Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The fire of Solomon Burke

“I’m on a journey, and that journey is music. I want to give all I can to as many people as I can for as long as I can.”
-Solomon Burke

In terms of pure gumption, you have to give Solomon Burke a lot of credit. The man was around for the birth of soul, and having begun his adult life as a preacher and hosting a gospel radio show, you'd think he'd be a shoe in as a soul superstar. Unfortunately, Burke never met the mainstream reception that many of his contemporaries met, and as a result, his name isn't known like those of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and others.

It's really unfortunate because he's an incredibly personable entertainer and works a crowd better than many of the musicians whose fame exceeded his. Want an example of his crowd rapport? Try listening to Candy / Candy Rap, the song at the bottom from his album Live at the House of Blues (indeed, I would recommend the entire album, as it's a wonderful showcase of his classic sound and personality).

Earlier this month, Burke released a new album titled Like A Fire that's full of songs written specifically for him by artists including Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Jesse Harris, and Keb’ Mo’. For those expecting an album of classic soul tracks, the kind that Burke is best known for holding onto even after forty years, you might be a little disappointed. Although all the songs were penned for this album by artists that I enjoy in their own right, they're not exactly in the same vein that Solomon's strength is. I'd say the closest song that pulls in some blues / gospel influences and allows Burke to get emotional would be the second track on the album, We Don't Need It (listen below). Much of the other material are good songs, and I'd think they'd be perfect on a Clapton, Harper, Harris, of Keb' Mo' album.

Don't get me wrong, even with the restrained adult contemporary pop songs to work with, Burke does a good job working in his fire as best as he can within their parameters. Approach the album with an open mind, and it will certainly be more enjoyable than if you come with preconceptions. Just be ready for a more modern sound than you'd probably expect.

Visit his website, his label Shout! Factory, and become his friend on MySpace.


Solomon Burke - Candy / Candy Rap : Live At The House Of Blues

Solomon Burke - Everybody Needs Somebody To Love : Atlantic Gold: 75 Soul Classics From The Atlantic Vaults (Disc 2)

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