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Solomon Burke Makes Do on Covers Disc

Soul legend covers Dylan, Stones on new album

February 25, 2005 12:00 AM ET

"I knocked this album up a couple of notches," Solomon Burke says of his latest effort, Make Do with What You Got, which hits stores March 1st. The record, the follow-up to the soul legend's high-profile 2002 return Don't Give Up on Me, finds the singer, velvety baritone intact, belting songs by the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Hank Williams.

His cover of Williams' high-minded "Wealth Won't Save Your Soul" feels commanding through Burke's husky croon. "I got a chance to express the feeling of Hank Williams like nobody else could in his own country spirit," he says. "And I got a chance to say, 'Gosh, Hank, we miss you.'"

While Don't Give Up felt like an intimate secret, earnest and brooding, Make Do is celebratory and rocking, with organs and electric guitar prominent in the mix. The up-tempo sound is due both to production work by veteran Don Was (the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt) and Burke's survivor mentality.

"When you think of someone like myself -- with five decades in this business, sixty-five years old with twenty-one children and seventy-four grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren -- I've already said [to fans], 'Don't give up on me,'" says the longtime preacher and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. "And you have to have the faith and strength yourself to say, 'I'm not giving up on me. I'm going to continue.'"

The title track, written specifically for Burke by Dr. John, is about just that. "At this point in my life, we just have to take what we have and turn it around and make it better," Burke muses. "It's always important to me to keep that touch of spirituality in what I'm doing and in everything we're recording."

Burke also covers "I Got the Blues" by the Rolling Stones. They famously covered Burke's "Everybody Needs Somebody," and now he's returning the favor.

"

Who would think the Rolling Stones would say, 'Solomon, here's a good song for you,'" says Burke, "'sing this one'?"

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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