Picks and Pans Review: In Your Eyes
updated 08/01/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/01/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Wherever they may be, Louie and Jelly Roll and Bessie and Duke and Bird and the rest of them must be shaking their heads over some of the recent developments in George Benson's career—and not in time with the music, either. It's fine that Benson has become a huge commercial hit. It's okay that from being a superb guitarist who occasionally sang he has gone to being a superb singer—intelligent and sensitive—who also plays guitar. It's not so good that pop star excesses have begun to creep in. Most notable about this album is its cover; in both the front and back photographs, Benson has a strange, funereal cast to his face. The reason, apparently, is that someone decided Benson needed a hair-and-makeup artist ("Quiet Fire" gets the credit) before the photographs were taken. What's worse, that sort of concern with pointless superficiality infects some of the music too. Benson lapses into Barry White gushing on Inside Love (So Personal), a breathy tune by the hot New York composer Kashif. And he boogies over in the general direction of disco on Lady Love Me (One More Time). Such criticisms notwithstanding, most of the album is palatable pop. Benson deals easily with Late at Night by Top 40 regulars Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and with Use Me by Mann, Weil and James Ingram. He lends a warm tenderness to his vocal on the 1974 Roberta Flack hit Feel Like Makin' Love. Benson also keeps his hand in on guitar, on two instrumental that show he is far from having lost his ability to stray off into solos of wistful complexity. That he is still a marvelous musician is more than apparent. Wash your face and come home, George; all is forgiven.