Monday, October 11, 2010

Solomon Burke, You Will Be Missed

One of the most endearing voices in soul was silenced yesterday. I was first introduced to the late great Solomon Burke's music in the '80s when I purchased the mammoth eight-disc, 203-song Atlantic Rhythm and Blues box set. What a great place to start. It covers the label's biggest acts from 1947-1974, and Burke's four highest charting hits are represented. My first impressions of Burke were that he sounded an awful lot like Otis Redding, another artist in the Atlantic stable, but I couldn't help but wonder why I had never heard Burke before when Redding had been all over the airwaves throughout my life. Fortunately, his peers and the critics knew what much of the listening audience didn't. Stardom aside, Burke was pivotal in the early years of R&B's merger with rock and roll. I have always been tough on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Burke's induction was one of the few times the institution got it right.

For those of you new to the charms of Mr. Burke, I give you "Got To Get You Off My Mind." This was Burke's highest charting pop single, peaking at No. 22 in 1965. I think you might also enjoy "The Other Side of the Coin." This comes from his 2002 album 'Don't Give Up on Me.' Burke snagged a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for that one. The LP was written by artists enamoured with Burke, including some of my favorites like Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and this one by Nick Lowe. Lowe eventually recorded his own version of "The Other Side of the Coin" for his 2007 album 'At My Age.' I suggest you pick that one up too. Bye, Mr. Burke. You will continue to live through your stellar catalog.

Solomon Burke - Got to Get You Off My Mind (mp3)
Solomon Burke - The Other Side of the Coin (mp3)

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