George Benson – Good King Bad

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More Jazz Recordings with Hot Stampers

  • INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple (A+++) sound on both sides of this original CTI pressing
  • Open and transparent throughout, with wonderfully full-bodied guitars, solid bass and huge amounts of funky jazz energy
  • This is the kind of spacious, low-distortion, dynamic and energetic sound Rudy Van Gelder was getting in the mid-’70s – if you think he was better in the sixties, you need to play some of these recordings from the ’70s that show off just how good his work could be
  • We are exceptionally tough graders these days – you may have no problem with the surfaces of this pressing at all (and if you do, we are happy to refund your money, just say the word)
  • 4 1/2 Stars: “The R&B elements [are] stronger, the sound and mix are more attuned to the dancefloor… and as a result, the record cooks and dances… Buy this one for “Cast Your Fate,” but there is plenty more to savor here.”
  • If you’re a George Benson fan, or perhaps a fan of mid-’70s Jazz Guitar, this title from 1976 is surely a Must Own
  • The complete list of titles from 1976 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

This vintage CTI pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What The Best Sides Of Good King Bad Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1976
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For On Good King Bad

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Theme From Good King Bad
One Rock Don’t Make No Boulder
Em

Side Two

Cast Your Fate To The Wind
Siberian Workout
Shell Of A Man

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

The R&B elements get stronger, the sound and mix are more attuned to the dancefloor, yet this brings out the best in George Benson’s funky side. Thanks in part to the more rigid beat, Benson pares down his style to its rhythmic essentials, refusing to spray notes all over the place at random, and as a result, the record cooks and dances. His treatment of Vince Guaraldi’s “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” hugely complemented by Joe Farrell’s wistfully prancing flute, is a mini-masterpiece in the use of space, of hitting exactly the right stabbing note right in the pocket. Again, Creed Taylor turns to a James Brown alumnus, David Matthews, for arrangements, and he discreetly and wisely stays out of Bad George’s way. Buy this one for “Cast Your Fate,” but there is plenty more to savor here.

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