Home Read Classic Album Review: Solomon Burke | Don’t Give Up on Me

Classic Album Review: Solomon Burke | Don’t Give Up on Me

The soul legend's comeback is a flawless, indispensable masterwork.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


It isn’t often that a singer makes his best album after nearly 50 years in the business.

Of course, Solomon Burke isn’t just any singer. He’s a soul legend, a vocal powerhouse and one of the last links to the days of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson. So it’s only fitting that his comeback album Don’t Give Up On Me is a flawless, indispensable masterwork that represents the culmination of his career. Sure, he had some help — Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Nick Lowe and Bob Dylan are just a few of the folks who contributed tunes to this album, and producer Joe Henry brings out the best in Burke with his loosely understated, retro-yet-timely approach. But ultimately, it’s Burke’s gruff molasses voice — a regally proud yet tender appeal that seems to come straight from the centre of his heart — that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and makes each of these 11 superbly bluesy ballads unquestionably his own. Like recent discs from Morrison, Johnny Cash and Dylan, Burke is like a vintage wine that just keeps improving with age. Don’t give up on him — give in to him.