Smothered by the indulgence of his rock star ranking, Jack White steps into the eccentricities of the supergroup, and at first glance, this seems to be a band where White's imposing presence could overshadow the rest. Not the case with these Raconteurs. Teaming with fellow Detroit songwriter Brendan Benson and Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, the rhythm section from Cincinnati band the Greenhornes, White exhales a bit, deferring enough to his mates to make Broken Boy Soldiers play like a team effort. Following the Benson blueprint, "Steady as She Goes," which opens as a slice of 1960's radio pop, the record steers away from pigeonholing the rest of the way. White's in a Middle Eastern mood for the title track as he pulls off a wicked Robert Plant howl, while Lawrence and Keeler excel on the chorus-strong "Intimate Secretary" and the optimistic acoustic rocker "Yellow Sun." Like so many all-star bands before them, The Raconteurs could be one and done. But don't place the blame on this fertile and genuine debut.
In Concert – Carnegie Hall is George Benson's final recording for Creed Taylor's CTI label, and was mostly recorded on one night in 1975. There was some additional recording done at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in 1976, where Taylor replaced the original rhythm section of Wayne Dockery on bass and Marvin Chapell on drums with Will Lee and Steve Gadd, for whatever reason Taylor had at the time. Regardless, this is a solid "live" effort with Benson cooking on all burners, beginning with a monster version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," which had been cut on an earlier album and had become a staple in the live set.
Recorded live at Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Ireland, in 2000, these ten tracks are pleasant re-workings of guitarist and vocalist George Benson's jazz-pop hits of the '70s. To his credit, Benson isn't just a human jukebox re-creating well-known songs and sidestepping any spontaneity that derives from a live performance. For instance, his band, which includes keyboardist Joe Sample, gets to stretch out a bit, showing off their improvisational skills on "This Masquerade," "On Broadway," and particularly on Sample's "Deeper Than You Think." Alongside his seven-member group, Benson employs the BBC Big Band and musicians from the Ulster Orchestra who provide a real lushness that enhances the music instead of utilizing the cheesy synthesizer strings that often marred some of his work in the '80s and '90s. Fans of Benson's early sessions for Columbia or A&M may not rush out to purchase this, but those who favor Breezin' will find some pleasant moments here.