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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
The King Live at AVO Session Basel
Distributed by MVD Visual
NTSC DVD - 75 minutes
4:3 Full Screen w/Dolby Surround sound
Solomon Burke is indeed the reigning king of Soul - the last of his generation. Burke had a number of hits in the sixties before changing musical trends pushed him to the sidelines for several decades. He had a part in the movie “The Big Easy” and received some attention when the Blues Brothers covered one of his hits, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.” In the last five years, his career has been revitalized through three new recordings, each one gathering plenty of praise and critical acclaim. One listen is enough to demonstrate that Burke’s voice is still a marvelous instrument that can sing with power in the low register and then soar into the upper end of the scale.
This show from November 8, 2003 captures the full-blown King Solomon show in all of it’s glory. After two instrumentals for the band, Burke arrives on stage and takes a seat on his throne, necessary because he weighs well over three hundred pounds. He quickly demonstrates his vocal prowess on a burnin’ take of “Down in the Valley,” with an animated Burke playing to the audience. He follows with a Tom Waits ballad, “Diamonds in Your Mind”, hitting and holding a note at the end as easily as he did four decades ago.
Other highlights include a soulful “Georgia” with some fine organ work from Will Smith. Burke doesn’t hold anything back as he lays down his personal testimony to love. The super-charged version of “Cry to Me” provides further proof that Burke hasn’t lost a thing. He slows the pace for a heartfelt take of “A Change is Gonna Come,” breathing life into this well-worn classic.
The disc bogs down when Burke turns the mic over to his seventh son, warning him not to do any rap. Instead his son sings “Mona Lisa” and in the process shows he is not in his father’s class as a singer. But he is better than his sister, who follows with a lackluster attempt at “I Will Survive.” Burke probably wanted these performances included but they are a distraction and not up to the quality of the rest of the disc. The set also includes three medleys that include classic rock and soul tunes. Solomon makes each one interesting but it would have been nice to hear him do a couple more of his own tunes instead. Towards the end of the set, Burke invites members of the audience on stage to dance, making sure to keep the entertainment value high.
This disc provides a very solid performance of a giant of soul, still able to rock the house, even if he has to do it sitting down. Some tactful editing could have created a stronger package. But this is the only live show that I am aware of Burke on DVD. He wins the audience over with his spirited performance and his vocal artistry. You will definitely want this one if you are already a fan.