Don't Give Up on Me
The Music Box's #5 album for 2002
First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2003, Volume 10, #3
Written by John Metzger
Mon February 3, 2003, 12:00 AM CST
In the 1950s and 1960s, soul music became a nationwide sensation as artists such as Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Al Green, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Mavis Staples, and Otis Redding became household names. It was during this time that Solomon Burke also broke onto the scene, but he never fared quite as well as the rest, failing to ever land a Top 20 hit. Nevertheless, this didnít stop the Rolling Stones from discovering Burkeís music and drawing at least a little attention to him by covering a pair of his better-known songs ó Everybody Needs Somebody to Love and Cry to Me, which respectively appeared on the groupís The Rolling Stones Now! and Out of Our Heads albums.
As the years wore on, Burke continued to tour and record, but his efforts never quite managed to provide the ideal setting for his golden voice. Last year, everything changed. Performer Joe Henry signed on to produce a new album from Burke, and he lined up an astounding collection of songwriters ó Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Brian Wilson, Nick Lowe, Tom Waits, and Elvis Costello ó to provide the material. This amount of high-profile help was certainly enough to garner attention for the project, but more often than not, these star-studded sessions sink into generic slop and quickly fade from view. However, this is far from the case with Burkeís recently released ó and aptly titled ó Donít Give Up on Me, which instead is a scintillating set of sweet-sounding soul.
In the past, Burke has made a number of sub-par songs sound heavenly, but with the quality material featured on Donít Give Up on Me, he delivers a career-defining collection that is absolutely ambrosial. The subdued arrangements suit Burke perfectly, allowing his emphatic baritone to expand upon the emotional weight of each selection as he searches for redemption amidst a world full of earthly desires.
In 2001, Burke was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and in this age of short-term memories and even shorter attention spans, many undoubtedly wondered who he was. Granted, it was enough that he helped to usher in the golden-age of R&B, but for those who require something more, the consummate exaltation of Donít Give Up on Me should fulfill the needs of even the biggest skeptic. Indeed, the king of rock ínĎ soul is back.
45th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Contemporary Blues Album
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box