Mon. Oct. 25, 2021

George Benson – El Barrio (MAW Mix)

Classics: George Benson feat. Joe Sample – El Barrio (MAW Mix) (GRP)

“Yes, this is the ghetto…” And it brings us back to the souvenir of the late Donny Hathaway and his 1970 classic of the likes. Although what we have here is more of an extrapolation of it. Almost an instrumental improvisation as a matter of fact around its generic vocal hook. And what a jam this is. With luminaries such as Claudia Acuña, Lisa Fisher, Richard Sade, India and Roy Ayers in the backing vocals. But also Luisito Quintero on percussion and timbales. Not to mention Joe Sample on keys with Tommy LiPuma and Masters At Work sharing the production duties.

Comin’ as a follow-up to the memorable ‘You Can Do It’ from the Nuyorican Soul 1996 album. But also ‘Song For My Brother’ the year after. ‘The Ghetto / El Barrio’ brilliantly confirmed the connection between George Benson and both Louie Vega and Kenny Dope in the late 90’s.

As its title suggests (‘El Barrio’) is a boiling Latin Jazz rendition of ‘The Ghetto’ in so to say 2 acts. The first one somehow sounding like what could have been a meeting between Hathaway and Santana at the time. More or less bringin’ us back to the souvenir of the memorable ‘Oye Como Va’. Before opening itself to the final standing like a firework with the protagonists givin’ all what they have…

What’s the value of your vinyl record?

Much of a prodigy, Pittsburgh, PA-born George Benson started playing ukulele in a corner drug store where he got paid a few Bucks at the early age of 7. A year later, he would play guitar in an unlicensed nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights before it got closed down by the police. Two years after, he released his first single record – ‘She Makes Me Mad’ – on RCA-Victor as Little Georgie

He got to prominence in the 60’s playing Soul/Jazz with organist Jack McDuff, before launching his own career, evolving from Jazz to R&B. He defined what would become a unique signature style along the years. A style which one can summarize as singing and scatting in collusion with his unique kind of play inspired by Gypsy Jazz. As if his voice and guitar (an Ibañez) were coming together as one…

The mid-70’s happened to be a turning point for him. Beginning with his arrival on Warner. His partnership with producer Tommy LiPuma, and the release of ‘Breezin’, his debut-LP for the label. An album which marked the beginning of his most successful period commercially speaking. It eventually got him to win a Grammy Award for “Record Of The Year” in 1977. Meanwhile it was also nominated for “Song Of The Year” and for “Best Pop Vocal Performance (Male)”, spawning 2 hit singles: its title song and ‘This Masquerade’.

From then, Benson would embark on an continuous series of successes. Delivering classics such as ‘Nature Boy’, ‘The World Is A Ghetto’ and ‘Give Me The Night’. But also ‘Love Ballad’ or ‘Love X Love’ among others. And eventually working with Masters At Work in the mid-90’s on cuts such as ‘You Can Do It’, ‘Song For My Brother’ and ‘El Barrio’.

The man eventually resurfaced by the end of 2015 with Little Anthony on ‘Electric Together’. With the latter soon after receiving remixing work courtesy of Nigel Lowis.

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