10 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Brook Benton took Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” to an elevated plane on both the pop charts and in a spiritual sense. The tinkling piano and sentiment-stroking strings support Benton’s world-weary vocal beautifully, and phrases such as “I feel like it’s raining all over the world” resonate in ways that only Benton could deliver. Other tunes such as “My Way” and “I Gotta Be Me” are given incredible soul-countrified arrangements here, and in Benton’s hands each has a certain existential quality and depth. Benton’s two self-penned tunes—the tender-eyed “Baby” and the R&B popping “Where Do I Go From Here”—swing and sway on Benton’s rich, warm, and confident voice. Bert Berns’ soul-blues classic “A Little Bit of Soap” transcends its novelty tag, and the scorching Little Milton hit “We’re Gonna Make It” is a real treat here with its stinging horns and hard-blues guitars. This Arif Mardin–produced 1970 album was a stunning comeback for man who’d already defined what an R&B masterpiece was, on many yesteryear hits such as “Endlessly” and the once-ubiquitous “The Boll Weevil Song.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Brook Benton took Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” to an elevated plane on both the pop charts and in a spiritual sense. The tinkling piano and sentiment-stroking strings support Benton’s world-weary vocal beautifully, and phrases such as “I feel like it’s raining all over the world” resonate in ways that only Benton could deliver. Other tunes such as “My Way” and “I Gotta Be Me” are given incredible soul-countrified arrangements here, and in Benton’s hands each has a certain existential quality and depth. Benton’s two self-penned tunes—the tender-eyed “Baby” and the R&B popping “Where Do I Go From Here”—swing and sway on Benton’s rich, warm, and confident voice. Bert Berns’ soul-blues classic “A Little Bit of Soap” transcends its novelty tag, and the scorching Little Milton hit “We’re Gonna Make It” is a real treat here with its stinging horns and hard-blues guitars. This Arif Mardin–produced 1970 album was a stunning comeback for man who’d already defined what an R&B masterpiece was, on many yesteryear hits such as “Endlessly” and the once-ubiquitous “The Boll Weevil Song.”

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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

HOMETOWN
Camden, SC
BORN
September 19, 1931

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