Thursday, 10 December 2020

Solomon Burke

If You Need Me (1963)

If You Need Me/Words/Stupidity/Go On Back To Him/I Said I Was Sorry/It's All Right/Home In Your Heart/I Really Don't Want To Know/You Can Make It If You Try/Send Me Some Loving/This Little Ring/Tonight My Heart She Is Crying

This was Solomon Burke's third album, released in 1963 on the Atlantic label and is an appealing collection of chunky, brassy soul and early sixties Elvis-influenced ballads. The thing that impresses me on the latest release of it is the superbly remastered sound, which is deep, warm and beautifully bassy, giving a real punch to the songs. Burke's voice is soulfully gritty throughout, whatever type of song he is dealing with, sort of like the sweetness of Sam Cooke mixed with the earthiness of Wilson Pickett.

If You Need Me was a Wilson Pickett song made famous by being covered by The Rolling Stones. It is slow, dignified, bassy and bluesy and is a wonderful example of early sixties Atlantic soul. The same applies to the churchy Booker T-style organ and cymbals-powered beauty of the lovely Words. The progression from church-inspired singing into soul is clear on tracks like this.

Dr. Feelgood fans will be familiar with the rocking energy of Stupidity, of course. You know, for years I thought it was a Dr. Feelgood original. From its call-and-response vocal beginning the song thumps with soul power. Great stuff. Listen to that big, rumbling bass too. Check out the organ and cymbal work on the supremely soulful Go On Back To Him too. Once more, the sound is outstanding here.

I Said I Was Sorry is lively and infectiously catchy as too is the finger-popping groove of It's All Right, where the relationship between gospelly soul and rock 'n' roll is clear for all to hear. Burke goes full-on Wilson Pickett preacher mode (Burke was a preacher himself) for Home In Your Heart while I Really Don't Want To Know is a rock n' roll-influenced ballad with a Stranger On The Shore-style saxophone break and another nice, bassy vibe.

You Can Make It If You Try is classic, organ-driven gospel soul and Send Me Some Loving is simply sumptuous in its bassy, brassy soul power. This is definitely my favourite cut on the album. Fantastic sax on it too. 

This Little Ring is very Elvis-esque and Tonight My Heart She Is Crying brings to mind Sam Cooke. There was always a lot of cross-pollenation within soul. So many influences and subsequent ones radiating from this album can be detected.

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