Solomon Burke

The Essentials

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Although he never had a huge commercial hit, Solomon Burke's brand of secular gospel mixed with a touch of country helped set the stage for soul, and at least two of his early-'60s singles for Atlantic Records, "Cry to Me" and "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," are stone cold pop-soul classics. Burke made full use of his preacher's background in his material, fundamentally understanding that there was little difference between a pulpit and a center stage microphone as long as you had a crowd out in front of them, and songs like his take on Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn's "Take Me (Just as I Am)" are essentially secularized sermons. This brief set (it comes in at under 35 minutes) collects those influential early Atlantic singles, including all of the above songs as well as songs like the odd and fascinatingly plodding "Down in the Valley," into a quick introduction to this fine singer. More would have been better, though.

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