Ben E. King – Spanish Harlem (1961/2012) [HDTracks FLAC 24bit/192kHz]

Ben E. King – Spanish Harlem (1961/2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192kHz | Time – 31:11 minutes | 1,13 GB | Genre: R&B, Soul
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Rhino Atlantic

Ben E. King possesses one of the richest baritone voices in music history. The Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer made a stellar debut with Spanish Harlem. This Latin-influenced work blends together pop and soul. It includes breathtaking renditions of “Besame Mucho,” “Perfidia,” “Frenesi” and the title track. Backed by a fantastic string section, the album is a full display of King’s repertoire.

A close look at this album reveals just how ambitious Atlantic Records could be in the early 1960s, in generating LPs. Technically speaking, Ben E. King’s debut long-player is a concept album — or, at least, a thematic album. Put together in the wake of his first solo hit, “Spanish Harlem,” a Latin flavor and beat run all the way through this 12-song platter, which, at times, is really more of a pop record than a soul record. The dense, busy string section that characterized most of King’s work of this era is present, and a lot of his singing may recall more the work of Sammy Davis, Jr. than that of any R&B artist one might think of from this period. And apart from the Jerry Leiber/Phil Spector co-authored title hit, most of what is here dates from a decade or more (sometimes several) earlier — “Frenesi,” “Besame Mucho,” and “Perfidia” were standards during the big-band era, and most of the rest is of similar or even older vintage. All of which doesn’t mean that it is bad — King’s version of “Besame Mucho” is a very successful reinterpretation in a Latin soul vein, and “Perfidia” never sounded better than it does in his hands, even if it and a lot of the rest is a long way from what most of us define as “soul.” And for better or worse, the production is first-rate within the context of King’s established sound, with a phenomenal string section and a percussion section to die for. –AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder

1 Amor 3:05
2 Sway 2:17
3 Come Closer To Me 2:34
4 Perfidia 2:12
5 Granada 2:25
6 Sweet And Gentle 2:24
7 Quizas, Quizas, Quizas (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps) 2:14
8 Frenesi 3:09
9 Souvenir Of Mexico 2:20
10 Besame Mucho 2:58
11 Love Me, Love Me 2:35
12 Spanish Harlem 2:54

Ben E. King, vocals