Here’s a clip featuring King of Rock ‘n’ Soul Solomon Burke with his 1964 smash hit “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”, a soul favourite straight out of the gospel tradition. It was released as a single that year and has since become a soul, and rock, standard.
The song has been covered by a number of artists, from fellow soul belter Wilson Pickett, the Rolling Stones, the 13th Floor Elevators, and of course the Blues Brothers. The song was featured in the 1980 Blues Brothers movie, which gained it a new audience. But, even though that’s where I first heard this song, when I heard Solomon Burke’s original, it was like being shown a real, panoramic landscape when before I had only known the oil painting – as good as the oil painting is, of course.
The thing I love about it is that it is so raw, so unafraid to show something of where it comes from. This one is straight out of the church, with Solomon Burke in full preacher mode, and his back-up singing testifying along side him. When he says “let me hear you say YEAH!” and his singers start clapping, it’s hard not to join in. And that can be embarrassing when you’re listening to it on the bus with your head phones!
Not many casual music fans know about Solomon Burke. Well, not as many as those who know Otis Redding, for instance. But, Burke was a force of nature who made a huge impression on the British Invasion groups of the 60s, even if his records never strayed too far from the R&B charts back home. The Zombies covered his “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Love You”. Van Morrison took his vocal style, built it up, and made a career out of it. And more recently when Burke made something of a comeback in his 2002 record Don’t Give Up on Me, Morrison wrote him a tune, as did Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Tom Waits, and Bob Dylan, among other luminaries.
Even though he’s known primarily as an R&B singer, Burke had interests in country music too, which informed many of his early sides. To explore this, more recently he cut Nashville, which is an album of country covers put out in 2006 . Once again, Burke is joined with some heavyweights of the country world including Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Gillian Welch, proving that there is a distinct kinship between country and soul that many people forget is there.
And this has been Burke’s strength – to take any song and make it work as a Solomon Burke number. And long may the King of rock ‘n’ soul reign.
His newest album, Like a Fire is out now.
To hear more music, check out the Solomon Burke MySpace page.