Mono Mondays: Solomon Burke, Rock ‘n’ Soul

Monday, November 10, 2014
Mono Mondays: Solomon Burke, Rock ‘n’ Soul

Today’s Mono Monday release is an album which holds a distinction which is, if not necessarily unique, certainly rather rare: seven – count ‘em – seven of its tracks charted on the Billboard Hot 100.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly how rhythm and blues evolved into soul music, then you need only listen to the work of Solomon Burke, who has long been considered one of the key figures in that particular transition. As a man whose spiritual upbringing made him feel a bit sketchy about embracing the more rough-and-tumble elements of R&B, let alone rock ‘n’ roll, Burke took the existing sounds of the day and made them his own, making them smoother yet still more than managing to deliver an emotional impact with the material. In turn, he became known as “The King of Rock ‘n’ Soul,” hence the title of the album that’s brought us here today.

Burke released 38 studio albums during the course of his career, but Rock‘n’Soul is unquestionably among the most fondly-remembered of the bunch, thanks to those aforementioned seven hit singles…and since we know you’re wondering, those singles were, from lowest chart success to highest, “Can’t Nobody Love You” (#66), “He’ll Have to Go” (#51), “You’re Good for Me” (#49), “Cry to Me” (#44), “If You Need Me” (#37), “Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)” (#33), and “Just Out of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)” (#24). If there’s any question as to Burke’s gift for interpreting material by artists from other musical genres, then it’s certainly dismissed with that take on Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have to Go,” but it’s notable that Rock‘n’Soul also features a version of Woody Guthrie’s “Hard, Ain’t It Hard.”

In 1963, Burke famously told Jet Magazine that “without soul, there’d be no rock, and without rock, there’d be no soul,” and when he released this album the following year, he provided all the evidence the world would ever need to back up that statement.