March 22nd it’s Happy Birthday for George Benson, born in 1943.

This post is about two interesting items that feature George Benson’s back catalogue from the early 1970’s. Spotify playlists are included, even if you don’t have access to Spotify, there is some interesting side information.

Writing about George Benson is difficult, much has already been written by both critics and authors. Benson’s autobiography, penned with Alan Goldsher[1]Benson: The Autobiography: Benson, George, Goldsher, Alan: 9780306822292: Amazon.com: Books is a must have for serious fans.

I have a few things I’m working on that have not been previously generally available or common knowledge, but they are not ready yet. I did a Benson four-fer back at the start of the pandemic[2]Happy Birthday George Benson – Creed Taylor Produced (ctproduced.com) and thought about a second for this year.

Original Album Classics

Recently I also had an email that asked about rereleases of Benson’s CTI material. Since it came from a European subscriber, I recommended a copy of the Sony/Legacy 5x CD set “Original Album Classics”, released in 2007[3]https://www.discogs.com/master/1923867-George-Benson-Original-Album-Classics.

While poking around on Spotify looking for tracks, I realized I could replicate the CD set as a playlist. If you are new to George Benson, this playlist covers pretty well the period before Benson became a superstar following the release of his album “Breezin” in 1976, which featured “This Masquerade” the GRAMMY award for “Record Of The Year”.

The irony of the CD set and playlist is that what makes it great are the additional tracks, mixes, remixes and edits that were not on the original albums.

Reading reviews, many note that of the CD set ” four of the albums are mislabeled and came in the wrong sleeves.” It’s still available new, so buyer beware. The Spotify albums and playlist don’t have this problem.

Spotify isn’t great for musicians; the payments are insignificant except for the top artists who can get tens of millions of streams. Spotify though is a great resource for research on older tracks and albums. Streaming payments go to the licensee which for old tracks is rarely the musician.

Live At Casa Caribe ’73

Interestingly, one of the best George Benson live sets has been floating around for a long time. Recorded live at the Casa Caribe on April 29th, 1973 in Plainfield NJ. The recording was only available on reel-to-reel tape copy until the early 1980’s when it saw it’s first “release”. It’s been subject to unofficial release almost 100 times[4]https://www.discogs.com/master/368176-George-Benson-George-Duvivier-Al-Harewood-Mickey-Tucker-Jazz-On-A-Sunday-Afternoon-Vol-I since then. Some of the earliest releases were blocked/withdrawn after legal action from Benson’s team or Sony.

It’s not clear if they’ve given up now, with it likely costing more in legal fees that it generates in revenue, or if there is now a formal release version. The Spotify version carries both ℗ and © for HHO in 2018. HHO is the UK label, licensee and publishers, Henry Hadaway Organisation[5]https://www.hho.co.uk/history. Hadaway and his organization have fought many music copyright battles.

Anyway, it’s a great live set, featuring George Duvivier(acoustic bass), Al Harewood(drums), Mickey Tucker(piano) and George Benson(guitar, vocals). Enjoy.

Happy Birthday Mr Bad Bad Benson!

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