Artist: Brenton Wood
Album: The Very Best of Brenton Wood
Label: Concord Bicycle
Release Date: 02/24/217
Fame was fleeting for silky smooth, West Coast R&B crooner Brenton Wood. His Double Shot Records years having begun with such promise, Wood seemed to be the second coming of his idol Sam Cooke in 1967, a rising star on the precipice of greatness for the Hollywood indie imprint. Inexplicably, even as his creativity continued to blossom, his commercial fortunes quickly faded, and The Very Best of Brenton Wood —the first remastered collection of this sort since 2008 for Wood—offers nary a clue as to why they did.
Applying his lithe vocal stylings—so wonderfully pristine and precise, tightly clinging to every melodic curve with effortless grace—to sweet, heavenly blends of modern pop and soul, Wood wasn’t given to showy displays of hubris. Pure simplicity and attention to detail in designing concise, mellifluous arrangements—brought to life by deft, delicately textured instrumental guile—were hallmarks of the singer/songwriter’s craft, warmly celebrated in this finely curated museum of feel-good, catchy recordings Wood so artfully cut for Double Shot.
Never included before on any physical release, the sweeping, orchestral marvel “Diamonds” is one of two rare curios, along with an impassioned reading of Cooke’s Civil Rights hymn “A Change is Gonna Come.” It does feels like there should be more deep cuts of similar quality here, that Wood is also deserving of a more extravagant retrospective packed full of vintage photos and extensive liner notes. Such concerns melt away when his 1967 smash hits “The Oogum Boogum Song” – with its rolling piano, irresistibly light flutter and shuffling buoyancy – and the sublime, upbeat earworm “Gimme Little Sign,” truly an ageless wonder, stroll on in.
They’re in good company, these utter delights mingling with the bouncy “Baby You Got It” – which charted later that year – and exquisite, aching doo-wop swoons “Darlin’” and “Me and You.” With a gentle touch, Wood accentuates the soft, pearly hooks of “Catch You on the Rebound,” “Two Time Loser” and “Where Were You” and brings unabashed joy to “Great Big Bundle of Love,” its rounded horns polished to nice shine. Little watery xylophone eddies swirl about “I Like the Way You Love Me” and “I Think You’ve Got Your Fools Mixed Up” is mellow soul gold. Wood knew just how to mine it.