March 31, 2009
Rhythm & Blues, Soul, Deep Soul, Country Soul

Album Review

This box set from Collectables pulls together five of Solomon Burke's 1960s albums for Atlantic Records (If You Need Me, Rock 'N' Soul, King Solomon, I Wish I Knew, and Got to Get You Off My Mind), each of which has also been released as an individual album by Collectables. The soul explosion of the time was both a boon and a bane for Solomon. No one was better at bringing the churchy tones of hard gospel into the secular arena, but as the genre became more popular, Burke -- instead of just keeping on doing what he had been doing -- began to reach out for wider acceptance, choosing songs more for their mass appeal than for their worthiness. But he was too fine a singer to ever deliver an album without stunning tracks, and there are several examples here of Burke at his best, including the gospel-fueled vintage R&B cover of the Staple Singers' "It's Been a Change," and the hard country punch of "Detroit City." Burke was always most at home with soul ballads, and there are several of those here as well, including a particularly fine version of Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn's "Take Me (Just as I Am)." He also tackles some fairly inappropriate songs like Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" or rehashes songs already definitively done, like a totally unnecessary rendition of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say." Burke's act always teetered near parody anyway, but as long as he tackled songs suited to his Sam Cooke on steroids voice, songs only one half step removed from Sunday morning gospel, it all balanced perfectly. It was when he made a conscious move away from his gospel roots into the pop arena that he stumbled and lost his way. There are enough stunning songs here, though, to make this box well worth seeking out, for at his best, Burke was simply unbeatable.
Steve Leggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. If You Need Me
  2. Words
  3. Stupidity
  4. Go on Back to Him
  5. I Said I Was Sorry
  6. It's All Right
  7. Home in Your Heart
  8. I Really Don't Want to Know
  9. You Can Make It If You Try
  10. Send Me Some Loving
  11. This Little Ring
  12. Tonight My Heart She Is Crying
  13. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)
  14. Cry to Me
  15. Won't You Give Him (One More Chance)
  16. Hard Ain't It Hard
  17. Can't Nobody Love You
  18. Just out of Reach
  19. You're Good for Me
  20. You Can't Love 'Em All
  21. Someone to Love Me
  22. Beautiful Brown Eyes
  23. He'll Have to Go
  24. It's Been a Change
  25. Take Me (Just as I Am)
  26. Time Is a Thief
  27. Keep a Light in the Window
  28. Baby, Come on Home
  29. Detroit City
  30. Someone Is Watching
  31. Party People
  32. When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)
  33. Woman, How Do You Make Me Love You Like I Do
  34. It's Just a Matter of Time
  35. Presents for Christmas
  36. I Wishi I Knew (How It Would Feel to Be Free)
  37. Get out of My Life Woman
  38. Meet Me in Church
  39. By the Time I Get to Phoenix
  40. Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye
  41. What'd I Say
  42. Since I Met You Baby
  43. Save It
  44. Shame on Me
  45. Why, Why, Why
  46. Got to Get You off My Mind
  47. I'm Hanging Up My Heart for You
  48. Down in the Valley
  49. Cry to Me
  50. If You Need Me
  51. Someone Is Watching
  52. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)
  53. Take Me (Just as I Am)
  54. You're Good for Me
  55. Tonight's the Night