ARTIST: Solomon Burke
TITLE: Solomon Burke’s Greatest Hits
YEAR RELEASED: 1962
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Just of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms) (#24, #7 R&B), Cry to Me (#44, #5 R&B), I’m Hanging Up My Heart for You (#85, #15 R&B), Down in the Valley (#71, #20 R&B)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Solomon Burke fans, yes. Others, no.
LINEUP: Solomon Burke and the Atlantic Records studio musicians.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Atlantic releases a collection of recent singles and other masters that finally document the work of a great R&B / Soul singer.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I was reluctant to include this so early. Technically, it’s a compilation, and technically it’s hits + other cuts that Atlantic had around. But I included it here since it was released the same year as most of the singles were released.
After an up-and-down start to his career Burke finds the record company that would help him become a big name in the R&B / Soul circuit. He finds the right vocal sound and grit to match each song, and can sing gritty soul and soul-country with ease. The only down part is some of the material is second rate – certainly not Burke. (The backing vocals are kind of white bread at times, too.) Again, though, this was filled out with unreleased masters cut during the same time frame as all of the singles.
This is a great place to explore early 60’s soul, and see how this sound evolved into the soul of the mid-60’s. Burke was among the leaders moving the genre towards what many consider its peak time.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Soon after this, Burke was crowned “The King of Rock & Soul” in an on-stage ceremony..
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.
GRADE: B+: A great slice of history and some great soul singing by someone who should be more well known today.