Brook Benton

Today

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Brook Benton had one of his best years in 1970. "Rainy Night in Georgia" was a smash, reaching the top of quite a few charts, and he released two very strong albums for Atlantic offshoot Cotillion. Today was produced by Arif Mardin and recorded in Miami and New York, but it has a very deep Southern feel. Benton croons, cajoles, and emotes his way through some wonderful songs, taking the R&B classic "A Little Bit of Soap" at half-speed and wringing every last bit of soul from it, using every trick he could find on the heartbreaking "Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs" and waltzing breezily through his own lightweight but heavy "Where Do We Go From Here?" He makes songs work that shouldn't: he turns "My Way" into a laid-back tour de force, melts the speakers on the usually schmaltzy "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," and whispers through a powerful version of "I've Gotta Be Me." Most singers would have sunk under the weight of such white-bread selections, but Benton makes them his personal property. And of course there is "Rainy Night in Georgia," which deserves every accolade it gets, because it truly is a soul classic. It certainly makes this an album worth hearing. [Today was paired up with 1970's Home Style for release by DBK Works in 2003.]

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