Ben Monroe was the lead singer with New York group the Del-Vons. Their only 45 appeared on the tiny Wells label and while "All I Did Was Cry" was a very fine group ballad, Gone Forever is something entirely different. This track is really a Monroe solo as the other members of the group (Freddy Paige, Earl Price, Ray Jackson and guitarist George Fuller) are so down in the mix as to be almost inaudible. And a really young sounding Ben certainly does his own song justice, soaring above the melody with just a hint of Otis Redding in those "oh now" phrases. His careful and rather precise intonation only adds to the emotional impact. A super performance.
There was a gap of 5 years before he made his first record for the Chicago based Dakar concern, even though the tracks were cut in the Big Apple. The pick of them is undoubtedly the emotive A Moment Of Weakness. On it you can hear Ben still has the clear intonation but now his voice has matured into a wonderfully gritty instrument, with a hoarse tone that really hits the spot. His falsetto phrases complete a picture of a first class vocalist. The beat ballad flip has a similarly committed vocal from Ben but the song isn't as well structured. If only he recorded more 45s like this as his final Dakar cuts are nowhere near to this standard sadly.
All I did was cry / Gone forever ~ WELLS 1001 (1966)
A moment of weakness / Since you came into my life ~ DAKAR 4502 (1971)
Broken home / This melody is for my baby ~ DAKAR 4557 (1976)
Note ~ "Broken home" can be found on the Westside CD box set "Chicago Cool Breezin'" and "Since you came into my life" on the same label's "We're A Lover" CD.