Whether he gets (enough) credit or not from jazz heads, guitarist George Benson certainly created the template for smooth jazz , with 1975's Good King Bad a perfect example of the style in its infant stages. Benson combines his classy, Wes Montgomery-inspired guitar style with funky material ("Hold On I'm Coming"), yearning balladry ("Cast Your Fate To the Wind"), plush arrangements, and, on one song, buttery vocals for a classic slice of easygoing jazz.
Like the sublimely seedy roadside joints of America’s rural South — where you can shoot pool, buy fishing worms and have your lawnmower repaired all in the same room — Fetchin Bones are dedicated to the sort of unexpected variety that somehow seems to work. On their debut album, the North Carolina quintet peddles an exciting mix of revved-up rock, country twang, folk, blues and swing, driving it all home with unrestrained energy and unpolished charm. The crazed quaver in singer Hope Nicholls’ voice provides the heart of the Bones’ sound; three songs without her lead vocals are the album’s weakest cuts. Producer Don Dixon admirably translates the group’s wild-eyed persona to vinyl, but this is a band that must be seen live for a full grasp of their eclectic frenzy. Delightfully different graduates of the R.E.M.-inspired school of Southern pop. (The CD and cassette add three tracks.)
In retrospect, it is not hard to find hints of a coming change in the final album Cat Stevens made before a near-death experience and a religious conversion.
Jimmy Smith wasn't the first organ player in jazz, but no one had a greater influence with the instrument than he did; Smith coaxed a rich, grooving tone from the Hammond B-3, and his sound and style made him a top instrumentalist in the 1950s and '60s, while a number of rock and R&B keyboardists would learn valuable lessons from Smith's example.