George Benson – The Other Side Of Abbey Road (1969)

FrontCover1George Washington Benson (born March 22, 1943) is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He began his professional career at the age of 19 as a jazz guitarist.

A former child prodigy, Benson first came to prominence in the 1960s, playing soul jazz with Jack McDuff and others. He then launched a successful solo career, alternating between jazz, pop, R&B singing, and scat singing. His album Breezin’ was certified triple-platinum, hitting no. 1 on the Billboard album chart in 1976. His concerts were well attended through the 1980s, and he still has a large following. Benson has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The Other Side of Abbey Road is a 1970 studio album by American guitarist George Benson of songs from the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road. It was his last album for A&M Records. The front cover is a photograph of Benson by Eric Meola in E 53rd Street, Midtown East, New York City.

Online music service Rhapsody praised the album, calling it “winning”, a “delightful release”, and citing it as one of their 20 favorite cover albums. (wikipedia)

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Just three weeks after the U.S. release of the Beatles’ swan song, Abbey Road, Creed Taylor ushered George Benson into the studio to begin a remarkably successful pop-jazz translation of the record (complete with a parody of the famous cover, showing Benson with guitar crossing an Eastern urban street). It is a lyrical album, with a hint of the mystery and a lot of the cohesive concept of the Beatles’ original despite the scrambled order of the tunes. Benson is given some room to stretch out on guitar, sometimes in a bluesy groove, and there are more samples of his honeyed vocals than ever before (oddly, his voice would not be heard again by record-buyers until he signed with Warner Bros.).

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Don Sebesky’s arrangements roam freely from baroque strings to a full-throated big band, and Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Fortune, and Hubert Laws get some worthy solo space. Yet for all its diversity, the record fits together as a whole more tightly than any other George Benson project, thanks to his versatile talents and the miraculous overarching unity of the Beatles’ songs. One wonders if the Fab Four liked it, too. (by Richard S. Ginell)

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Personnel:
Wayne Andre (trombone, euphonium)
Don Ashworth (saxophone)
Ray Barretto (percussion)
George Benson (guitar, vocals)
Phil Bodner (flute, oboe)
Ron Carter (bass)
Mel Davis (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Sonny Fortune (saxophone)
Bernie Glow (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Andy Gonzalez (percussion)
Freddie Hubbard (trumpet)
Bob James (keyboards, harpsichord)
Herbie Hancock (keyboards, harpsichord)
Ernie Hayes (keyboards, harpsichord)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)
Hubert Laws (flute)
Idris Muhammad (drums)
Jerome Richardson (saxophone, clarinet, flute)
Ed Shaughnessy – drums
Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Don Sebesky – arrangements
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string section:
George Ricci (cello)
Raoul Poliakin (violin)
Max Pollikoff (violin)
Emanuel Vardi (viola)

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Tracklist:
01. Golden Slumbers / You Never Give Me Your Money (Lennon/McCartney) 4.47
02. Because / Come Together (Lennon/McCartney) 7.26
03. Oh! Darling (Lennon/McCartney) 4.02
04. Here Comes The Sun / I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (Lennon/McCartney) 9.00
05. Something (Harrison) / Octopus’s Garden (Starkey / The End (Lennon/McCartney) 6.22

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More from George Benson:
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