Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

George Benson - The George Benson Collection (1981)


Note: this release was originally purchased as a double LP, later replaced by a CD.

George Benson is one of the great jazz guitarists of all-time. The way he sings his guitar solos while he plays them absolutely amazes me. He is one of only a few musicians (who knows? he could be the only musician) that successfully transitioned from instrumental jazz to pop vocals. As Quincy Jones writes in the liner notes: "If George had never sung a note in his life, his guitar could done his singing for him and certainly no one would have thought there was anything lacking. But sing he did, and he showed that he is light years beyond being a guitar player who also sings." This is really the only Benson CD you need. The only downside is the fact that, in order to get 2 LP's on 1 CD, they had to take out a track. That track was the fantastic Cast Your Fate To The Wind. Bummer.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #14
Peak on Billboard's Jazz LPs chart: #1
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #5

Tracks: What a great start. the first 5 tracks are Turn Your Love Around, Love All The Hurt Away (a duet with no less than Aretha Franklin), Give Me The Night, Never Give Up On A Good Thing and the classic On Broadway. After that, it's hit or miss. The cover of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit falls flat in spite of some inspired playing by Benson, but then the CD quickly bounces back with This Masquerade and Love Ballad. Also good are Livin' Inside Your Love and Breezin'. The CD ends with the original version of The Greatest Love Of All which Benson recorded for a 1977 Muhammad Ali biopic. Most people are more familiar with Whitney Houston's 1986 hit version, but I heard this one first so it's the one I think of.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Another "Summer of '85" album. One of the best summers ever. I remember buying the double album set at a Sound Warehouse in Houston across US 59 from Westwood Mall. Sadly, the record store and mall are no longer in existence.

My wife and I saw Benson in concert in Dallas in June 1990. We were somewhere in the first 10 rows and my wife swears she and Benson made eye contact and he sang a song directly to her. She still gets a little swoony whenever she recalls that show.

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