Solomon Burke
"Like A Fire"
Shout Factory

Blueswax 3
Reader Rating 5
A Great Big Hole In His Soul, (08/13/08)

There are lots of sumptuous ingredients here as a stellar cast is assembled for the Bishop of Soul's Like a Fire. Solomon Burke's backing band is first rate, with guitar wizards Danny Kortchmar and Dean Parks on various guitars, the great Larry Taylorplays both standup and electric bass, and drummer/producer Steve Jordan, who is almost always a plus on anything he lays his hands upon. Add to the roux special guests Keb' Mo', keyboard ace Larry Goldings, and Ben Harper. There are also two songwriting contributions by Eric Clapton, one co-authored with Burke, the other written by Mr. Slowhand himself (Clapton does not perform on this disc).

For the most part this is not a Soul album, actually the closest semblance to a Soul track is Jesse Harris' "You and Me," who also sings background vocals and plays acoustic guitar alongside of Kortchmar, which is easily my favorite tune on this obvious attempt of making a CD aimed at the Triple-A radio market.

That being said, for Roots-oriented music aficionados, there just isn't all that much else to recommend here. Even the co-authored Eric Clapton/Solomon Burke "Thank You" is more Country-based than any other genre, which truly disappointed me. The somewhat tasty opener, "Understanding," written by Clapton, sounds like a song Eric was thinking about when he made laid-back albums like Back Home, Reptile, and Pilgrim. Hmmm...

Without boring you with other details about Like a Fire, let's just hope for a better and truer representation of Solomon Burke on upcoming recordings in the not-too-distant future.

Bob Putignano: