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Brook Benton At His Best

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Album Review

As Brook Benton's most important platters were still a few years down the line, At His Best (1959) is an eye-catching moniker rather than a true representation of Benton's (vocals) highest-charting and most warmly received songs. The dozen selections on this compilation are derived from recordings cut during his brief mid-'50s run on the R&B-centric Okeh and the middle-of-the-road Epic labels. After beginning his career as a gospel singer, Benton teamed with a young Quincy Jones — who had recently been in Lionel Hampton's touring aggregate as a trumpet player — as well as Leroy Kirkland and Ray Ellis. Jones — a freelancer at the time — cooked up scores to Benton's own swinging mid-tempo "Can I Help It" and "Ooh." The latter is one of the sides featuring Benton along with support by the Sandmen. It didn't take long, however, before Benton's smooth and supple leads gained significant recognition and he was soon given full artist credit. By late 1955, the Four Lads and latter-era Billie Holiday arranger Ray Ellis began working on a handful of Benton sessions. Gathering material from a variety of styles and genres, he attempted to appeal to the widest possible audience. "Rock 'n' Roll That Rhythm (All Nite Long)" is a lightweight proto-pop number with definite roots steeped in big band, evidenced by Ellis' horn-driven charts. The bluesy ballad "Partners for Life" and the upbeat crooner's delight "Bring Me Love" are among the better offerings from the Ellis/Benton pairing. It was veteran guitarist and composer Leroy Kirkland who seems to have had the best concepts for providing an ample outlet for Benton. Rather than reform him into a rocker or the figurehead of a vocal combo, Kirkland's ideas are more along the lines of Johnny Mathis. "The Wall" allows Benton a chance to display his considerably soulful chops, while the Benton-penned "Anything for You," "Tell Me" and "Give Me a Sign" point squarely in the direction that his career took several years later. After signing with Mercury, he unleashed a torrent of Top 40 hits that would include the signatures "It's Just a Matter of Time," "So Many Ways" and "Kiddo" — none of which are found here.


Born: 19 September 1931 in Camden, SC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Silky smooth: that was Brook Benton's byword from his first record to his very last, as the singer parlayed his rich baritone pipes into seven number one R&B hits and eight Top Ten items. Stints on the gospel circuit preceded Benton's first secular session for Okeh in 1953, but his career didn't begin to take off until he teamed with writer/producer Clyde Otis. Benton co-wrote and sang hundreds of demos for other artists before frequent collaborator Otis signed his friend to Mercury; together they...
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Top Albums and Songs by Brook Benton

Brook Benton At His Best, Brook Benton
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  • 8,99 €
  • Genres: Pop, Music, R&B/Soul
  • Released: 29 June 2006

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