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Like a Fire
US Shout Factory, 2008
1) Like A Fire 2) We Don't Need It 3) Fall, The 4) Minute To Rest And A Second To Pray, A - (featuring Ben Harper) 5) Ain't That Something 6) What Makes Me Think I Was Right 7) Understanding 8) You And Me 9) Thank You 10) If I Give My Heart To You

  Solomon ( seems to come up with a new and musically different CD in approximately every two years these days.  After his Grammy-winning Don’t Give up on Me on Fat Possum in 2002, he released Make Do with What You Got (in early 2005) and Nashville (in late 2006) on Shout! Factory, and now in June this year we’re rewarded with Like a Fire ( 826663-10846).

  Solomon: “The Nashville CD is still very strong for us, especially in Europe.  It was the first full country album that we’ve ever done.  I wanted to do more, but I thought I should just let that be and go on to something else.  I had all these great writers available to me, and I wanted to take a chance and start another journey.  This new album is just a completely different story.”

  Recorded in Los Angeles, Solomon is backed up basically by a rhythm section only – Danny Kortchmar and Dean Parks on guitar, Larry Taylor on bass and Steve Jordan on drums and percussion.  “I thought it was important to get the songs through and to hear directly the message in the songs.  When we get on stage, we can add horns and strings and whatever we need to add to bring it full circle.  The most important thing is to get it out like it is, to bring it out raw, just to be as natural as possible… to bring out the songs and to bring out the lyric and the message of the song.”

  “Steve Jordan was the main producer, but, of course, Shawn Amos is always going to have his hand over there.  My daughter Candy Burke and Jane Vickers are there as my associate producers.  This was just an incredible situation, where Steve – who’s such a great drummer, such an incredible musician – just said ‘let’s get the beats going and we worry about the rest of it’.  That’s what we did.  We worked on the beat, we worked on the rhythm, and working on the measure of the song and the story of the song…  We hooked up with Steve from a couple of concerts we did.  Shawn went after him, and we were lucky enough to get him to come and do this album.”  A producer, a writer and an artist himself, Shawn Amos worked earlier as Vice President at Shout! Factory, and today he’s the Vice President at GetBack Media, Inc.

  The opener, Like a Fire, features also cellos on the track.  Written by Eric Clapton, the song is a mid-tempo, intimate opus that draws a lot from Southern folk-rock tradition.  “Eric Clapton – he is the man!  He’s not only a songwriter and a musician, he’s a friend.  When someone like Eric Clapton says ‘I got a song for you’, sends it to you and then turns around and says ‘you know what, I’ve got another one in my heart, but all I’ve got is music and an idea – you finish it’! – that was a mind-blower, and that song was Thank You.”

  Thank You is a slowish, country-tinged swayer, and here Solomon even does a short Louis Armstrong impression.  “I thought I could sneak that over in there.  I love Louis Armstrong and I’ve always wanted to keep the memory of Louis in the hearts and minds of people, let people know that his spirit still lives.  The music must never die.  It’s important that we keep the music going, because that’s the salvation of this whole business.  That’s something special that lives within us on a daily basis.”

  Keb’ Mo’ co-wrote We Don’t Need It, a laid-back country-rock song with touching lyrics, and he also plays acoustic guitar on it.  “Keb’ Mo’ is a great writer and a musician himself.  We were blessed to get all these guys together for a two-week period and complete this album in eight days here in Los Angeles.”

  The Fall is a poignant country-infused ballad and a convincing vocal performance from Solomon.  Rudy Copeland plays organ and Larry Goldings piano on the track.  “I saw the words and said ‘I have to record this song’.  Steve Jordan and his wife wrote the song, but the message in the song is so important.  It’s one lyric there that says ‘what do we save and what do we throw away’.  All the things we’ve put aside for our children and children’s children that we think will be important to them ten or fifteen years from now, you know, they don’t really want it.  The most important thing is to give them all the love we can, because material things don’t mean anything.  That’s what that song represents.  It’s a very moving, special message.”

  A rocky, big-voiced beater titled A Minute to Rest and a Second to Pray features its writer, Ben Harper.  “When you get a chance to listen to the Ben Harper song – which is happening today, which is the reality of right now – just turn your television on and you know exactly what that’s about.”

  Steve Jordan’s song, Ain’t That Something, is a mid-tempo, almost sing-along type of a jogger.  “You got to listen to it a few minutes and it’ll stick with you, and you find yourself humming it.”

  Jesse Harris recorded What Makes Me Think I Was Right himself five years ago and he plays acoustic guitar and David Paich organ on this re-work, which is actually a waltz.  “A little nice waltz doesn’t hurt you every now and then.  I thought it was a great song and I hope that he’ll be pleased with my version of it.”  Also the other Jesse song, the mid-paced You and Me, was originally cut by its writer last year.

  Understanding is a pleading, down-to-earth ballad.  “This also has a message for people to hear.  All of these songs were my choices, because I try my best to project the story-line and the message in these songs, because it’s my ministry – to sing songs of love and peace and hope and prophecy.  This album is a prophecy and a reality check for a lot of us.”

  The concluding song, If I Give My Heart to You, is a slightly jazzy, “lounge” version of a hit from fifty-four years back, which Nat “King” Cole also cut those days.  “Nat King Cole did it very well, with such love and such grace.  I kind of went with the old Doris Day feeling of it – and just natural, no orchestration, no nothing.  I didn’t want to try to sing it.  I just wanted to try to remember it.  What you have is just an open piano and a bass drum.”

  Solomon is also working on his next gospel CD, his first in nine years.  “The gospel CD is still in the works.  It’s going to be one of the greatest gospel CDs that I’ve ever done.  We’re taking our time.  We’re producing not only the CD, but also the DVD, the video of it, and I hope it’ll be ready for a September release.  I’m just finishing also an album with ‘the Dike’ (De Dijk), a group from the Netherlands, on Universal Records.”

  One thing I never forget to ask Mr. Burke is the state of his autobiography.  “The book is almost completed.  I think it’ll be finished this year.  We’ve stopped writing it, because every time we think we stop we always want to add something else, and my son told me last week ‘dad, seal it up and forget it.  Just stop.  Try to work on something else’.  So this year we should be finished with it.”

  For the full Solomon Burke discography please visit

Heikki Suosalo

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