Deep Dive: Solomon Burke, I WISH I KNEW

Thursday, March 21, 2019
Solomon Burke I WISH I KNEW Album Cover

Today we celebrate the birthday of the late, great Solomon Burke, an R&B legend who made his mark in the early 1960s with such hits as “Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms),” “Cry to Me,” “If You Need Me,” “You’re Good for Me,” “Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye),” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” all of which climbed into the top 10 of Billboard‘s R&B Singles chart between 1961 and 1964. As the ‘60s progressed, however, Burke’s star shone a little less brightly in terms of his chart success, so we’re celebrating the day of his birth by spotlighting an album by Burke that you may have forgotten.


Released in 1968, I WISH I KNEW found Burke battling with the changing times, which in turn led to changing musical styles and sounds, which is why your first thought upon listening to the LP may be to question some of the production choices. Indeed, it’s arguably a little more psychedelic at times than Burke’s material deserved, but the performances found within its grooves are still just as solid as you’d expect from an artist of his reputation.


The song you’re most likely to already know is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the title track, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” which did at least manage to hit the Hot 100, even if it stalled at #68. Other singles on the album included “Save It,” “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” but neither of them managed to chart in any significant fashion.


But, of course, whether the songs charted or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that they hold up. And while there’s definitely an unabashed ’68 sound to them, you still can’t go wrong with Solomon Burke.

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