Sangster Meets Benson
Benson Meets Sangster
Perhaps the names Sangster and Benson may not mean anything to you. But if you’re like me, you instantly associate the unique Sangster name with The Young Fresh Fellows, the epitome of Seattle pop, with whom Sangster played with for a while. And if this is Sangster and Seattle, then the Benson must be Robb (or Rob, not even the liner notes are sure) Benson, who composed and performed some of the stickiest stuff ever with The Nevada Bachelors and the more personal Dear John Letters (which also features Sangster). If you’re still unsure after those resumes, think of it this way: like esoteric terms for chocolate and peanut butter, the names Sangster and Benson being put together can only mean good things are to follow.
Benson Meets Sangster, the album, has somewhat of an outline structure, posing at times as a recording tutorial (anyone with an old-school Tascam will appreciate this) and at others as the efforts of the purchasers of said Tascam. Still others are clearly polished studio efforts… nonetheless, if you listen to the whole thing from start to finish, it makes sense.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this record is the “Love = Love” medley, where Sangster and Benson swap out a series of miniature pop gems, the longest a minute and a half. They’re not so much songs as they are segments of one multifaceted song, like a mini-Abbey Road, and it’s worthy of a blow-by-blow. Sangster kicks it off with “We’re Building a Rusty Shack,” with a sly YFF reference in the lyrics, then Benson takes over with no break in the action, egging “Static Friction” up to that thrilling Nevada Bachelors vocal hook. “I Gave You My Back” and “Newspaper Smiles” are both Sangster tunes, but have very different personalities, the first a full-on rocker and the second a more introspective tune. As things begin to get too lethargic, Benson swoops in with “Little Piece of Second Best,” one of those descending guitar and vocal warble things that just won’t let go. Sangster’s closing “Mabeline the Disco Queen” brings it all back home, with a Bowie-like acoustic uptempo introduction.
Outside this mini-opera, there are other supreme highlights. For some reason or another, I can easily see Benson and Sangster recording this album while wearing Sgt. Pepper’s jackets. From McCartney’s unique sense of musical humor to Lennon’s twisting chord structures (evident on “God is a Young Man”), this will appeal to many a Beatles fan… and Young Fresh Fellows fan… and Nevada Bachelors fan… hell, a fan of good music. I’m sure more than a few of those still exist.