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Solomon Burke Make Do With What You Want Review

Album. Released 2005.  

BBC Review

When he's singing, he's a young man once more, still The King of Rock 'n 'Soul.

Martin Longley 2005

Philly-born soul singer Solomon Burke came to prominence in the early 1960s, but has experienced something of a commercial revival over the last five years. The opening track on Make Do With What You Want, "I Need Your Love In My Life", boots off like a Rolling Stones number, with a gargantuan Keith Richards-type riff. It's as though the Stones' own influences have now fed back to their source. Burke continues the tribute by covering their "I Got The Blues", later in the album.

Solomon is clearly attempting to coax in a more mainstream, rock-conscious audience, tackling numbers penned by Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson and Van Morrison, then closing up with some hardcore country, courtesy of Hank Williams. Burke even inspired Dr. John to write the album's title track.

Solomon climaxes the album's rocky opener with a snarling and growling, which rises up to an ecstatic shriek on the following track,"What Good Am I?" He intones a half-spoken monologue at the beginning of "It Makes No Difference", but blows out any subtlety during "Let Somebody Love Me", pleading too much as he's smothered by a grandiose synthesiser wash. Solomon redeems himself immediately with "After All These Years", one of the best tracks on the album. He sings lower, with added grit, making use of a sudden instrumental minimalism. Then he breaks into a direct plea to his baby, again utilising the confessional, semi-spoken technique.

Burke's band is made up of a top-flight crew of sessioneers who have collectively worked for an endless roster of starry names that includes Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Herbie Hancock and Iggy Pop. The heated purr of Rudy Copeland's organ features prominently on most of the cuts, and the album's extra commercial kick is provided by Don Was in the production chair.

Despite these moves towards pop crossover, Burke is still bobbing well within deep soul-gospel waters, refusing to ostracise his regular followers. Accustomed to singing onstage from a throne, garbed in both gown and crown, Solomon operates on a grand scale, his leviathan vocal prowess still resonating with the great lung-power of old. When he's singing, he's a young man once more, still The King of Rock 'n 'Soul.

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