Soundchecks Music Reviews

Jazz Channel - Ben E. King

Director: Gary Price

Aviva DVD (2000)

The Jazz Channel Presents BEN E. KING

review by Richard G. Vander

In case you don't know this singer, I should point out that he was a member of The Drifters during the group's heyday, but turned solo after one of their many and various line-up changes.

This show features 18 songs, including classics like Save The Last Dance, Under The Boardwalk (King asserts this is the greatest sing-along tune ever), Up On The Roof, Stand By Me, and How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You - though it's ironic to note that King had already split from the band long before some of the material presented here was originally recorded. That said, the instant-recognition factor is high with some of these 'golden oldies'.

But enough nitpicking, is this any good, you might ask. Only if you don't mind that King arranges pop R 'n' B as easy listening is the answer. There's an occasional funky guitar or sax solo, and the horns are lively enough, but King's voice is overly mellow with age. At 62, he seems breathless and a trifle bland, and lacks the range for this sort of repertoire (which is a young man's game, after all), so that a few of the songs just fade away into self-indulgent warbling. This is pleasant enough, but it's unexceptional fare - even for fans of The Drifters.

DVD extras: Meet The Artist interview (11 minutes), three sound options - Dolby digital 5.1 or 2.0 or DTS 5.1 - and there's also a TV spot for the Jazz Channel, song finder jumps to any of 18 tracks.


Edited by Tony Lee
for PIGASUS Press