Brenton Wood – The Very Best of

A full disc of classic 60’s soul

California soul singer Brenton Wood had a smash hit in 1967 with “Gimme Little Sign.” As a new collection from Bicycle Music, The Very Best of, shows, there was a lot more to this artist than that one song.

What distinguishes Wood from other R&B vocalists of the day is his smooth, relaxed delivery and great falsetto. Both are on fine display throughout this new collection. His other well-known track is “The Oogum Boogum Song,” which frequently shows up on soul and Beach music anthologies, despite barely cracking the Top 40.

The biggest thing we take away from this new set is that Wood was an underrated ballad singer. Take, for instance, “I Like the Way You Love Me,” which is absolutely gorgeous. His double-tracked vocal and falsetto, along with the slow tempo makes this one of those “shoulda been” hits. Also very strong is “Me and You,” which recalls fifties doowop, complete with a spoken middle and Wood’s soaring voice.

“Baby You Got It” repeats the arrangement from “Gimme,” including the signature keyboard sound, and has a great repetitive “you got soul” refrain, while “Great Big Bundle of Love” is a great soul stomper.

There’s some unique elements that keep things interesting through the entire disc. Acoustic guitar isn’t a typical instrument used in soul songs, but Wood puts it to great use on tracks like “I Think You’ve Got Your Fools Mixed Up,” and “I’m the One Who Knows.” There’s a nice echo effect on the background vocals on “Catch You on the Rebound.”

Another surprise is the funky take on Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” which features a scratchin’ rhythm guitar and a Gospel-infused chorus. Be sure to stick around to the very end of the song where he channels his inner James Brown.

Some guys are “one-hit wonders” for a reason. But as the Very Best of Brenton Wood makes abundantly clear, this guy should’ve had a lot more hits. The entire disc is solid throughout and is highly recommended for fans of classic soul. –Tony Peters