Solomon Burke - 1971 – Electronic Magnetism
Despite its futuristic title, ‘Electronic Magnetism’ is a decidedly downhome affair, with more of Solomon’s trademark blending of gospel, soul and country. Pop sensibilities run especially strong on his first MGM waxing as well: Burke dips in the songbooks of such diverse artists as Sly & The Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Elton John.
The charismatic title-track, “The Electronic Magnetism (That’s Heavy Baby)” nonetheless is all Solomon: a gentle, soothing country-soul ballad featuring a roaring vocal which is brilliantly juxtaposted with delicate string arrangements.
A1 The Electronic Magnetism 3:28
A2 Three Psalms of Elton (Your Song / Border Song / Take Me to the Pilot) 3:17
A3 You Can Run But You Can’t Hide 2:45
A4 All for the Love of Sunshine 4:20
A5 Bridge of Life 2:47
A6 Together We’ll Light Up the World 5:53
B1 Stand 2:55
B2 PSR 1983 4:18
B3 Looking Out My Back Door 3:59
B4 No Man Walks Alone 2:38
B5 J.C. I Know Who You Are 4:27
The opening of “Three Psalms of Elton” is pretty cheesy; only Solomon’s treatment of “Border Song“, which segues into “Take Me to the Pilot“, is truly convincing.
The re-recording of his classic “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” hardly differs from the original. The strings are more upfront, but the remainder is pure gospel soul.
And the gospel influence runs especially deep on the churchy, handclappin’ uptempo romp “All for the Love of Sunshine” and the slow burning message track “Together We’ll Light Up the World“.
Folksy wisdom prevails on the original “Bridge of Life“, another country soul slowie, and Solomon adds some hard rocking to procedures with a frenzied take on Sly Stone’s “Stand“. The funk is strongest on Burke’s self-penned ‘protest tune’ “PSR 1983“, which would also grace the ‘Cool Breeze’ soundtrack a year later.
“Looking Out My Back Door“, the CCR hit, didn’t bring Burke a hit as “Proud Mary” had done in 1969, but it’s a zesty performance all the same, incorporating a vicously funky bridge that’s perfectly suited for Solomon’s sermonizing. And sermonizing he does all over this LP, especially on the traditionally arranged gospel ballad “No Man Walks Alone“.
The absolute gem of this disc, however, is the celebratory and anthemic gospel rocker “J.C. I Know Who You Are” with its deep soul vocalizing, a pumping groove and a batallion of brass that all culminates in a busy, infectious, horn-heavy finale.
In all, an ecclectic, if highly satisfactory amalgamation of country, Southern Soul, gospel and rock.