)", "Turn Your Love Around", "I Just Wanna Hang Around You", and "Lady Blue" are all classics - and the threefer of "This Masquerade", "On Broadway", and "20/20" (one of the most underrated songs of the eighties) is worth the price of the CD by themselves. Overall, this is a solid piece of work from someone who carved himself a niche and made it work for a long, fruitful career.

Next time you're having trouble with your partner of choice, groove on over to the stereo and pop on "This Masquerade". What the hell, it couldn't hurt; and if you get turned down, you've still got some pretty cool music to listen to.

Rating: B+

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© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.