Tuesday, 28 July 2009

George Benson - Songs And Stories - 2009 -Concord

This is definitely the best George Benson album in 11 years. His 1998 CD, "Standing Together", still gets played, unskipped, from start to finish to this day as I love it so much. It stands the test of time and represents the best of this man in the 1990s. The following albums - especially the last, dreadful, one - did not really cut the mustard at all but this really has the Legend back on top form. You are definitely going to be pleased with this album. The album switches from very good to brilliant from the start and there are some songs on here which seriously get me excited. George Benson is so, so talented and his last album certainly was a complete and utter waste of his - and our - time. It was, for me, an insult on this great man. This CD certainly sets his stall out far more sympathetically.

Skipping the cover version at the start - a bad move for me having a cover version to kick off a CD - we have what I expected to be a cover version, but was VERY happy to find it was a new song. "Family Reunion" is not, as I dreaded, a cover of the O'Jays classic but a stonking new tune that wipes the floor with many of today's so-called Soul / Jazz / RnB / Whatever songs. This is classic George Benson and one of the best songs he has laid down for many, many years. Simply superb. I cannot rave about this song enough. Fans of George's late 70s / early 80s output will simply adore "Show Me The Love". It's like he's decided to give us a "Turn Your Love Around" for 2009 and the piano, rhythm guitar and EWF type horns really add lustre and sparkle. SUPERB. Contemporary talent, Norman Brown, appears on the excellent "Nothin' But A Party" and the two players nail down a funky jam which has a wonderfully catchy melody. The guys had a ball with this I am sure. Lalah Hathaway appears on the slinky "Just A Telephone Call Away" - not the best of tracks on here but a real grower. Lalah sounds so sexy and seductive, and without even trying! That girl has definitely got talent! Fans of Al Green's latest, stupendous CD will lap up "Come In From The Cold" which has some serious stylistic overtones from that album. "One Like You" is also well worth a spin and has some great 80s sympathies which I know you will appreciate. Fans of a funkier side of George will also appreciate the swirling string-drizzled instrumental cut "Living In High Definition". Plenty of stabbing horns and even a sitar in there too gelled with the trademark scat. What can I say? Welcome back, Mr George Benson!!!

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe

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