21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2002
Benson's 1976 album 'Breezin'' saw him put his jazz guitar into a pop context to enormous success. 1977s' 'In Flight' continues what 'Breezin'' started (including using the same band and producer) and is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of his crossover career (before he became too pop).
The overall feeling is one of mellow jazz-funk (a term which nowadays evokes one of two responses in most people: either laughing loudly or vomiting profusely) but remember that this is before jazz-funk became the fairlight synthesiser and chorused guitar led pap of the 80s or the overtly derivative funk-pop of 90s groups like Incognito.
The opener, Nat 'King' Cole's 'Nature Boy' is taken into entirely new territory sporting a wonderful vocal, seductive clavinet-based groove and a brilliant rhodes solo.
'The Wind and I' and 'Valdez in the Country' are both instrumentals (the latter being, in my opinion, a big improvement over the Hathaway original).
WAR's 'The World is a Ghetto' is the centrepiece of the album at nearly ten minutes long and features some incredible playing from all concerned (Harvey Mason on drums must get a mention here).
It would not be stretching the ear-magination too far to describe 'Gonna Love You More' as a 'Breezin'' with lyrics and the final track is a laid-back ballad a la 'This Masquerade' except with fairly meaningless lyrics. It has a pleasant enough tune and ends the album well, if somewhat schmaltzily.
Anyone into soul or sophisticated, instrumental-based pop should definitely check this album out, not least because Benson's singing is absolutely superb (think Donny Hathaway without the melancholy) with plenty of his characteristic scatting (which has never been better) but the musicianship throughout is exemplary, especially considering the constraints of the style intended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2005
Bought it on Vinyl and it was cool in '77. Nearly 30 years later on CD and I still know the words. Life is a Getto is a timless track and nothing, nothing compares with the Nature Boy track pure class. Benson is a class act and priceless...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2014
I had forgotten that the first time I ever heard George Benson this was the album that introduced his music to me - in 1977. I heard it on YouTube recently and it hurt to listen to the whole of it and think of the years that had passed and the young hopeful memories his album evoked. Benson is the finest artist in his category ever. Whether it's long instrumental tracks like the long version of "Love for Sale" - "White Rabbit" - which are not actually on this album - or any of the many albums he produced in the 80s and 90s - no other artist can touch him. Others here clearly know more about music than I ever will, but to anyone who is just dipping a foot in Benson's musical history - In Flight is one of the best to start with. My own personal favourite (though with him it's difficult as I love so much) is "You can do it baby" which featured on NuYorkan Soul and then on one of his albums.
on 4 March 2012
I used to own this on vinyl back in the late seventies (but sold it) and then had a very long wait for it to be reissued on CD with the benefit of digital remastering (for the second time, having missed the first reissue).
Despite it being a bit ultra-smooth in all respects, presumably to make it as radio-friendly as possible, this is a great album and, upon hearing it again after many years, I seem to be playing it several times a week, like an old friend from that particular era.
George Benson was and still is a fine guitarist, whilst the musicians and technical crew (Tommy LiPuma producing, Al Schmitt engineering, digitally remastering by Joe Reagoso at Friday Music, Huntingdon Beach, CA)) are first class. Here, we find the great Harvey Mason (drums), Stanley Banks (bass), Jorge Dalto (clavinet & piano), Ronnie Foster (electric piano & mini-Moog), Phil Upchurch (rhythm guitar) and Ralph McDonald (percussion). If the relative lack of kick and dynamics aren't too important to you, then the fine songs and and playing will be all that matter.
Tacked on at the end are a couple of bonus tracks in the form of a disco mix of The World Is A Ghetto and a 45 RPM edit of Everything Must Change, neither of them particularly noteworthy, but they augment the otherwise fairly short running time of the album proper and do no harm. Definitely recommended.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2007
I take the cynical view: After the comparatively phenomenal success of the previous year's "Breezin'", I believe Benson and the people behind him figured they'd cash by giving the people even more of what they'd concluded they wanted. And let's be honest; although the instrumental title track of that album was all over the radio too, it was the vocal track "This Masquerade" that was the real big hit. A Grammy winner, no less.
So this time, Benson goes for not just one vocal track, not just two, not three but a whole FOUR! - "Nature Boy", "The World Is A Ghetto", "Gonna Love You More" and "Everything Must Change" - launching the album (and his career) fully into pop territory. The balance felt all wrong and I heard that a lot of long-established fans went running.
Benson probably drew in some new ones though and in fairness, "Nature Boy" is a brilliant track; the album probably went double platinum on the strength of that song alone. It's pure soul and it's on this track and on this album that he starts to emphasise his trademark - scatting along to his guitar improvisations. Of the other vocal tracks, "The World Is A Ghetto" is my favourite and while the other two are okay, they are nothing really special. The man is a fantastic singer though, it has to be said.
When it comes to the two instrumental tracks, Benson pays homage to his spiritual mentor Donny Hathaway by doing an interesting cover of "Valdez In The Country" (which Hathaway wrote) and Ronnie Foster-penned "The Wind And I" is again, pleasant enough. But this is not 'real' jazz and it's not Benson at his best either. The album's saving grace in the end, is the brilliant contribution by the session band: Phil Upchurch on rhythm guitar, Ronnie Foster on electric piano & mini-moog, Jorge Dalto on clavinet & acoustic piano, Stanley Banks on bass, Harvey Mason on drums and Ralph MacDondald on percussion. Also playing a huge part in elevating this album are Tommy LiPuma's excellent production and Claus Ogerman's lush orchestration. Collectively, everyone involved succeeds in elevating the album to something really special and definitely worth having in spite of its weaknesses. Put it this way: if you take the view that this is a soul/r&b album with jazz influences then it's a five star album all the way.
But, if like me, you view it as a jazz album by a jazz artiste that is bending over a bit too far backwards to appease the masses, then it falls short. Four stars is the best I can do.