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.
Performance CreditsSolomon 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 CreditsJoe Henry Producer,Liner Notes
S. "Husky" Hoskulds Engineer
Nathan Burden Engineer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Don't Give Up on Me based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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.¿
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.
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.