Albums

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Pop - Released November 4, 2002 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard

Pop - Released May 13, 2013 | Parlophone France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released February 28, 2012 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard

Pop - Released January 7, 2011 | Parlophone France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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$12.99

Pop - Released March 15, 1979 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Pop - Released February 16, 2010 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released August 29, 1988 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
In what Benson claimed was a risk, he works with six different production teams, but if diversity was the goal, the result is just the same homogenized, synth/electronic drum-laden, pop/soul sound geared toward someone's perception of what the market would bear. Benson sings well, as always, but again, the biggest problem, as has been the case from In Your Eyes onward, is crummy song material. Without Benson's improvising guitar to take the music somewhere else, all you have left are the so-called tunes -- and brother, that's not a lot. The one blast of fresh air is Curtis Mayfield's oldie "Let's Do It Again," which has a nice groove, and "You're Still My Baby," the sole instrumental, finds the Benson guitar in good shape, if not terribly challenged. "Everybody does it but that don't make it right," sing the voices on one cut -- a fitting epitaph for this album's attempt to chase the charts. ~ Richard S. Ginell
$31.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released September 4, 2009 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
$25.49

Pop - Released January 1, 1997 | Universal Music Division Polydor

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
$11.49

Pop - Released January 1, 1998 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released January 1, 2009 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released July 16, 1980 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
This is the peak of George Benson's courtship of the mass market -- a superbly crafted and performed pop album with a large supporting cast -- and wouldn't you know that Quincy Jones, the master catalyst, is the producer. Q's regular team, including the prolific songwriter Rod Temperton and the brilliant engineer Bruce Swedien, is in control, and Benson's voice, caught beautifully in the rich, floating sound, had never before been put to such versatile use. On "Moody's Mood," Benson really exercises his vocalese chops and proves that he is technically as fluid as just about any jazz vocalist, and he become a credible rival to Al Jarreau on the joyous title track. Benson's guitar now plays a subsidiary role -- only two of the ten tracks are instrumentals -- but Q has him play terrific fills behind the vocals and in the gaps, and the engineering gives his tone a variety of striking, new, full-sounding timbres. The instrumentals themselves are marvelous: "Off Broadway" is driving and danceable, and Ivan Lins' "Dinorah, Dinorah" grows increasingly seductive with each play. Benson should have worked with Jones from this point on, but this would be their only album together. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal Music Division Polydor

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released January 1, 2000 | Universal Music Division Polydor

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
$11.49

Pop - Released January 1, 2003 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
$12.99

Pop - Released January 1, 2002 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
$12.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1999 | Universal Music Division Polydor

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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Pop - Released January 15, 1985 | WM Japan

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
George Benson certainly is a good soul vocalist, fervently turning every phrase as if he meant every lovelorn syllable. Here on 20/20, though, he is shackled by stale pop/soul sentiments and one hack arrangement after another, assembled in no less than 17 studios! Russ Titelman, who shows only a flickering awareness of Benson's huge talent, is the producer, spelled twice by the even more commercial Michael Masser. The only bright spots are the tense high-tech title track and -- surprise -- an elegant Count Basie-like treatment of "Beyond the Sea," and with several jazz luminaries in the all-star band and Frank Foster and Ralph Burns handling the chart. There's only one instrumental, "Stand Up," and it ain't much. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Pop - Released May 18, 1983 | Warner Bros.

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
In search of more platinum, Benson turned to one-time Atlantic Records ace producer Arif Mardin for support. Yet Mardin's best days seemed to be behind him, as this mostly routine package of period R&B backbeats, synthesizer rhythm tracks, and love songs indicates. Any competent soul vocalist could have fit in comfortably here. For jazz fans, Benson's albums at this point became a search for buried treasure, for his guitar time was extremely limited. But when you do encounter a Benson solo, hang on tight. "Love Will Come Again," otherwise a routine soul bumper, concludes with a magnificent solo in octaves that Wes Montgomery would have envied, breathtaking in its economy and swing. Also, check out the instrumental "In Search of a Dream" for proof that George Benson could still burn. ~ Richard S. Ginell

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