Benny Turner review…February 14, 2016…

BENNY TURNER

WHEN SHE’S GONE

NOLA BLUE, INC. RECORDS

I CAN’T LEAVE–PITY ON THIS LOVESICK FOOL–BECAUSE OF YOU–AIN’T NO SUNSHINE–SO DEEP–IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU–HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SO LONESOME–RECONSIDER BABY–THAT’S ALRIGHT–I’LL GET OVER YOU–BLACK NIGHT

Benny Turner is the sho’ nuff real-life brother of Texas blues legend Freddie King.  Both Benny and Freddie, as well as brothers Leon and Leonard, were introduced to the guitar thru the efforts of their mother, Ella Mae (King) Turner.  Her birthday was Valentine’s Day, and, in her memory, Benny has just released his fourth album, “When She’s Gone.’  This set consists of six of his original songs from his 1997 debut, as well as four blistering covers showcasing his undeniably-powerful vocals.

Benny played bass onstage with his brother for years, and later with gospel group The Soul Stirrers, helping to pave the way for the electric bass in contemporary gospel.  He also was bandleader for New Orleans soul legend Marva Wright for over twenty years.  He starts this party with a classic “back door man” cheatin’ tale, but Benny’s so in love with the woman that “I Can’t Leave.”  Duet partner Marva Wright leaves outta that same back door as Benny’s pleading vocal begs for some “Pity On This Lovesick Fool.”  This one has some funky keyboard riffs running throughout, too, adding to the hook of this cut.

Special guest Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin’s slide adds to the pain in Benny’s vocal on the classic “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and returns to give an “uptown,’ Chicago-blues touch on a sweet read of Lowell Fulson’s “Reconsider Baby.”  “Have You Ever Been So Lonesome” again uses keyboard stylings to give this slow-blueser a testifyin’, churchy feel.  And, another special guest, Dr. John, makes a rare appearance as rhythm guitarist on Benny’s jazzy, Fifties’-styled ballad, “Because Of You I can feel sweet life again!”

Our favorite closed the set.  In 1997, Benny had the chance to work with one of his heroes, Charles Brown.  Brown is on piano on “Black Night,” but the song barely made it to the recording session following the destruction of Hurricane Katrina.  The tape was misplaced for years, but, luckily for us fans, resurfaces here as it was transferred to digital just before disintegrating.  The poignant piece to this puzzle is, with Brown’s passing in 1999, it may well have been his last recording, but he is in top form backing Benny’s impassioned vocal.

Benny Turner, with “When She’s Gone, pays tribute to perhaps his greatest musical influence–his mother.  This set is stone truth that “She made a difference!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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