Posts tagged Solomon Burke

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Don Covay - You’re Good For Me

Man, Don Covay, where you been all my life? 

The guy is a legend, and a bit of an unsung one at that - as a performer he never quite reached the heights of contemporaries like Marvin Gaye (who he performed with in The Rainbows) or Solomon Burke (with whom he was a member of The Soul Clan). His most lasting legacy is likely writing ‘Chain of Fools’, a huge hit for ululating airship Aretha Franklin. Perhaps foreshadowed by his 1971 album ‘Different Strokes for Different Folks’, Covay suffered a couple different strokes which left him somewhat debilitated - but not so much that he stopped recording - he put out ‘Adlib’ in 2000.

This song, and most of the song’s on Covay’s full-length debut, 1964’s ‘Mercy!’ have a grit to them that a lot of the more recognizable early 60’s R&B lacks. Notably, ‘Mercy, Mercy’, the album’s lead single featured a young Jimi Hendrix on lead guitar, and though the subsequent sessions making up the rest of the LP didn’t feature Hendrix, they share that raw, passionate, loose, and crunchy sound. Shit, that sounds like a vegan breakfast cereal. Speaking of things that are good for you - ‘You’re Good For Me’ is basically a dirge retreading one of my favorite subjects, bad love. One standout feature on this track is the drumming - and that’s not surprising as it’s the legendary Bernard ‘Pretty’ Purdie, who’s basically having his own little party all over this track, so much so the engineer just figured he’d pan him all the way over to the right I guess. 

Covay’s voice is strikingly similar to early 60’s Mick Jagger, or perhaps it’s more appropriate to say Jagger’s voice is similar to his. At any rate; Don’s voice is like whisky for your ears. But fistfightin’ whisky, not the good stuff. Eff Peter Gabriel, I’m grabbing a trenchcoat and a ghetto blaster and going to stand beneath a window blaring this. This song is my finishing move. 


Fig 1.1: “FATALITY”

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The Soul Clan - That’s How It Feels

There’s sure to be a lot of Solomon Burke standards adrift out there in the ether over the last couple of days since his sudden death, on an airplane in the Netherlands, no less. It’s both suitably classy and fitting that he would die while being lifted so closely to the heavens - throughout his life, Burke skirted the line between the glitter and glamour of showbusiness while staying true to his faith and serving his community. He also reportedly knocked out 21 kids while doing all this. He also had a really rad cape. If even one of these facts was part of my eulogy, I’d be pleased as punch.

We wrote a bit about Solomon here but left a few notable elements out - he was a successful child preacher in Phildelphia, even hosting his own radio show at the tender age of 12, worked as an embalmer, and ultimately gave up the glamour of psalmin’ and embalmin’ to record some landmark songs bridging the worlds of soul, rock and pop in the 60’s.

This gem was the output of a soul ‘supergroup’, The Soul Clan, which included Ben E. King, Arthur Conley, Joe Tex, Burke and Don Covay. The idea was Covay’s, and the idea was to channel their starpower into a way to help their communities, build up black-owned businesses, and generally do a little bit more for the world than spend their royalty checks on gold chains and diamond-crusted spinners. Kind of awesome and audacious that an all-black group with designs on power for their people would named their group a ‘clan’. Hoods hats off to that, fellas!

RIP Solomon. I like your chances at the gates, pal. Especially in that cape.

This song doesn’t come from the 1971 ‘Electronic Magnetism’ release, but man, tell me there’s a better file photo than this.