Picks and Pans Review: 20/20
Benson's transition from guitarist-singer to singer-sometime-guitarist continues apace. That's okay; this album includes some bright new tunes, such as the title track, by Randy Goodrum and Steve Kipner, and Hold Me, by Michael and Daniel Sembello, as well as the old French standard Beyond the Sea (La Mer). The problem is that there are a lot of pop-soul singers at least as good as Benson: Lionel Richie, James Ingram, Luther Vandross, Philip Bailey and Jeffrey Osborne are among those who come quickly to mind. But Benson shows on Stand Up, the only all-instrumental track on this LP, that he is still a uniquely talented jazz guitarist when he sets his mind and pick to it. There's certainly too little of that, and even when Benson scat-sings along with his guitar playing these days, the vocal part of his performance is what is accentuated. It's often hard, unfortunately, to even hear his guitar, an instrument that eminently deserves to be heard. (Warner Bros.)
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