June 2005

Solomon Burke - Make Do With What You Got
Shout Factory DK34357
Released: 2005
Format: CD

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

Solomon Burke’s new CD kick-starts with a crunchy Keith Richards guitar riff that could have been lifted from Exile on Main Street. That seems only fair, since Burke helped form the Stones’ sound. They covered "Cry to Me" on Out of Our Heads and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" on The Rolling Stones, Now. Burke brings things full circle on Make Do With What You Got with his version of "I Got the Blues," and Jagger and Richards might as well sign any future royalties over to him. He takes one of their most soulful tunes right out from under their noses.

While I enjoyed Joe Henry’s production on Burke’s previous disc, Don’t Give Up On Me (2002), some of his choices were obvious attempts to bring the singer up to date, such as the arrangement on Bob Dylan’s "Stepchild," patterned after the sound of Time Out Of Mind. Don Was produced this time around, and he has assembled a tight band that gives Burke the southern soul funk he needs. Organist Rudy Copeland holds everything together, as he did on the earlier disc, and he and the other players keep things simple and uncluttered. Burke himself is in strong voice, and Was lets him go his own way. This time, the Dylan tune ("What Good Am I?") is given a more traditional soul treatment, and Burke goes right to its core.

Now that Solomon Burke and Al Green have returned with two strong and popular discs, I wonder if it is too much to hope for a return to traditional soul singing. It would be a pleasure to see the American Idol-ization of soul music pass away.