Deep Dive: George Benson, GIVE ME THE NIGHT

Thursday, March 22, 2018
George Benson, GIVE ME THE NIGHT

Today we celebrate the birthday of George Benson, a legend in more realms of music than we’re going to take time to count up, but we are going to set aside a few minutes and a few paragraphs to spotlight his first album of the ‘80s, an LP which not only topped both the R&B and Jazz charts but also delivered a title track which became the biggest pop hit of his career.

Produced by Quincy Jones, GIVE ME THE NIGHT was actually the first album to be released on Jones’s then-new label, Qwest Records, which made it a relatively high-profile LP from the get-go. In addition, the album prominently featured another Qwest artist: Patti Austin, who – in addition to providing backing vocals on the opening track, “Love X Love,” as well as the title track, “Dinorah Dinorah,” “Star of a Story (X),” and “Turn Out the Lamplight” – also takes lead vocals on “Moody’s Mood” and “Love Dance.”

In addition to having Jones twiddling the knobs for the album, GIVE ME THE NIGHT also had the tremendous musical advantage of having half of its songs written by Rod Temperton, including all three of its singles: “Give Me The Night,” “Love X Love,” and “Turn Out the Lamplight.” And that’s not to mention the top-notch musicians who were backing Benson, including guitarist Lee Ritenour, drummer Carlos Vega, and keyboardists Herbie Hancock and George Duke.

As noted, GIVE ME THE NIGHT was a tremendous success, topping both the R&B and Jazz charts while climbing all the way to #3 on the Billboard 200. In addition, Benson walked away with three Grammy Awards – Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, Best Jazz Vocal Performance – Male, and Best R&B Instrumental Performance – while Quincy Jones and Jerry Hey won for Best Instrumental Arrangement. 

Surprisingly, Benson and Jones never collaborated on another album, but maybe they felt as though they’d ever top this one. Once you give it another listen, you might well agree.

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