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Marc Benno - I Got It Bad

Blue Skunk Music

10 tracks/32:14

Older listeners may remember Marc Benno from his partnership in the late 1960’s with Leon Russell in the Asylum Choir. The guitarist cut several solo recordings in the following decade. After a long absence, Benno started issuing new recordings six years ago on his own label. This title is a re-issue of a project from 2004 that features eight original tunes and two more that Benno co-wrote with Gary Nicholson.

The photos that accompany the disc all feature Benno with his 70’s vintage Fender Stratocaster. He handles all of the guitar parts and lead vocals as well as adding keyboards on several tracks. The rhythm section consists of Jack Barber on bass and George Rains on drums. Both were long-time associates of the late Doug Sahm. Additional support comes from Al Gomez on trumpet, Louie Bustos on tenor sax and Sauce Gonzalez on Hammond organ and piano.

Benno has a clean, fluid style on guitar with a definite Texas feel that one would expect from a musician that started out his career in Austin. The lone instrumental, “Tip Jar,” is a concise example of Benno’s guitar sound, which favors tone and feel in place of speedy runs up & down the guitar neck. On the slow blues tune, “My Baby’s a Gambler”, Marc punctuates his gritty vocal with taut guitar licks that make this track one of the highlights of the disc. The opening tracks benefit from the presence of the horns. “Terminal Case of the Blues” is a rough-edged rocker while “Alone in San Antone” is a swinging shuffle, the kind of tune that Sahm used throughout his career.

Benno’s voice fails him a bit on “Texas Oil Driller”. He has a limited range and can’t quite muster the power that the track requires. But Jim McFarlin shines on piano and Benno overdubs a slide guitar part in addition to his Strat work. He fares better on “Too Bad You’re Good”, a tune better suited for his singing capabilities. Gonzalez provides superb support on the organ. He turns in his strongest vocal on “Chance on You”, singing at the upper end of his range without straining his voice. The disc closes with another hard-driving track, “Thing or Two”, with more fine guitar work from Benno.

While Benno may not be the most compelling singer, he definitely is a guitar player worth a listen. He also ably demonstrates his talent as a songwriter throughout the disc. Other than the short playing time, I Got It Bad is a strong collection that certainly deserves another chance to reach a wider audience.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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