Don't Give Up on Me

( 3 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Even considering the fact that plus-size soul singer Solomon Burke can -- no pun intended -- throw his weight around when it comes to coaxing devotees to assist in his musical efforts, the array of talent assembled for Don't Give Up on Me is mighty impressive. Renowned as a song interpreter since his heyday in the '60s, Burke tries out newly minted material by some of the most compelling writers extant, including Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Joe Henry, the sympathetic roots songwriter who produced this heartfelt disc. At its core, Don't Give Up on Me is a soul album -- with a horn-and-organ grind that shines through most clearly in "Fast Train" and "Only a...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Even considering the fact that plus-size soul singer Solomon Burke can -- no pun intended -- throw his weight around when it comes to coaxing devotees to assist in his musical efforts, the array of talent assembled for Don't Give Up on Me is mighty impressive. Renowned as a song interpreter since his heyday in the '60s, Burke tries out newly minted material by some of the most compelling writers extant, including Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, and Joe Henry, the sympathetic roots songwriter who produced this heartfelt disc. At its core, Don't Give Up on Me is a soul album -- with a horn-and-organ grind that shines through most clearly in "Fast Train" and "Only a Dream," both of which were contributed by Van Morrison. But even where the terrain shifts -- to a roiling riptide as on the Waits-penned "Diamond in Your Mind" or a neon-lit Broadway intersection where it's safe to place Nick Lowe's "Other Side of the Coin" -- Burke's titanic voice holds down the center, exuding passion and warmth. For the most part, the disc is rife with the sort of slippery but not slick R&B sounds that came out of Muscle Shoals and Memphis in the '60s and '70s. Slurry bass, crisp drums, and lush organ dominate; computer-generated ephemera are nowhere to be heard. The disc's best songs -- particularly the title track, which was written by cult favorite Dan Penn -- add a bittersweet undertone, a perfect accent for the richness imparted by Burke's lush baritone. This is the kind of tribute that Burke, long awaiting his due as a rock 'n' soul pioneer, so richly deserves. That he makes it so very much his own is simply another jewel in this monarch's crown.
All Music Guide - Mark Deming
It's a sad irony that in the 1980s and '90s, many of the great artists of soul and R&B suffered musically at the hands of those who professed to love them the most. After soul had dropped off the major-label radar in favor of hip-hop and new jack sounds, a number of smaller companies stepped forward to record veteran artists who were still giving their all on the road, but for every truly inspired release from labels such as Malaco, Bullseye, or Alligator, there were a dozen others which featured rote, generic production and arrangements which attempted to recapture the thrilling sound of soul's glory days without coming within driving distance of conjuring their ineffable magic. Solomon Burke was one of the greatest talents of '60s soul, whose strong, burnished voice resonated with a churchy fervor that could speak volumes about either triumph or hurt, but while he continued to record regularly through the '70s, '80s and '90s and always sounded splendid, the records themselves often weren't much to write home about, with Burke using his gifts to prop up second-rate material or re-record tunes he'd performed definitively in the past. So it's good news indeed to report that Burke's new album, Don't Give Up on Me, is nothing short of revelatory, a superb set which presents "the King of Rock and Soul" at the very top of his form. Singer and songwriter Joe Henry produced the set, and rather than trying to replicate the sound of a vintage Jerry Wexler session, he's taken a very different approach, going for a spare and open sound, with nothing but a subdued rhythm section, a guitar, and an organ the latter played by Rudy Copeland, who performs the same honors at the church where Burke preaches accompanying Burke on most of these 11 songs. Henry also put out a call for material worthy of Burke's gifts, and a number of his better-known fans responded, including Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, and Nick Lowe, all of whom contributed songs to the project. But for all the songwriting starpower on deck, the focus is squarely on Solomon Burke throughout, and he proves he's lost none of the power, force, or dramatic intensity of his glory days. Henry's low-key production captures the nooks and crannies of Burke's voice, and he delivers a performance worthy of a great actor on each cut, from the deep soul of "Don't Give Up on Me" and the blues-based swagger of "Stepchild" to the inspired tall tales of "Diamond in Your Mind" and the near-operatic passion of "The Judgement." His voice is in superb shape, too, sounding no less powerful at age 66 than he did in his glory days, and with a depth of emotion and gift for phrasing that's only grown with the passage of time. In many ways, Don't Give Up on Me most closely resembles Johnny Cash's superb American Recordings, in that the spare simplicity of the album's presentation reveals the rich complexities of the singer's gifts as they've rarely been allowed in the past; while it's a very different kettle of fish from his classic sides for Atlantic in the 1960s, Don't Give up on Me leaves no doubt that Solomon Burke is still one of the finest voices of his time, and anyone who has ever been moved by the power of soul music needs to hear this album.
New York Times - Jon Pareles
Mr. Burke is a definitive soul singer, testifying his way through songs with a preacher's fervor and a showman's timing.
Rolling Stone - Tom Moon
Some tracks sound as if they could be forgotten gems from the heyday of soul, and some have the galvanizing intensity of spirituals, but all of them share one essential trait: They wouldn't be nearly as rousing sung by anybody else.
Vibe - Dimitri Ehrlich
1/2 This one's to die for.

Mr. Burke is a definitive soul singer, testifying his way through songs with a preacher's fervor and a showman's timing.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/23/2002
  • Label: Epitaph / Ada
  • UPC: 045778035823
  • Catalog Number: 80358
  • Sales rank: 53,093

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Don't Give Up On Me (3:45)
  2. 2 Fast Train (5:43)
  3. 3 Diamond In Your Mind (4:24)
  4. 4 Flesh and Blood (6:07)
  5. 5 Soul Searchin' (3:59)
  6. 6 Only A Dream (5:09)
  7. 7 The Judgement (3:30)
  8. 8 Stepchild (5:10)
  9. 9 The Other Side Of The Coin (3:46)
  10. 10 None Of Us Are Free - Five Blind Boys of Alabama (5:29)
  11. 11 Sit This One Out (4:33)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Solomon Burke Primary Artist
Bennie Wallace Tenor Saxophone
Chris Bruce Guitar
Rudy Copeland Organ
Nikki Harris Background Vocals
Daniel Lanois Electric Guitar
Jean McClain Background Vocals
David Piltch Bass
Jay Bellerose Percussion, Drums
Technical Credits
Joe Henry Producer, Liner Notes
Doug Sax Mastering
S. "Husky" Hoskulds Engineer
Nathan Burden Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Get the throne ready

    The ¿King of Rock & Soul¿ ascends his throne in all his glory with this tremendously refreshing comeback album. It¿s refreshing in every sense of the word. It¿s sound is refreshing and intimate. It¿s refreshing that a soul album on a soul artist, legendary or not, (But in particular a legendary one) is just that, soulful. Recorded live in the studio with a great cast of musicians, this album should bring deserved attention to the small Fat Possum record label in Oxford, MS. The songs on this album were all proudly contributed to Burke by some of the most respected people in the business. Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and Brian Wilson are just the most famous of the lot. Morrison¿s songs are two of the better ones on the album, particularly ¿Fast Train¿. Both have Morrison written all over them, and in fact, he¿s using them on his upcoming outing. Like Morrison, Waits¿s, Wilson¿s, and Costello¿s songs are also instantly recognizable as theirs. Bob Dylan submits what is probably the most generic song on the album. Another highlight is the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil/Brenda Russell written ¿None Of Us Are Free¿. The two aforementioned titles, as well as the rest of the album, are graced by a superlative organ player in Rudy Copeland. Copeland, who is blind, is the organist at the church where Burke pastors. The title cut is written by songwriting cohorts Dan Penn and Carson Whitsett, along with Hoy Lindsey. Penn wanted to write an Otis Redding type ballad and had wanted to use the title ¿Don¿t Give Up On Me¿. Whitsett sat down and started laying down Otis like chord changes and the result, in my opinion, is a song that sounds like a classic `60s country soul hit. Copeland¿s playful interplay with Burke is uniquely splendid. To say Burke sounds great would be an understatement. His voice is smooth and strong. The Joe Henry produced ensemble deliver a package that should be titled ¿Don¿t Give Up On Music.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Now this is R&B

    If you've been listening to the radio lately you'd be almost right if you believed that R&B is dead. Solomon Burke, one of the greatest princes of R&B proves that is wrong. This album has power, and soul and you'll put it right up there with your Temptations, Gladys Knight and Otis Redding CDs. Too bad anemic, souless Hip Hop is ruling the airways right now because every sing cut on this album belongs on the radio.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great voice, shame about the material

    I really wanted to like this album. Fat Possum has been touting it for weeks now, and it's getting great critical reviews (that is, reviews from professional critics), so I expected a lot. That just makes it all the more disappointing. What I hear is a great singer, in fine voice, working his butt off to try to make something out of mediocre material. Just about everything else about this album is well done: tasteful, albeit sparse, arrangements; a great live feeling; great production work, etc. But only a couple of the tunes here deserve it. Dylan's contribution, ''Stepchild'' works well, as does Brian Wilson's ''Soul Searchin''' and to a lesser extent, Nick Lowe's ''The Other Side of the Coin.'' The best thing I can think to say about this is that it might sell enough to convince someone to let Solomon Burke do another album, because he's capable of so much better.

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