Mr. Brook Benton
“Listen – Nothing Takes the Place of You MP3″
Man I’m tired.
It’s one of those weeks where I just can’t seem to catch up.
I was at work today – and Tuesday’s are always tough since I work late on Monday and head in early on Tuesday – and I just felt like crawling under my desk (a la George Costanza), zipping up my hoodie and drifting off to dreamland. It might be the sudden onrush of the cooler weather, it might just be that I’m not devoting enough time to actual sleep. I may “go to bed” early, but reading and listening to the iPod relaxing as they may be, do not have the same recuperative power as actual slumber.
The scary thing is, as far as I’ve been able to tell (with a casual study of anecdotal information) I’m neither the tiredest, nor the hardworkingest person out there.
I’ve always taken the approach to my job that it exists – and I devote a suitable effort to it – in order to finance the rest of my life. I’ve never looked toward my employment for creative fulfillment, and aside from an unhappy few years back in the 80’s when I worked in management, I haven’t really taken my work home with me.
I’m always a lot happier when I’m doing something intellectually demanding, but I’ve resigned myself (after 23 years) to the fact that if someone is going to make demands on my brain, it’s pretty much going to have to be me (thus the blog, reading late into the night and other things along those lines).
Uh, that and the two little kids. I think when they go off to college some day I’m going to take up breeding wolverines as a form of relaxation.
In service of smoothing out my badly wrinkled brain, and reweaving my frayed nerves, I’m going to take a dip in the old Funky16Corners deep soul ballad barrel (a place I don’t go nearly enough), for a visit with the smooth baritone of Mr. Brook Benton.
Those of you that know the name Brook Benton probably associate him with his biggest hit, the 1970 cover of Tony Joe White’s ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ (a song imprinted on my young mind not by the radio, but by an old TV record offer in which ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ was featured prominently).
Benton started his career in the early 50’s in gospel, and moved on to a solid career in rhythm and blues, recording for a variety of labels (Okeh, Vik, Mercury, RCA) until ending up on the Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion in 1968.
Today’s selection was the A-side of his third 45 for Cotillion – released immediately before ‘Rainy Night…’ – a cover of Toussaint McCall’s 1967 Top 10 hit ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’.
I made an offhand reference to this disc (without naming it) a while back as part of a minor (yet not insignificant) weekend haul at the nearby dustbowl/flea market. I haven’t ever held big expectations when digging for vinyl in outdoor flea markets, mainly because of the kind of wear and tear endemic to vinyl in such a setting (i.e. poor storage, heat/direct sunlight, dirt and manhandling). Many a time have I happened upon an interesting 45 or LP at the flea, only to discover deep scratches, ingrained filth and the kind of dishwarps that turn priceless LPs into salad bowls.
There’s also the problem of having to get up early to get the best stuff, and after a week of dragging my ass out of bed at 6:30AM, my inclination on a Saturday is to sleep as long as possible.
However, every now and then I find myself energized and motivated, and head out for a dusty dig.
I found this 45 about 30 seconds after getting out of my car. One of the first stalls I happened upon was a van with a Moms Mabley tape blasting out of it’s speakers at excruciating volume. The things that drew me in wasn’t the vintage Chittlin Circuit comedy, but rather a Skatalites LP jacket taped inside the door of the van (my man DJ Prestige knows exactly who I’m talking about). I asked the proprietor if he had any vinyl, and he pointed to a couple of milk crates inside the van, behind a stack of old Playboy magazines and several piles of what I was pretty sure was actual garbage, but then you never know.
The LPs didn’t yield anything other than standard flea market stuff like ‘First Family’ comedy albums and 1980’s smooth R&B. There was however a box of mostly unsleeved 45s. The small amount of common sense that resides in the back alleys of my mind usually tells me to go right past unsleeved 45s – for all the obvious reasons – but the sick, record collector section of my brain (swollen and all controlling) forces me to pick the records up and go through them no matter how unlikely it is that I might find something of value.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that I made a big score, but I did pick up a couple of interesting 45s, among them the Brook Benton disc you’re downloading now.
Though I owned a copy of Toussaint McCall’s original for a long, long time, I don’t think I actually listened to it for years, mainly because I was preoccupied with it’s b-side, the monumental Hammond instrumental (maybe my favorite) ‘Shimmy’. When I eventually flipped the record over, I felt like a rube because I had ignored this amazing ballad for so long.
Where McCall’s version of ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’ sounds like he recorded it in the organ loft of his local church, Benton (backed by the Muscle Shoals house band) takes a slightly more worldly approach. The arrangement is more developed, with strings and backing singers, and Benton brings his special mixture of old school crooning and late night R&B to the table.
I dig it.
So download the tune, whip it onto the MP3 delivery system of your choice, wait until late at night, turn the lights down low and give it a good listen. I think you’ll dig it too.