Solomon Burke

I Wish I Knew

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I Wish I Knew, Solomon Burke's final album for longtime home label Atlantic, is a desperate mix of R&B oldies, sappy contemporary tunes and a scurrying search for style in the storm. Burke was in the middle of a cultural revolution when this album was made; soul music now crashed with such sonic force to keep up with pop's psychedelic trippings that Burke's blend of Sam Cooke-like cooing and Sunday-morning fervor seemed a bit quaint. The seasoning of I Wish I Knew is misguided at best. There's a forced "grooviness" to the tunes that makes them dusty relics of their era and a somewhat desolate end to a golden age of R&B. Burke sounds fine throughout (his singing, in fact, is nearly as fervent as it was on the previous year's treasure King Solomon), but aside from "I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel to Be Free)," too much of the album stinks of period goo. (Later reissued by Koch with King Solomon.)

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