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Herwig Christmas review

BROOK BENTON (1931 -1988)

One of the most beautiful, greatest, most versatile, gifted voices belongs to this man who unfortunately had to die long before his time. To love Brook Benton means to be a good human being. (This sentence is stolen from someone who said this about the uncomparable singer of gunfighter ballads and trail songs, the legendary Marty Robbins, and being a
serious admirer of both Marty and Brook I dared to use it for Brook).

Having recorded and done a lot of personal appearances for almost 30 years, Brook did his
probably last recording in 1983, in Charlotte, North Carolina.The original title of the album
is Beautiful Memories Of Christmas. In an interview on air Brook spoke about the work on this album, about thoughts round Christmas, about memories of his own Christmas being a child in Camden, South Carolina, where he grew up with six sisters and brothers as a child
of a bricklayer and minister of the local church.
During his career Brook Benton recorded Christmas songs now and then - even the famous
Silent Night - but he did only this one Christmas album.

Brook needs a lot of listening to, you've to try to go between the lines and the notes. Brook is
not only singing words set into music. He is able to make songs out of single vocals or words,
he is handling lyrics in a unique, outstanding way, he puts stamp on any song he is doing by giving it a new reading. Brook's vocal skills are incredible his voice....belcanto, on the other hand his perfectly trained voice is providing bel canto on the other hand it is pure expression.
On his Christmas album Brook's voice isn't coming up as strong as on other recordings, but
this depends on the theme. Otherwise he is able to express feelings, thoughts and emotions
of This Time Of The Year ( a song Brook recorded in 1960 for the first time, accompanied by
strings then) perfectly: joy, hope, gladness, but also the the shadows of loneliness and sad-
ness - Chistmas ingredients for a lot of people - pour out of these marvellous interpretations.

Beautiful Memories ...
A fine song, Xmas is for children... memories of childhood come up at this time and make things even more beautiful.

This Time Of The Year
A gently swinging version of the song Brook did in 1959 for Mercury. The swinging piano and Brook's performing show the singers affinity to the elements of jazz. Compare with Merry Christmas All, a tune that shows Brook's ability to work on swinging material clearly. Listen to Brook's special art of varying refrains and to
his sudden changes of ups and downs here.