I do know that the guy playing bass saxophone, also blew a mean harmonica as he so aptly demonstrated on the second song, "The Greeting Song," which heralded Solomon's entrance. He started singing off stage while the band was playing and then he made his way out. It's a laborious process because he weighs in at around 330 pounds and doesn't walk well (and that explained why there was a damned throne downstage centre) and he was also wearing a robe – reminiscent of James Brown but far more ornate and probably heavier.
Meanwhile the band is kicking out all the jams; Ricky Rouse on guitar playing with his teeth, Will Smith up and singing while pounding on the organ, and the horn section blowing up a storm. It sounded like we were in for an amazing concert and that Burke might actually deserve the mantle of King of Soul. My first inkling of trouble came when he had two huge vases of cut red roses hauled out onto stage alongside of him and he announced, "These are for the ladies"
Now there's showmanship, which is cool, but there starts to be a point where it begins to cross over the line into Las Vegas style bad taste. It's like the difference between how Elvis Presley was in the late fifties and that great concert in 1968, and how he was when he became a bloated caricature of himself in the seventies. Solomon Burke began to cross that line with his roses comments, and continued through out his concert to do the same.
After hearing his band do such amazing work on the opening two numbers, and seeing the line up of songs that he was to perform, I was expecting some genuine passion and great music. Instead it seemed like the edge had been removed from all the songs
Starting off with an insipid version of the country chestnut "Down In The Valley" and turning it into something even less emotionally powerful than the original helped drive the nails into the coffin of this concert disc. It might have been saved if he could have matched his band's soul, but he kept pulling them down to his level, so that the spotlight would remain on him. For all James Brown's purported ego, when he played it never seemed like the music was second fiddle to him, but that's not the case with Solomon Burke.