Friday, July 5, 2013

Solomon Burke, Soul Man

By David Luhrssen
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Solomon Burke was a pioneering soul man when he signed with Atlantic Records in 1960. By the time he played the Montreux Festival 46 years later, he had settled into being a showman. The new concert DVD, Live at Montreux 2006, finds Burke seated on a throne-like chair—a monarch whose court consists of a dozen singers and players. Burke’s considerable girth is robed in a blue three-piece suit that glitters with silver spangles. Exhorting the crowd to move, he barely moves anything except his lips—but what comes from his mouth is funky. Burke’s feisty spirit is animated and ready to let the good times roll.

With a deep voice trained in the gospel choirs of his youth, Burke sings his hits “Cry to Me,” “Got to Get You off of my Mind” and more. He is also willing to mix things up a bit, taking requests online and slipping in a few surprises. Calling Tom Waits “one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” he performs Waits’ “Diamond in Your Mind” in an arrangement suggesting New Orleans circa 1959.

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