12 Songs, 31 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The South Carolina–born Brook Benton was weaned on gospel, and it’s beautifully obvious. He's been favorably (and rightfully) compared to Nat King Cole; Benton actually wrote many songs for Cole. Benton's deep-gut voice conveyed real longing and verisimilitude, so it often sounds like he’s singing right to you. That impression is especially evident on his first big hits: 1959’s terrific “It Just a Matter of Time” and the same year’s “Endlessly” (both written by Benton and Clyde Otis). Benton had sass, too; just listen to his 1960 duets with Dinah Washington: the doo-wop soul crusher “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)" and the mirthful “A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)." The talky stroll of the blues traditional “The Boil Weevil Song” is a striking left turn here; it was a novelty hit in ’61. Other songs became ubiquitous in the early ’60s, such as the saucy “Kiddio” and the country-soulful “Lie to Me.” Benton might be best remembered for his massive 1970 comeback hit “Rainy Night in Georgia” (written by Tony Joe White and produced by Tom Dowd).

EDITORS’ NOTES

The South Carolina–born Brook Benton was weaned on gospel, and it’s beautifully obvious. He's been favorably (and rightfully) compared to Nat King Cole; Benton actually wrote many songs for Cole. Benton's deep-gut voice conveyed real longing and verisimilitude, so it often sounds like he’s singing right to you. That impression is especially evident on his first big hits: 1959’s terrific “It Just a Matter of Time” and the same year’s “Endlessly” (both written by Benton and Clyde Otis). Benton had sass, too; just listen to his 1960 duets with Dinah Washington: the doo-wop soul crusher “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)" and the mirthful “A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)." The talky stroll of the blues traditional “The Boil Weevil Song” is a striking left turn here; it was a novelty hit in ’61. Other songs became ubiquitous in the early ’60s, such as the saucy “Kiddio” and the country-soulful “Lie to Me.” Benton might be best remembered for his massive 1970 comeback hit “Rainy Night in Georgia” (written by Tony Joe White and produced by Tom Dowd).

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2:47
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2:38
2:16
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3:49

About Brook Benton

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 pioneered a lush, violin-studded variation on the standard R&B sound, which beautifully showcased Benton's intimate vocals.

Benton crashed the top spot on the R&B charts in early 1959 with his moving "It's Just a Matter of Time," then rapidly encored with three more R&B chart-toppers: "Thank You Pretty Baby," "So Many Ways," and "Kiddio." Pairing with Mercury labelmate Dinah Washington, their delightful repartee on "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" and "A Rockin' Good Way" paced the R&B lists in 1960.

The early '60s were a prolific period for Benton, but he left Mercury a few years later and bounced between labels before reemerging with the atmospheric Tony Joe White ballad "Rainy Night in Georgia" on Cotillion in 1970. Benton later made a halfhearted attempt to cash in on the disco craze, but his hitmaking reign was at an end long before his death in 1988. ~ Bill Dahl

  • ORIGIN
    Camden, SC
  • GENRE
    R&B/Soul
  • BORN
    September 19, 1931

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