Listen: You Can Make It If You Try / Solomon Burke01 You Can Make It If You Try.mp3
A Philadelphia native, and trained in gospel, Solomon Burke had his biggest success during the ’60′s in the south, where they coined his sound ‘river deep country fried buttercream soul’. Who on earth would not want to hear this guy after a description like that?
I found out about Solomon Burke like every other white kid in the day, through the English groups covering all the classic blues and RnB hits. Yes, the originals were right here in my own back yard. Occasionally one of these would slip into the pop stations’ playlists, but not near enough. At the time, I would have probably dismissed the original anyways, preferring all the hepped up excitement of the British Invasion version and how that movement was changing my culture, my haircut and my clothes.
But on further investigation in the early 70′s, it was fantastic to find a whole world of great records yet to own and cherish. The Rolling Stones were clearly Solomon Burke fans, covering a bunch of the songs he had RnB success with. Those covers were spread out over the first 5 US albums including this one ‘You Can Make It If You Try’ (on their debut, ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS). So really, it’s through The Rolling Stones that I discovered him. The flip side of this single is equally great: ‘If You Need Me’, also recorded by them and included on 12 X 5 (as is his ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’). OUT OF OUR HEADS included ‘Cry To Me’, although The Pretty Things’ version is true to Solomon’s exactly.
Listen: The Price / Solomon Burke 01 The Price.mp3
The covers of Solomon Burke’s catalog are many, from Dr. Feelgood’s ‘Stupidity’ to The Herd’s ‘Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)’. So fierce was his vocal bite, that certain songs were just not even tried by others. One such favorite of mine, ‘The Price’, arranged by Northern Soul great Teacho Wilshire and produced by Bert Berns, could certainly have been served well at that time by Janis Joplin or maybe Chris Farlowe, but no other white voices that I know of. Great news: Solomon Burke is still alive. Go see him sing and get ready to lose it.