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'60s soul pioneer needs to find new songs

Soul of the Blues
Soul of the Blues
By Solomon Burke

Black Top Records: 1993

This review first appeared in the Spring 1994 edition of Blues Revue Quarterly magazine (now Blues Revue).

With the current blues and soul revival going on around us, no one is more deserving of a comeback than '60s soul pioneer Solomon Burke.

This release features Burke on songs mostly from the era in which he was the reigning King of Soul. Yet these aren't songs he made hits; in many cases, this is his first recording of them. Despite unfamiliarity, Burke's readings of these sings are – simply put – astounding. Many are better than the original hit versions by the artists who made them famous.

The sidemen – featuring Clarence Hollimon on guitar and George Porter Jr. on electric bass – are solid and capture the feeling and flair of the early rock and soul years. The arrangements are likewise tight and make this recording sound like a long-lost treasure from the '60s.

But as good as Burke's voice still is, and as well as he interprets these songs, it all seems old hat. Yes, this is a fine comeback vehicle, but fans of Burke are going to want to hear something new from him. His talent is too great to spend forever looking back. Here's hoping there is another follow-up album with new songs.