February 9, 2023
Ben E. King – Supernatural Soul


Ben E. King – Supernatural Soul

Cleopatra Records

http://cleorecs.com/

11 tracks.38 minutes

When this arrived in the mail I said to myself, “But he’s gone.” So I read the promo materials. “The great soul legend Ben E. King is joined by friends and admirers on these recut versions of King’s most beloved hits! King’s voice sounds as good as ever on this collection while funky bass icon Bootsy Collins breathes new life into “Supernatural Thing, Part 1” while up-and-coming R&B artist Bette Smith joins blues guitar phenom Ronnie Earl on a rousing version of “Stand By Me!” King’s influence can continue to be felt and heard in retro soul artists such as Black Pumas, Joss Stone and more!” Ok, so we’re remastering some of his stuff with  current artists laying on some new stuff.  Frankly, I was  not so enthused, but then I played the CD. What they’ve done here is similar to Nat King Cole and his daughter Natalie, only with a few more artists.

“Stand By Me” featuring Bette Smith & Ronnie Earl begins as usual with Mr. King, but then Bette comes in for her part and then a duet and it’s cool. Ronnie Earl adds som restrained and tasteful licks and it works, too! “Supernatural Thing, Part I” features Bootsy Collins on a bass that goes way down low.  Funky and well done!  The classic “Spanish Harlem” features Rafael Riqueni adding some very slick flamenco guitar to the mix. “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” is a re-recording that sounds fresh and clean.

Next is the re-recorded version of “Amor” which also sounds sweet and new. The same is true for “Do It In The Name Of Love,” “I Had A Love” and “Seven Letters.”

The 2022 re-mix of “Stand By Me”  is haunting cool. Then it’s an instrumental  version of “Supernatural Thing, Part I” which also  features Bootsy Collins and it’s get down, get dirty and get funky good. The finale is a “Drifters Medley: This Magic Moment / Dance With Me / There Goes My Baby / Save The Last Dance For Me.” This is apparently not on the vinyl version as it is listed as an exclusive CD bonus track.  It’s a nicely redone set of tunes in a great medley of King classic from the Drifters.

Nostalgically cool and well done renditions and remixes of Ben E. King. Ok, the originals are classics but this remastering and re-recording is done with good taste, with excellent musicians and with great respect to an iconic figure from soul and R&B of my youth.  It was a fantastic trip down memory lane!

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