Saturday, 1 August 2015

"BROOK BENTON: There Goes That Song Again" by HERWIG GRADISCHNIG and HANS MAITNER - A Review Of 2015 Music Mentor Books Paperback In English by Mark Barry...

"...A Rockin' Good Way..." 

Originally published in Germany in 2010 as the last word on Brook Benton’s remarkable recording career and equally colourful private life – "There Goes That Song Again" is now updated and republished in English as a tall paperback (April 2015) by York's 'Music Mentor Books'. And I have to say it’s a magnificent tome that comes buffed up with a stupendous Worldwide Discography stretching an impressive 200 pages (it has also has info on chart hits, him as a songwriter, sheet music, his songs recorded by other artists, his TV and Film appearances etc).

Not quite Soul nor Rhythm 'n' Blues – South Carolina's Brook Benton was often viewed as Easy Listening by his record companies and I suppose by his public – but this serious work of affection goes a long way to arguing that his vocal prowess and way with a tune means he should now be seen on the same par as the greats - like say Sam Cooke. Yet like Jackie Wilson and Bobby Womack – Benton is a Black American Soul Singer and First Class Entertainer who's in danger of being a chart/hitmaking footnote instead of being revered – a talent that time has forgotten and criminally so.

Penned by Austrian authors and lifelong fans Herwig Gradischnig and Hans Maitner – you get 434 pages of in-depth study that includes interviews conducted with family members. Part 1 visits his early childhood, his rise to fame on Mercury, RCA, Reprise and Atlantic’s Cotillion Records, his Stage Craft, his Personality and his social commitment to youth projects. The text from Pages 22 to 212 is peppered with great black and white period photos – on stage with Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington – his 1959 tour bus – with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin of the Rat Pack - in the studio with Margie Singleton and Damita Jo – posters for concerts with Mary Wells and The Penguins - mobbed by audiences in South Africa’s Johannesburg in 1971 and so on... The last few pages even reproduce the American Funeral Service of 1988, Obits and a final shot of his headstone (Brook Benton, 1938-1988).

The Discography has 660 entries (apparently 300 more than previous printed efforts) and begins with his December 1949 recordings with Bill Landford, The Sandmen and Chuck Willis in 1954 and 1955 and his own debut with "Ooh" in 1955 on Okeh 7058. It then goes into his long and productive stint with Mercury Records (duets with Dinah Washington) and there's even US Radio Spots and Transcription Discs. The exhaustive US Discography is followed by a UK equivalent - then a Worldwide section which features countries like Angola, Hong Kong, New Zealand and one LP from Uruguay! Smartly the endless lists are broken up with LP sleeves, label bags, demo copies etc...

American columnist Dick Kleiner said of Brook Benton's deep affecting tone - "...He has a rich soft voice and a way of using it that makes a sound like a breeze though a field of cello strings..." After reading this wonderful book – I'm inclined to think he was so much more. An absolute must own for fans and a great read for the curious. Well done to all involved...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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