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Soul Of The Blues

Solomon Burke

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Album Review

Solomon Burke could probably sing the want ads from last week's paper and make them sound powerfully soulful, but he had an easier task on this album, in which he adapted a dozen classic blues numbers to his epic-scale R&B style. Burke would probably have preferred livelier material than much of what he gets on Soul of the Blues, especially "Sufferin' Mind" and "Candy," which almost give the man a bit more room to stretch out than he needs, and while the arrangements on this set are ambitious and full-bodied, they're also founded on a lot of contemporary blues clichés and sometimes lack the drama and punch Burke deserves. But no one has ever accused Burke of not knowing how to sell a song, and the man is in typically superb form here; he sounds nothing less than joyous as he rolls through "Good Rockin' Tonight," he brings a potent and powerful gospel undertow to "Letter from My Darling," and he all but steals "Pledging My Love" away from Johnny Ace. Soul of the Blues captures the sound of Solomon Burke dipping his toes in a traditional blues style with the passion and conviction he always brings to his music, and it's a fascinating side trip for one of soul's greatest voices; if there are minor flaws in the production and arrangements, that has nothing to do with the glory of Burke's voice.


Born: 21 March 1940 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

While Solomon Burke never made a major impact upon the pop audience — he never, in fact, had a Top 20 hit — he was an important early soul pioneer. On his '60s singles for Atlantic, he brought a country influence into R&B, with emotional phrasing and intricately constructed, melodic ballads and midtempo songs. At the same time, he was surrounded with sophisticated "uptown" arrangements and was provided with much of his material by his producers, particularly Bert Berns. The combination...
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Soul Of The Blues, Solomon Burke
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