Russell Cunningham, a close friend who often went body surfing with Obama, remembered his friend Barry for introducing him to new music and for giving him sound advice.
“He introduced us to jazz and George Benson when we were all listening to rock ‘n’ roll,” said Cunningham, now an attorney in Sacramento, Calif.
This seems innocuous enough, even though it sounds like “jazz” and “George Benson” are two entirely-separate concepts, a view which I suspect Zanotti endorses:
Now, honestly, if the intention of this piece was to make Obama more accessible to the Lite Rock crowd, their inclusion of the man who hoisted “Turn Your Love Around” on an unsuspecting public might have been a shrewd journalistic move. It’s not really even “blues” per se … it’s a bit more mid-70s Motown one-hit wonder than anything remotely resembling “music.” Even if we were to say, admit that “On Broadway” has some artistic merit, it still doesn’t bely any kind of actual taste. George Bush had Van Morrison and Eric Clapton. Condoleezza hangs on to the Classics, and a bit of Cream. Even Hillary Clinton managed to sneak on the Beatles. Obama is jammed in between C.W. McCall and Gary Glitter on someone’s smooth jazz iMix.
That said, may I commend unto you George Benson’s The Other Side of Abbey Road, recorded right on the heels of that Beatles masterwork in the fall of 1969, and easily the best thing ever put out under Benson’s name. It’s a classic Creed Taylor production with Rudy Van Gelder twiddling the knobs and Freddie Hubbard contributing some great trumpet bits here and there. Originally it came out as A&M SP-3028, disappeared too quickly, and was reissued when Breezin’ hit for Benson at Warner Bros. in 1976. If I ever find myself at a watch party, I’m bringing this along.