Daddy B. Nice's #55 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"The Body Roll"
Composed by Jim Bennett
May 30, 2016:
NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Jim Bennett's IT'S MY TIME TO GET DOWN CD at CD Baby.
Sample/Buy Jim Bennett's IT'S MY TIME TO GET DOWN CD at CD Universe.
For the latest updates on Jim Bennett, scroll down to the "Tidbits" section. To automatically link to Jim Bennett's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "Bennett, Jim" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:
"The Body Roll" is one of the most fascinating songs to come down the Southern Soul pike in many years. The first thing the well-versed Southern Soul fan-atic will notice is the crystal-clear instrumentation: a real rhythm section, lead guitar and keyboard. The second thing is the unconventional vocal. Jim Bennett's throaty delivery is so one-dimensional and woolly one wouldn't be surprised if it was skinned and sold as fur.
From the get-go, then, "The Body Roll" turns the usual Southern Soul formula--outstanding vocals, under-achieving instrumentation--on its head. Like another band from the North making serious in-roads on southern Soul playlists--The Revelations featuring Tre' Williams--Jim Bennett's band showcases melodic lines carried along with the shimmering precision only real instruments can convey.
The Jim Bennett band hails from Maryland, the same locale of the more well-known Hardway Connection (also a "live" band), authors of the novelty hits "One In The Morning" and "Morning Train/Peeping Through The Window."
Jim Bennett is a much more accomplished vocalist than anyone in Hardway, but not even in the same ballpark as The Revelation's talented Tre' Williams. But, as Ringo Starr once said, "It don't come easy."
Jim Bennett's aggregation, including female co-vocalist Lady Mary, played modest local venues in the DC area for a generation (and still do). Their specialty was (and is) Southern Soul oldies--Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Sease, Tyrone Davis, Betty Wright and the like--the familiar songs bar audiences never tire of.
And yet, throughout all of their years plying away as soul journeymen, Jim Bennett nursed his muse, writing songs and publishing CD's no one noticed. As the years passed, the tunes became tighter and more focused, the labored vocals stronger and more assertive, and "The Body Roll" is the stunning culmination.
Listen to Jim Bennett singing "The Body Roll" on YouTube while you read.
What sets "The Body Roll" apart, not only from the Hardway Connection and The Revelations but all of the traditional Southern Soul artists, is the song's emphasis on the groove.
In awarding Bennett the number-one spot on the June 2011 Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review, your Daddy B. Nice wrote:
"Jim Bennett knows where he's going and how to get there. I've seldom heard a Southern Soul band sound so tight. Bennett's ready to blossom into a star, and every time I hear this song, I turn up the volume."
While Hardway Connection was content to stick with their laid-back, easy-going formula of humor and quasi-cover tunes, Jim Bennett was determined to become at least a passable R&B singer. In an interview with Heikki Suosalo of "Soul Express," Bennett credited Lee Fields with helping him become a better singer:
"Lee influenced me. He tried to work on my vocal output, coming out of shyness that I once was. I've always not had the confidence, because I started out as a bass player. Only about six or seven years ago I started assuming the role of vocalist. Lee Fields tried to make my studio performances stronger than my stage shows, and not to be tight in the studio. Then he influenced me to write about happy things. I did a blues song a while back called Pack Your Bags, and Lee went into the studio with me. He'd sing the whole song for me and with me, 'do it like this, put this flavour here, put that flavor there'. If he had released it himself, it would have been a million dollar hit, but he was big enough to say 'this is your song, now you sing it'."
(from Soul Express Deep Online interview by Heikki Suosalo)
Bennett's emphasis on the groove in "The Body Roll" also reminds your Daddy B. Nice of 70's singer/songwriter J.J. Cale, who wrote "After Midnight" and "Cocaine," two songs that Eric Clapton later made into huge international hits.
A dazzling innovator on his first couple of CDs, J. J. Cale (who ironically did use a drum machine on his debut album) worked a guitar sound in the same way Bennett does, layering tracks: three distinct guitar parts at times, one acoustic, one electric (mostly for rhythm), and a third lead (electric) laying down hooks.
While using only one guitar, Jim Bennett achieves a similarly multi-dimensional sound by often incorporating not one but two excellent keyboardists, with the lead guitarist filling in the last piece. Bennett, a bassist who buries his bass lines in the mix to an extent seldom seen by the most modest of players, achieves an admirable wall of sound.
Bennett lyrics are always short and to the point:
"There's a brand new dance
Called the Body Roll.
You got to be careful.
It'll take control.
Just move your body
From side to side.
Then let go
And let it ride.
It's easy to do
And it don't take much.
Just shake your booty
With a gentle touch.
Just roll it to the front
And then to the back.
I'll make you feel good,
And that's a fact.
What is it called?
It's called the Body Roll."
Jim Bennett's belated success proves that true, deep Southern Soul lives outside the Deep South, just as it always has--in Chicago, D.C., L.A., Brooklyn--you name it. The music's geography is limitless.
What can't be overcome is the total immersion in the music that we know as "southern soul," the music that forges an artist's strength of character and personality with gospel and R&B on a daily (gospel) and nightly (R&B) basis.
With an artist of Jim Bennett's stature, those days become years become decades, until the southern soul cauldron is so entrenched in the performer, he or she can't utter a syllable without turning heads.
You can hear the authority--always selfless, mind you--in Jim Bennett's vocals and in his disciplined band, and with each new recent song, a kind of dazzling trifecta of "Slap It Slap It Slap It Tap It Tap It Tap It," "The Body Roll" and "I'm Ready To Party," Bennett comes closer to becoming a star on the level of the greats he has emulated for so long.
More organic and unself-conscious by the recording, Bennett's vocals are beginning to remind me of no one so much as the legendary vocalist/writer Rue Davis.
Rue Davis never had a band that was an artistic extension of himself in the way that Bennett's Unique Creation Band with Lady Mary is an extension of Bennett, however. Which makes Bennett's achievement--even though it is just beginning to reap rewards--all the more amazing.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Jim Bennett
Jim Bennett was born in 1951 in Washington D.C. and was raised in the southern Maryland suburb of Pomfret. Six of ten Bennett brothers formed a local band called The Family Reunion, which played locally.
JIM BENNETT: Taking It To The Next Level (Aviara) Four Stars **** Distinguished Effort. Should please old fans and gain new.
Like the late, great, underground Southern Soul singer Frank Mendenhall, Jim Bennett hails from the D.C. area, and like Mendenhall his music is idiosyncratic, rhythm-obsessed and self-contained in a supremely self-confident way.
Bennett's songs may not impress you on first listen. Certainly, lyrically they won't--it's just "feel good and party." Bennett's band is a tightly woven unit honed over many years of bar-band venues, and his "feel good" creativity is poured entirely into the textures of the rhythm section (and rhythm guitar) of each song. The lead guitar seldom wanders far from a rhythm guitar mode, leaving most fills to the keyboards.
The songs work a very narrow slice of R&B style, both in musical and conceptual range, but what they do, they do to near-perfection. Bennett's voice is not spectacular. His slightly-nasal tone is as rough as crumbling asphalt, but his self-assurance and authenticity are beyond reproach.
So while Bennett's songs may not be spectacular the first couple of times you listen to them, they gradually and diligently grow on you, the best of them pulling you into their mesmerizing rhythmic textures, culminating in an almost insatiable drawing power.
Jim Bennett has a ream of self-published albums to his credit, many featuring his longtime vocal collaborator, Lady Mary, and all featuring his trusty and self-assured live band. (See all of Jim Bennett's albums in Daddy B. Nice's CD Store.) He's gone through many phases--a guitarist phase, a gospel phase (ongoing), and a singer phase, to name just a few--and all of these dues duly paid are buried within the content and artistry of Bennett's newest album, Taking It To The Next Level.
And while the older CD's betray Bennett's influences--Barry White, Otis Redding, Gerald Levert--in frequently very direct and traceable ways, Taking It To The Next Level really accomplishes what the title promises, building upon the signature style that first became readily apparent in Bennett's previous collection, "Slap It...Tap It."
Bennett has locked into a signature style of tightly controlled hooks delivered with live instruments in a deliberately slow, grown-folks tempo. The result is a sound that hasn't been heard on the contemporary chitlin' circuit.
Your Daddy B. Nice officially hopped on the admittedly compact-sized Jim Bennett bandwagon this past summer after hearing "The Body Roll" (one of the highlights of the new CD) and falling in love with it as follows:
Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .
1. "The Body Roll" -------------Jim Bennett
A mainstay of the DC area (along with the more well-known Hardway Connection), Jim Bennett knows where he's going and how to get there. I've seldom heard a Southern Soul band sound so tight. Bennett's ready to blossom into a star, and every time I hear this song, I turn up the volume.
Sample or buy "The Body Roll" MP3 on Bargain-Priced Shots of Southern Soul, Vol. 3 CD.
Around the same time, I gained an invaluable insight into the band's workings by stumbling across a video of the unit in action.
Watch Jim Bennett, Lady Mary and the band singing "Slap It Tap It" on YouTube.
"Action" may seem too strong a word for the serpentine movements of the upfront players, Bennett, Lady Mary, and Darlene Holbrook. No prancing and pacing onstage ala T. K. Soul or the late Reggie P. The Bennett band's "body rolls" are as subtle and tightly controlled as the unit's rhythm section.
Now, perhaps to celebrate that Number 1 appearance on Daddy B. Nice's Top Ten "Breaking" Singles, there's a new video of "The Body Roll" on YouTube. Bennett negotiates one of his best vocals ever, husky and emotive, and when he slyly smiles under that Groucho Marx mustache, you can feel the intense satisfaction he's getting from finally and indisputably hitting that musical sweet spot.
"It's You I Need," another track from the new CD, is also on YouTube.
Meanwhile, the opening track of the new album, "I'm Ready To Party," is my pick for a promising single. The band's subtle guitar licks and always soulful keyboards captivate in much the same way as "The Body Roll."
Other noteworthy tracks on Taking It To The Next Level" include "Keep On Backing It Up" (with a little piano and strings), a reprise of "Slap It...Tap It," "She Wanna Come Back" and "Look What Love Has Done" (about as close as Bennett comes to doing ballads), "TGIF" (a redo of formerly-recorded Bennett track) and (for the beach music crowd) "A Carolina Beach."
"I heard that Mel Waiters
Is going to be in the house--"
Jim Bennett sings towards the end of "I'm Ready To Party."
"And Roy C, too.
Jonathan Burton gonna get down
And Clarence Carter
Gonna stroke it for you."
Jim Bennett is stroking it as well as any of them, and even if you can't stay "up until four" any more, you can dream about it vividly while enjoying this highly-recommended effort.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample or Buy Bargain-Priced Taking It To The Next Level CD.
February 21, 2012:
Jim Bennett Snares Daddy B. Nice's Best Southern Soul Mid-Tempo Song of 2011 For "THE BODY ROLL."
See Daddy B. Nice's Best of 2011 Southern Soul Awards.
March 16, 2013: NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Jim Bennett's new More Love, Southern Soul and More Blues CD.
May 8, 2013:
Jim Bennett, Lady Mary, Darlene and The Unique Creation Band were captured live onstage at the American Legion Post #170, Pomonkey, Maryland on May 10, 2013.
Listen to Jim Bennett & Company singing "She Laid A Freak On Me" and "Jody Got It All" Live Onstage.
June 13, 2015: Re-Posted from Daddy B. Nice's CD Reviews:
November 26, 2014:
JIM BENNETT: Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett (CDS) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new.(11/26/14) By any objective standard, Jim Bennett possesses limited tools as a solo recording artist. I doubt whether his vocal range goes much over an octave, and his monotonous, husky baritone is drafted into the service of compositions that invariably feature simple, repetitive, "baby steps"-like chords customized with a bit of R.L. Burnside/Otis Taylor-like trance blues. He hails from the blues "backwaters" of suburban Maryland, and his account of learning how to sing from the legendary Lee Fields is fascinating (see Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Jim Bennett). But he's a smart, wily arranger with a drum-tight live band, including horns and seasoned female background singers, and from the first, pulsing beats of the bass guitar on "Mr. Right On Time Dr. Feel Good," the previously unreleased opening track of this greatest-hits collection, Bennett's single-minded and fearless front-man personality inspires his band-mates and his songs with a Pied-Piper-like magnetism. "Slap It, Slap It, Tap It Tap It...", "Jody Got It All," "My Dear," "Southern Soul Highway" and "Mr. Right On Time Dr. Feelgood" provide a rousing start to the set, and after a mid-disc lapse ("You Can Use Me Up," "If He Won't I Will," "It's You I Need" and "If I Can't Have You"), the tasty, abbreviated guitar of "She Laid A Freak On Me" signals a return to mesmerizing high form. "Just Keep Backing It Up" dollops more of the same guitar plus attractive faux-string, keyboard washes, building to a grand finale trifecta of the ubiquitous "The Body Roll," the righteous "Sleep-Walking Jim" and the amusing "Goldylocks," in which Jim pays tribute to his Hardway Connection roots with "That thing was too short/too big/just right!" DBN.
Sample/Buy Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett at CD Universe.
Sample/Buy Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett at iTunes.
October 30, 2014: NEW ALBUM ALERT! Jim Bennett's first "greatest hits" collection....
Sample/Buy Southern Soul Highway: The Essential Jim Bennett
1. "Mr. Right On Time Dr Feelgood"
2. "Slap It Slap It Slap It Tap It Tap It Tap It"
3. "Jody Got It All"
4. "My Dear"
5. "Southern Soul Highway"
6. "You Can Use Me Up"
7. "If He Won't, I Will"
8. "If I Can't Have Your Love
9. "She Laid a Freak On Me"
10. "Just Keep Backing It Up"
11. "It's You That I Need"
12. "Body Roll"
13. "Sleep Walkin' Jim"
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
Honorary "B" Side
"Live In Freak"
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