Our Top 10 George Benson songs looks back at the songs of one of the most gifted guitarists and singers of the past 60 years. When digging back into George Benson’s catalog, one will find an artist who began his career in the early 1960s as a jazz artist and then shifted towards the pop world in the mid 1970s. Yet, he never left his jazz roots completely behind. Instead, he fueled his slick pop music with his impressive virtuoso guitar skills and dynamic abilities into a pop, jazz, r&b soul sound that was celebrated far beyond the jazz world he had earlier belonged too. His success in the 70’s brought him a mass cultural audience while also earning multiple Grammy Awards and nominations along the way. Throughout his career, George Benson has released thirty six studio albums while also releasing eight spectacular live albums. George Benson has also performed as a guitarist on close to one hundred and twenty other albums by various artists.
Our Top 10 George Benson songs list is an attempt to showcase ten George Benson songs split between his jazz and pop careers. The first half of the list will highlight his 1960s and early 70s work as a jazz artist. The second half will present some of his huge hits from the 1970s and 80s. Of course, there are so many George Benson songs that are missing from this list simply because there is no room for them all, but as in all our top 10 lists, we hope it serves as an introduction for those unfamiliar with George Benson’s songs and as a tribute to those who are.
# 10 – Take Five
As stated in the intro, the first half of our top 10 George Benson songs list will take a look at five killer George Benson songs from his early days as a jazz artist. Presented here is George Benson’s takes on Dave Brubeck’s classic number “Take Five.” Listening to George Benson play Brubeck’s memorable piano lick from the song on guitar is simply stunning. This fantastic recording was released on the album Bad Benson. The album was released on CTI Records in 1974.
# 9 – Billie’s Bounce
Continuing with our top 10 George Bensons songs list we turn to the year 1968. That year George Benson released the album Giblet Gravy. Most of the songs that appeared on the album were jazz cover versions of pop and rock songs. However, the title track presented here was composed by George Benson. The album also showcased some of the best jazz musicians of the time period playing along with George Benson including Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Eric Gale, Pepper Adams and Billy Cobham.
# 8 – Clockwise
Our look back at George Benson’s jazz highlights brings us too this smoking track entitled “Clockwise.” The song was released on the album It’s Uptown. The album was released in 1966. It was George Benson’s second studio album release. The record featured the George Benson quartet which consisted of Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone, Bennie Green on trombone, Lonnie Smith on organ and Jimmy Lovelace on drums. “Clockwise,” was the album’s opening track. Benson’s playing on this track is astonishing. “Clockwise,” was also composed by George Benson.
# 7 – Here Comes The Sun / I Want You (She’s So Heavy)
George Benson’s The Other Side of Abbey Road was released in 1970 on CTI Records. The album is an orchestrated jazz pop record that covers five songs from the Beatles legendary album Abbey Road. This entire album is brilliant. However the recording, performance and total arrangement of the song “Here Comes the Sun,” into “I Want You,” is simply a masterpiece. George Benson’s playing and singing shines brighter than the sun itself on this one.
# 6 – The Cooker
We close out our Jazz section of this top 10 George Benson songs list which one of our favorite George Benson songs of all time. This one is real killer. This heavy duty Jazz cut “The Cooker,” was released on the album The George Benson Cookbook. The song featured the George Benson quartet in one of their hardest driving recordings on record. “The Cooker,” was written by George Benson. It was the album’s opening cut. The George Benson Cookbook was released in 1966. This was a completely different sound from the next set of songs that we are about to present.
# 5 – Breezin’
We open up the second half of our George Benson songs list with the title track to an album that has been established as the most successful commercial album of George Benson’s career. The album’s title cut Breezin’ stands as the perfect crossover song that took George Benson from his Jazz world of the 60s and early 70s into the commercial pop world where he became so successful as an artist of integrity, substance and such a cool style. This song just grooves. The Breezin‘ album was released in 1976.
# 4 – Turn Your Love Around
If this song sounds like a crossover between the band’s Toto and Chicago’s with George Benson singing lead and playing guitar it would completely make sense, because it was written by Toto’s Steve Lukather and Chicago’s Bill Champlin. The song “Turn Your Love Around,” was released on George Benson’s greatest hits album issued in 1981. The song is the perfect fusion of pop, soul, jazz and rock that become a popular style in the early 80s as a counter to New Wave Music. The song went to number one on the United States Billboard rhythm and blues charts.
# 3 – Give Me The Night
One more time we turn to the early 1980s with another big-time George Benson song entitled “Give Me The Night.” The was song released on the album of the same name in 1980. “Give Me The Night, straddled the genres of pop, r&b and disco giving George Benson another number one hit on the Billboard R&B charts. George Benson also won a Grammy Award in 1981 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the song “Give Me The Night.”
# 2 – On Broadway
George Benson made this classic song “On Broadway,” his own in 1978 when he released this fabulous live version of “On Broadway,” on his album Weekend in L.A. George Benson had tremendous success with his version earning a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance. An award most deserving as Benson’s vocal performance is out of the world on this one. George Benson’s version also peaked higher on the charts than any others artist’s version. George Benson hit number seven on the Billboard Top 100. The Drifters version peaked at number nine. The song has been covered by so many other artists of many different musical genres. From Neil Young to James Taylor, from Eric Carmen to the Dave Clark Five, the song “On Broadway,” has traveled many roads. In the end the man who had the most success with the song and who many believed delivered the definite version was the great George Benson.
# 1 – This Masquerade
We close out our top 10 George Benson songs list with the classic track “This Masquerade.” The song was released on George Benson’s Grammy Award winning album Breezin’ in 1977. The song was originally written by Leon Russell who released a beautiful version of his song. It was also covered in the early 1970s by The Carpenters and singer Helen Reddy. However, it was George Benson’s exciting scat filled version that blew everyone away. George Benson won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for the song “This Masquerade,” in 1977.
Top 10 George Benson songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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