Benny Harper did his recording in Houston, TX and it must have been confusing in that city when he appeared towards the end of the time that his namesake Bud Harper was still performing. Benny's first 45 was for the tiny local Gemini concern, and the dancers have taken to “Don’t Let It Happen To You” with its party atmosphere, “Knock On Wood” bass line and horn chart. I like this track too especially for Harper’s energetic tenor vocal with its rough tough tone. But I think he’s more suited to the bluesy deep ballad In The Middle Of The Night, with it’s classic Duke feel, particularly from the big horn section and piano fills. This is first class music and no mistake. But how it got from Gemini to Phil LA Of Soul is anybody’s guess.
What turned out to be Harper’s final 45 appeared on his own Harper-Soul label, and on it he’s backed by the indefatigable Calvin Owens band, with Owens also sharing writing and arrangement credits as well. The top side is another blues ballad called It’s Love on which Harper is at his howling best while Owens and his musicians play what is pretty much a rousing jazz piece in a big band style. The other side “My Prayer” has long been a dance favourite with the rarity of the 45 pushing prices up to ridiculous levels. You can see that the single’s label uses the same style as local big hitting Duke, although I think the tag line “The Grove Makers” might just be a misprint for “Groove Makers”.
1. The West Coast blues artist Ben Harper on Talent is a different person altogether.
2. You can save a lot of money by purchasing “My Prayer” / “It’s Love” on a UK Grapevine 2000 45 rather than on Harper-Soul.
Thanks to Dave Porter for the suggestion.