Get this crazy baby off my head!


Average White Band & Ben E. King

Average White Band & Ben E. King - Benny And Us - 1977 - Atlantic

One of the most interesting collaborations of the seventies, the soul legend Ben E. King and the progressive Average White Band. The result was a surprisingly good album, and one that has the AWB "fixing" their "bad vocalist" problem by bringing in Ben E King to sing! The album has a great funky sound , and some great tracks on the album include a funky version of "What Is Soul", an earlier hit for King, and "Star In The Ghetto", "Get It Up For Love", and "The Message." A very good album, even if it's a little short. The sound quality is only fair, but it's great to hear these great artists together. Check out the AWB's "Cut the Cake," and "Person to Person" albums for a real taste of just how good this group could be. There is info on their "Feel No Fret" album @ AWB/FNF and it is very worthwhile to hear Ben E. King's brilliant " Shades of Blue" album.


A1 Get It Up For Love (4:33) Congas, Percussion - Nicky Marrero [composed by Ned Doheny]
A2 Fool For You Anyway (5:38) Guitar [Solo] - Jim Mullen [composed by Mick Jones]
A3 A Star In The Ghetto (7:01) Arranged By [Strings, Horns] - Arif Mardin [composed by Phillip Mitchell]
Congas - Ray Barretto
A4 The Message (5:17) Recorded By - Bobby Warner [composed by by The Average White Band, Ben E. King]
B1 What Is Soul (4:34) [composed by Ben E. King, Bob Gallo]
B2 Someday We'll All Be Free (5:13) Arranged By [Strings] - Cengiz Yaltkaya [composed by Donny Hathaway, Ed Howard]
Backing Vocals - Debra Gray , Robin Clark
Recorded By - Bobby Warner
B3 Imagine (4:56) Arranged By [Strings] - Arif Mardin , Cengiz Yaltkaya [composed by John Lennon]
Backing Vocals - Debra Gray , Robin Clark
B4 Keepin' It To Myself (4:30) Congas, Percussion - Nicky Marrero [composed by Alan Gorrie]


Backing Vocals - Luther Vandross
Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals - Alan Gorrie
Drums, Percussion - Steve Ferrone
Guitar - Onnie McIntyre
Guitar, Backing Vocals - Hamish Stuart
Keyboards, Saxophone [Alto] - Malcolm Duncan
Lead Vocals - Ben E. King
Saxophone [Additional Baritone] - Lewis Del Gatto (tracks: A2, B1, B4)
Saxophone [Additional Tenor] - Michael Brecker (tracks: A2, B1, B4)
Trombone [Additional] - Barry Rogers (tracks: A2, B1, B4)
Trumpet [Additional] - Marvin Stamm (tracks: A2, B1, B4) , Randy Brecker (tracks: A2, B1, B4)


Their self-effacing name to the contrary, Average White Band was anything but -- one of the few white groups to cross the color line and achieve success and credibility playing funk, with their tight, fiery sound also belying their Scottish heritage, evoking American R&B hotbeds like Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia instead. Singer/bassist Alan Gorrie, guitarists Hamish Stuart and Onnie McIntyre, tenor saxophonist Malcolm Duncan, keyboardist/saxophonist Roger Ball, and drummer Robbie McIntosh comprised the original Average White Band lineup. Veterans of numerous Scottish soul and jazz groups, they made their debut in 1973 as the opening act at Eric Clapton's Rainbow Theatre comeback gig, soon issuing their debut LP, Show Your Hand, to little notice. After adopting the abbreviated moniker AWB, a year later the band issued their self-titled sophomore effort, topping the American pop charts with the Arif Mardin-produced instrumental "Pick Up the Pieces." The record's mammoth success was nevertheless tempered by the September 23, 1974 death of McIntosh, who died at a Hollywood party after overdosing on heroin. Ex-Bloodstone drummer Steve Ferrone replaced McIntosh for AWB's third album, 1975's Cut the Cake, which scored a Top Ten hit with its title track as well as two other chart entries, "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" and "School Boy Crush." (Put It Where You Want It, issued later that same year, was simply a retitled and repackaged Show Your Hand.) With 1976's Soul Searching, the group reclaimed the full Average White Band name, scoring their final Top 40 hit with "Queen of My Soul." Following the live Person to Person, they issued Benny & Us, a collaboration with soul legend Ben E. King. However, after subsequent outings, including 1978's Warmer Communications, 1979's Feel No Fret, and 1980's Shine, failed to recapture the energy of AWB's peak, the group dissolved in 1982, with Ferrone later joining Duran Duran and Stuart recording with Paul McCartney. Gorrie, Ball, and McIntyre reformed Average White Band in 1989, tapping vocalist Alex Ligertwood for their comeback effort Aftershock. Oft-sampled by hip-hop producers throughout the 1990s, the group continued touring prior to releasing Soul Tattoo in 1996. The live album, Face to Face, followed three years later. © Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide


From the groundbreaking orchestrated productions of the Drifters to his own solo hits, Ben E. King was the definition of R&B elegance. King's plaintive baritone had all the passion of gospel, but the settings in which it was displayed were tailored more for his honey smooth phrasing and crisp enunciation, proving for perhaps the first time that R&B could be sophisticated and accessible to straight pop audiences. King's approach influenced countless smooth soul singers in his wake and his records were key forerunners of the Motown sound. King was born Benjamin Earl Nelson in Henderson, NC, in 1938, and sang with his church choir before the family moved to Harlem in 1947. In junior high, he began performing with a street corner doo wop group called the Four B's, which won second place in an Apollo Theater talent contest. While still in high school, he was offered a chance to join the Moonglows, but was simply too young and inexperienced to stick. He subsequently worked at his father's restaurant as a singing waiter, which led to an invitation to become the baritone singer in a doo wop outfit called the Five Crowns in 1958. The Five Crowns performed several gigs at the Apollo Theater along with the Drifters, whose career had begun to flounder in the years since original lead singer Clyde McPhatter departed. Drifters manager George Treadwell, dissatisfied with the group members' unreliability and lack of success, fired them all in the summer of 1958 and hired the Five Crowns to assume the name of the Drifters (which he owned). The new Drifters toured for about a year, playing to often hostile audiences who knew they were a completely different group. In early 1959, they went into the studio with producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to cut their first records. A song Nelson (still performing under his given name) co-wrote called "There Goes My Baby" became his first lead vocal and the lush backing arrangement made highly unorthodox (in fact, virtually unheard-of) use of a string section. "There Goes My Baby" became a massive hit, laying the groundwork for virtually every smooth/uptown soul production that followed. Over the next two years, Nelson sang lead on several other Drifters classics, including "Dance With Me," "This Magic Moment," "Save the Last Dance for Me," and "I Count the Tears." In 1960, Nelson approached Treadwell about a salary increase and a fairer share of the group's royalties. Treadwell rebuffed him and Nelson quit the group, at this point assuming the more memorable stage name Ben E. King in preparation for a solo career. Remaining on Atlantic, King scored his first solo hit with the stylish, Latin-tinged ballad "Spanish Harlem," a Jerry Leiber/Phil Spector composition that hit the Top Ten in early 1961. The follow-up, "Stand By Me," a heartfelt ode to friendship and devotion co-written by King, became his signature song and an enduring R&B classic; it was also his biggest hit, topping the R&B charts and reaching the pop Top Five. King scored a few more chart singles through 1963, including velvety smooth pop-soul productions like "Amor," "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)," and the Italian tune "I (Who Have Nothing)." In the post-British Invasion years, King had a rough go of it on the pop charts but continued to score R&B hits. 1967's Southern-fried "What Is Soul?" was one of his last singles for Atco; seeking to revive his commercial fortunes, King departed in 1969. A 1970 album on Maxwell, Rough Edges, failed to generate much attention, and King was forced to make a living touring the oldies circuit. In 1975, Atlantic president Ahmet Ertegun caught King's act in a Miami lounge and invited him to re-sign with the label. King scored an unlikely comeback smash with the disco track "Supernatural Thing, Part I," which returned him to the top of the R&B charts in 1975 and also reached the pop Top Five. While he was unable to duplicate that single's success, King recorded several more albums for Atlantic up through 1981, and also collaborated with the Average White Band in 1977 on the album Benny & Us. After leaving Atlantic a second time, King toured in a version of the Drifters beginning in 1982. In 1986, "Stand By Me" was prominently featured in the Rob Reiner film of the same name; re-released as a single, it climbed into the Top Ten all over again. In its wake, King returned to solo recording, issuing a new album every few years all the way up through the '90s. He also guested on recordings by Heaven 17 and Mark Knopfler, among others. King's 1999 album Shades of Blue (on Half Note Records) found him branching out into jazz territory, performing with a big band and guests like Milt Jackson and David "Fathead" Newman. 2006 saw the release of a brand new album, I've Been Around, on True Life Records. © Steve Huey, All Music Guide


A.O.O.F.C said...


diamonddave said...

Jeeziz. I've been looking for a copy of this for ages. I worn the LP out. So, whilst trawling some blog sites, followed the links - and wouldn't you know it - it brought me to AOOFC. Unbelievably, you had it all along. Thank you so much for this little beauty. Psst Don't tell anyone I'm partial to a bit of 70's soul and funk!
Cheers for keeping the link up. Just off to re-live my youth!! Cheers and keep on funking in the free world.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hey,dd. No probs. Glad you found the album. Who gives a flying f**k about musical tastes. As long as the music's got merit, I'll put it up. I love '70's jazz rock, funk, and blues. There's very few artists today producing anything of the '70's calibre. Man, I love anything from Chopin to Abba, simply because the music will last forever. Call me old fashioned, but as I always say, good music is good music. Looking at the X Factor tonight, the quality of the "music" was frighteningly bad. That's all gonna change someday. The musical wheel will turn the full circle, so get down and get with it, brother! TTU soon...P