Solomon Burke

It Don't Get No Better Than This: Essential Recordings

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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, and songs like his take on Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn's "Take Me (Just as I Am)" are essentially secularized sermons. This set is drawn from Burke's wonderful 1986 album A Change Is Gonna Come on Rounder Records with an extra live track ("Proud Mary") tossed in from Burke's Soul Alive! 1985 release for the label. Blessed with a tight band that included saxophonist Bill "Foots" Samuel, these sessions captured Burke at his very best. Highlights include the very American "Got to Get Myself Some Money," a sweet take on Penn and Oldham's "Love Is All That Matters," and an absolutely gorgeous version of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." If you aren't familiar with Burke's brand of secular gospel soul, this little comp will get you to the gist of it in a hurry. It's fun stuff, very passionate and very alive. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi