Ben E. King — It’s Amazing: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 2, 2022


596) Ben E. King — “It’s Amazing”

It’s amazing that “It’s Amazing”, sizzling ’68 single by the legendary BEK (see #85,254), unconscionably failed to chart. It’s one of the great “her love saved me” songs, beating Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” to the punch. “It’s amazing what your love has done for me. Oh, baby now!”

Steve Huey tells us:

From the groundbreaking orchestrated productions of the Drifter’s to his own solo hits, Ben E. King was the definition of R&B elegance. King’s plaintive baritone had all the passion of gospel, but the settings in which it was displayed were tailored more for his honey smooth phrasing and crisp enunciation . . . . [His] approach influenced countless smooth soul singers in his wake, and his records were key forerunners of the Motown sound. . . . He . . . worked at his father’s restaurant as a singing waiter, which led to an invitation to become the baritone singer in a doo wop outfit called the Five Crowns in 1958. . . . [After the] Drifters[‘] manager George Treadwell . . . fired them all in the summer of 1958[, he] hired the Five Crowns to assume the name . . . . In early 1959, they went into the studio with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to cut their first records. A song [King] Nelson (still performing under his given name) co-wrote called “There Goes My Baby” became his first lead vocal, and the lush backing arrangement made highly unorthodox (in fact, virtually unheard of) use of a string section. [It] became a massive hit, laying the groundwork for virtually every smooth/uptown soul production that followed. Over the next two years, Nelson sang lead on several other Drifters classics, including “Dance with Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” and “I Count the Tears.” . . . [After he left the Drifters,] King scored his first solo hit with the stylish, Latin-tinged ballad “Spanish Harlem,” a Jerry Leiber/Phil Spector composition that hit the Top Ten in early 1961. The follow-up, “Stand by Me” became his signature song and an enduring R&B classic . . . . In the post-British Invasion years, King had a rough go of it on the pop charts but continued to score R&B hits.

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Here is Ben on Germany’s Beatclub:

Johnnie Taylor released a great version of the song the following year:

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