These days George Benson is primarily remembered for his soft-soul hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Two of these songs — “Give Me the Night” and “Turn Your Love Around” — have ended up on Yacht Rock playlists in recent years. But there are multiple chapters to Benson’s career. The singer/songwriter and virtuoso guitarist’s debut album came out in early 1964, just a few months after the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. In addition to his many solo records, he has played with the likes of Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.
What is the difference between pastiche and parody, I wonder? The dictionary tells us the first becomes the second when comic intent is sought. That said, pastiche all too often implies a knowing degree of tongue in cheek, and, however lovingly performed, I fear this is where the outcome lies on the Band of Love’s album Folk Fever.
Certainly nobody designed Folk Fever to make you laugh. Indeed, the standard of playing and singing, by a selection of the UK folk scene’s finest established and upcoming names, is exemplary, the love evident in the performances. The key players are probably unknown outside purist circles – they would be Jim Causley, Greg Russell, Alice James and the duo of Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, all of whom have made respectable names for themselves on the folk circuit in Britain. Older timers like Steve Knightley and Phil Beer, aka Show of Hands, perhaps known to these pages for this, and Mike McGoldrick, a flute and pipes whiz currently earning a crust with Mark Knopfler, are along to add gravitas, instrumentally and vocally.
Jerry Leiber, the famed songwriter, passed away yesterday at 78. He was the lyricist in the songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller while Mike Stoller handled the composing. Together they penned such classic pop songs as “Hound Dog,” “Kansas City,” “Stand by Me,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “Yakety Yak,” among many other hits which were originally performed by artists like Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and Ben E.King. In 1995 Leiber and Stoller’s catalog of hits was turned into the Broadway musical Smokey Joe’s Cafe, which was nominated for seven Tony Awards. The duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.