26 April 2019 (released)
24 April 2019
My view of George Benson, generally, is that of a super-smooth (bordering on soul-less) jazz singer and guitarist. I know he has a history in Blues music but recently he has been making music that seems completely devoid of any sense of funk or groove.
This album proves though, if you give him the material, he can still get the job done and in a rather fine way.
All the tunes here were written by Fats Domino or Chuck Berry and I have to say he has managed to keep the spirit of the originals without losing any of his, very, individual talents.
The whole album comes at you with all the punch and verve of rock & roll and New Orleans jazz. Horns blowing, powerful drumming and Benson’s guitar really do a job.
From Chuck’s ‘Nadine’ to Fats ‘Ain’t That A Shame’ the album kicks off with a blast. ‘Rocking Chair’ takes the tempo down just a touch and you could just imagine the fat man on piano, firing on all cylinders before Berry’s ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ kicks it up a couple of gears.
For me, the only song here that doesn’t really cut it is Berry’s ‘Havana Moon’ which is a little bland and saccharine sweet but that is the fault of the song rather than the performance.
The title track is brilliantly played, slow and steady just as it should be and with strings that just make the song work rather than sweetening it while ‘Blue Monday’ really carries the working man’s burdens to a New Orleans groove.
I would say that Benson relies on the strength of the songs here rather than imbuing with any great new insights but his guitar throughout is a delight and it stands as a good addition to his collection.