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.
Some but not all of guitarist George Benson's 1966-1967 Columbia sides are included on this double LP originally released in 1976 – plus some unreleased songs and other tunes that he recorded under organist Lonnie Smith's name. Fitting into the soul-jazz/hard bop idiom, Benson is mostly heard in a quartet with organist Smith, baritonist Ronnie Cuber, and drummer Jimmy Lovelace, although some selections add horns (including trumpeter Blue Mitchell) and more players in the rhythm section. At this point, Benson was still heavily influenced by Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian, but he already had his own approach. The majority of the songs are basic originals by Benson or Smith, and the emphasis is on soulful swinging. Fine music.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. While the phenomenal success of George Benson’s Breezin’ (1976) album may have fattened his wallet; it led the guitarist down a path that dismayed jazz critics worldwide. Indeed, the bulk of Benson’s albums over the past 20 years have featured considerably less jazz and, unfortunately, more pop. Not so with The George Benson Cookbook (1966). This sizzling CD features the then young, hotshot string-picker on 14 swingin’ bebop/soul-jazz tracks. Benson kicks things off in rapid fashion with the aptly titled, "The Cooker." Not only does this track feature blazing licks from Benson, but baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber and organist Lonnie Smith also weigh in with tasty solos.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. George Benson's first LP for Columbia – a hard, heavy, soul jazz slammer that bears no resemblance to his overproduced work of the 70s! The album's a real cooker – recorded hot on the heels of Benson's classic work on Prestige with the Jack McDuff group, and sounding a lot like McDuff's hard wailing organ jazz of the same time. George is working with a group that features a young Lonnie Smith on organ, plus Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Ronnie Cuber on sax, and Charlie Persip on drums – all tightly coming together, and jamming hard on the album's short cooking tracks. Tracks include "Clockwise", "Jaguar", "Hello Birdie", and "Bullfight". Plus, the CD adds five bonus tracks, including "Sideman", "Minor Chant", and the previously unreleased "J.H. Bossa Nova" and "Clockwise (Alternate Take)".
Taken from Columbia's multi-volume jazz primer, this is not bad for a single-company compilation. The selections split down the middle between George Benson's early 1965-1966 Columbia albums and his 1971-1976 CTI output that Columbia now controls; the gaps are obvious but the title of the series neatly narrows the scope of the survey. We hear the young, eager Benson in four cuts from It's Uptown and only two from the superior George Benson Cookbookincluding the spectacular "The Cooker" – before sampling a cut apiece from CTI's Beyond the Blue Horizon, Bad Benson, Good King Bad, and In Concert-At Carnegie Hall…
Unlike Collection, Warner Bros.' second George Benson compilation Best of George Benson only draws from the label's own catalog, so by definition it is a less representative sampler. And even then, it does not give a thorough overview of Benson's 17-year tenure at Warner Bros…
The success of Weekend in L.A. no doubt prompted producer Tommy LiPuma and Warner Bros. to give George Benson another double album (now on one CD) – and this, like its three Warner predecessors, also went Top Ten. It is also, alas, slicker, more romantic in mood, and more bound by perceptions of formula than the others, fussed over in three different studios in earnest search of another hit single (the dance-tempo cover of L.T.D.'s "Love Ballad"). Most of the touring band, including Ronnie Foster, Ralph MacDonald and Phil Upchurch, is back, and Claus Ogerman's soft symphonic touch provides most of the backdrops, with Mike Mainieri supplying the orchestra on three tracks. Even at this point, the great guitarist is still given much room to burn – the balance between instrumentals and vocals remains close – and Benson comes up with some tasty stuff when the rhythm section pushes him on "Nassau Day" and "You're Never Too Far from Me." Ultimately there is just enough jazz content amid the velvet soul to keep guitar buffs interested.