This is the peak of George Benson’s courtship of the mass market — a superbly crafted and performed pop album with a large supporting cast — and wouldn’t you know that Quincy Jones, the master catalyst, is the producer. Q’s regular team, including the prolific songwriter Rod Temperton and the brilliant engineer Bruce Swedien, is in control, and Benson’s voice, caught beautifully in the rich, floating sound, had never before been put to such versatile use.
On “Moody’s Mood,” Benson really exercises his vocalese chops and proves that he is technically as fluid as just about any jazz vocalist, and he become a credible rival to Al Jarreau on the joyous title track. Benson’s guitar now plays a subsidiary role — only two of the ten tracks are instrumentals — but Q has him play terrific fills behind the vocals and in the gaps, and the engineering gives his tone a variety of striking, new, full-sounding timbres. The instrumentals themselves are marvelous: “Off Broadway” is driving and danceable, andIvan Lins’ “Dinorah, Dinorah” grows increasingly seductive with each play. Benson should have worked with Jones from this point on, but this would be their only album together.
By Richard S. Ginell/AMG