Art’s more famous uncle was Brook Benton, but in his own right he made some fine sides in Memphis. Art was born in Germantown, TN and after High School went to the University of Memphis. He performed with a group called “The Tear Drops” before going solo.
His first releases were for local musician Ray Franklin, who had led his orchestra since the beginning of the 60s, but only started his own Chris label at the start of the next decade. Benton’s initial Chris offering had a lovely top side. Get Off Your Um Hum is a strong deep soul ballad despite the title. Lovely vocal harmonies behind Art’s beautifully modulated lead, featuring some very tasty falsetto phrases. The funky flip isn’t bad either. “Um Hum” also featured on Benton’s second Chris 45, but I think the other side Look At Yourself is even better. This has a more impassioned vocal performance, and the addition of a horn section to the proceeds give the song much more weight and effectiveness. The vocal side of Benton’s final 45 for the interesting RAV label (check out Veda Brown’s superb side on the label) is uptempo soul, with only a hint of the disco beat that ruined so many great southern discs around this time. “Your Love Keeps Turning Me On” has some nice piano and bass work behind Benton, whose vocals are again impeccable.
He returned to the music scene with a CD in 2003 which featured new cuts of “Your Love Keeps Turning Me On” and “No Vacancy”, as well as a good new number in “Wrapped Up”. But while it was better than most of the synth laden modern offerings it was still not of real interest despite Benton’s vocal range and abilities being pretty much unimpaired.
Get off your um hum / Sweet loving ~ CHRIS 002/3 (1970)
Look at yourself / Um hum ~ CHRIS 110
Your love keeps turning me on / Can't stand these changes (inst.) ~ RAV 7873 (1978)
Your love keps turning me on / No vacancy ~ GATEWAY 100 (1978)
Until you're gone ~ BUTLER'S (2003)
Note ~ The Gateway "Your love keeps turning me on" is identical to the RAV but the sound is very muffled - so the RAV is the best copy to get hold of.