R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax
VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases
11 OCT 10 SCOTT BILLINGTON
This weekend, we lost one of the world's greatest soul singers (and maybe greatest singers, period). Solomon Burke was an extravagantly talented showman with a voice that seemed to have lost nothing in his 70 years. Solomon enjoyed his first "comeback" on Rounder in the mid-1980s. His Soul Alive! album, originally released as a 2 LP set, was a surprise best seller. His sermon/rap, "The Women Of Today," received airplay on mainstream radio in Long Beach, New Orleans and Philadelphia, among other cities, re-energizing his older African-American audience. It's an amazing record, as good as any live soul recording you can hear. We had a hard time keeping up with orders.
We followed with a studio record, A Change Is Gonna Come, with mostly new songs by writers such as Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham, Jimmy Lewis and Paul Kelly. I put together the New Orleans studio band, and we cut the record just before Hurricane Elena bore down on the city in August, 1985. The Sam Cooke-written title track fared especially well in Germany.
It was a pleasure, and at times a bit of a challenge, to have worked with Solomon, who could be witty, generous and frustratingly stubborn (at least, that's how he sometimes seemed to me). He likened the three Rounder founders to the three Atlantic Records principals, and I remember him sending Marian a dozen red roses. Listening to Soul Alive! yesterday, I was reminded of how rare Solomon's kind of talent is.