|This 2-fer features The Drifter's lead singer doing a set of standards on 1962's Sings for Soulful Lovers and his much underrated 1965 album, Seven Letters.
Sings For Soulful Lovers is a session that has Ben paired with a young Klaus Ogermann on arrangements. Although later a maestro of the heavy strings, at this point Ogermann's got a great little bounce in his backings -- that German-trained use of the electric bass in subtle ways, often used just enough here to give King's tunes a sweetly gentle groove! Even when the tunes are mellow, they've got a nicely stepping quality that moves things along nicely -- a classy approach to soul that's full, but never too slick or sleepy. And King's vocals are great, as always -- slightly raspy, and filled with an earnest, honest quality that makes even the familiar tunes come alive anew! Titles include "Dream Lover", "Because Of You", "What A Difference A Day Made", "He Will Break Your Heart", and "At Last".
Seven Letters is sophisticated soul from the great Ben E King -- the kind of record that few other soul artists could touch at the time, and which shows the ever-growing strength of his voice as a solo act! The approach here is similar to the style King first forged with The Drifters -- an uptown soul blend of raspy vocals, gentle rhythms, and some light orchestrations -- never too pop, and always balanced carefully enough to let King's warmth and soul shine through in the lyrics. Arrangements are by Jerry Wexler and Bert Berns -- both well-paired to match Ben's strength -- and titles include "Seven Letters", "River Of Tears", "Down Home", "It's All Over", and "Let The Water Run Down".