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Don't Give Up on Me
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Performer Notes
  • DON'T GIVE UP ON ME features song contributions from Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Nick Lowe, Dan Penn, Joe Henry, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
  • Personnel: Solomon Burke, Blind Boys Of Alabama (vocals); Daniel Lanois, Chris Bruce (guitar); Bennie Wallace (tenor saxophone); David Palmer (piano, organ); Rudy Copeland (organ); David Pitch (bass); Jay Bellerose (drums, percussion); Niki Harris, Jean McClain (background vocals).
  • Recorded at Sunset Sound Factory, Hollywood, California on February 25-28, 2002. Includes liner notes by Johnny Whiteside.
  • DON'T GIVE UP ON ME won the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
  • Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Van Morrison--the stellar list of songwriting contributors on this comeback effort by '60s soul legend Solomon Burke goes on and on. Did we mention Brian Wilson, Nick Lowe, and even his highness Bob Dylan also donating tunes? Burke came to prominence when soul music was a staple on AM radio as performed by himself and peers Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Aretha Franklin. Contemporary R&B singers from the endlessly melismatic school could learn a thing or two from Burke's passionate restraint. As producer, the singer-songwriter Joe Henry takes a page from the Daniel Lanois (Dylan, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris) school favoring natural sounds, deep resonance, and subtly spectral reverb. There is much reverence to the past in this relatively stripped down approach, but it is also perfectly evident upon close inspection that this is a contemporary album.
  • Burke had recently been active singing in church, and on this effort he shows that he hasn't forgotten where he came from, bringing along his parish's tasty organist, Brother Rudy Copeland. The tone throughout is primarily serious, occasionally solemn, and then along comes the straight-ahead blues by Dylan to inject the proceedings with playful self-pity and -mockery on "Stepchild" (as in "You treat me like a"). Honorable mention goes to Fat Possum Records for having the foresight and inspiration to re-introduce an overlooked American gem to a mainstream audience.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (12/26/02, p.104) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2002"

Rolling Stone (7/25/02, p.73) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Some tracks sound as if they could be forgotten gems from the heyday of soul...and some have the galvanizing intensity of spirituals, but all of them share one essential trait: They wouldn't be nearly as rousing sung by anybody else..."

Entertainment Weekly (7/26/02, p.68) - "...Astonishing...Burke's baritone breathes fire into 11 instant classics..." - Rating: A

Q (9/02, p.101) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Brilliant."

Uncut (1/03, p.95) - Ranked #14 in Uncut's "100 Best Albums of the Year"

Uncut (9/02, p.112) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...one of the few towering voices still surviving from soul music's golden age...makes no concessions to contemporary R&B fashions..."

Living Blues (9-10/02, p.44) - "...Burke is rarin' to go..."

Mojo (Publisher) (p.63) - Ranked #34 in Mojo's "100 Modern Classics" -- "[I]t was the preacher's transfixing baritone that gave DON'T GIVE UP...its durability."

Mojo (Publisher) (1/03, p.72) - Ranked #1 in Mojo's "Best Albums of 2002" - "...[A] rich, measured collection of classic soul singing..."

NME (Magazine) (7/20/02, p.44) - 9 out of 10 - "...As pure and proper a record as you'll hear all year. If you've ever laughed or cried, you need to hear this."
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