Solomon Burke's first recorded work had been on the Apollo label in the late 50s, but he had seen little success at first and subsequently left the music business to start a family. However he was enticed back in 1960 and signed to Atlantic Records, who had an impressive track record as an R&B label, and were looking for a new star after parting ways with Ray Charles.
It was with Atlantic that Solomon Burke scored his first hits - "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)" was a #7 R&B hit in 1961, and also crossed over onto the pop chart at #24. The composition dated back to 1953, when it had orginally been a country hit for Faron Young (adapting country songs into soul songs became something of a habit for Burke). 1962 saw an even bigger success with "Cry To Me" (#5 R&B). Don Covay's "I'm Hanging Up My Heart For You" got to #15, and it's b-side "Down In The Valley" also charted at #20. These early hits saw him developing into one of the finest soul singers of the era under Atlantic's supervision.
In 1963 he had his biggest hit to date, the ballad "If You Need Me" charting as a #2 R&B hit. The song was written by one Wilson Pickett, and eclipsed the author's own version (though Pickett soon signed with Atlantic himself and came to see the same level of success as Burke). His first album for Atlantic came out the same year, focused around "If You Need Me". Most of the rest of the album consisted of singles which hadn't charted, and it didn't actually feature any of the '61-'62 hits. The album showed him to be an excellent soul singer with a wide range of R&B styles under his command, from raw gospel shouters to tender country-soul ballads.
Solomon Burke (1962) <|> Rock 'n' Soul (1964)
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