George Benson

Weekend in L.A.

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Recording live at Los Angeles' Roxy club -- then a showcase for many of the hottest acts in pop -- was just the tonic that George Benson and his Breezin' band needed on this often jumping album. With unusually lively crowds (for a record-industry watering hole) shouting encouragement, the band gets deep into the four-on-the-floor funk and Benson digs in hard, his rhythmic instincts on guitar sharp as ever. The balance between vocals and instrumentals is about even -- George's voice sounds more throaty and soul-oriented than before -- and amid the new material, there is a revisit to a favored CTI-era instrumental, the lovely "Ode to a Kudu." This album also introduced "On Broadway," an extended stomping version of the Drifters' hit that would become Benson's climactic showstopper for years. The only superfluous element is the after-the-fact addition of Nick DeCaro's string synthesizer backdrop; the real Claus Ogerman-arranged thing would have been preferable if strings are a must.

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