Ben E. King

Don't Play That Song!

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    8
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Ben E. King's third album is a little short in running time but very high in quality, in terms of the dozen songs here. The title track was the selling point, but couldn't help but be seduced by the exquisite production of "Ecstasy" and "On the Horizon," the latter making about as fine use of harps and an ethereal chorus as one imagines possible -- and when the strings come in, violins and cellos alternately, the sheer beauty of the track just overflows. "Show Me the Way to Your Heart" isn't too far behind, and then "Stand by Me" shores up the opening of the second side -- not that anything here needed shoring up, but it's good that they got the single onto a long-player so it didn't go to waste. Even the lesser material, like "Here Comes the Night" and "First Taste of Love" (the latter a Jerry Leiber/Phil Spector song that bears an uncanny resemblance to Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On"), is interesting to hear for the lively production. This album, like its predecessors, dates from a period in which producers and engineers were figuring out what one could do with soul and R&B in terms of engineering, and the sound separation and textures are nothing if not vibrant and alluring in their own right, separate from the music.

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