Solomon Burke - I'll Never Stop Loving You (Never Ever Song)
The amazing comeback of Solomon Burke with his 2002 album Don't Give Up on Me is almost just another facet to his storied life and career. From his days as "Solomon the Wonder Boy Preacher" through his Atlantic hits of the '60s and lots of interesting records to his ministry, business enterprises, and 21 children and over 60 grandchildren, Burke is truly one of the soul survivors, whose grandiose storytelling (see this Roctober interview for a sample of Burke's style) and immense talent is worth experiencing. I saw Burke in concert in 2003 and I will simply say it was the best soul concert I've ever attended. Burke's comeback success has also spurred other comebacks by other equally-underestimated soul greats: Howard Tate's first album in 30+ years, Rediscovered, came out in 2003; Bettye LaVette's hit album I've Got My Own Hell to Raise came out in 2005 (Joe Henry, who produced Solomon's comeback album, was responsible for Bettye's smash); and Candi Staton has just released His Hands, her first secular recording in over twenty years, which is clearly cut from the Don't Give Up on Me / I've Got My Own Hell to Raise cloth.
By the time Solomon recorded today's selection, Burke's association with Atlantic was long ended and Burke had jumped from Bell to MGM to ABC to the rapidly-declining Chess Records, for whom he provided a few minor hits in the label's final days. At Chess Burke redefined his sound, moving away from the country soul he had revisited in the early '70s to emulate Barry White's bedroom soul (he even availed himself of Gene Page, White's arranger). "I'll Never Stop Loving You" was one of Burke's final singles for Chess, owned at the time by Joe and Sylvia Robinson's All Platinum concern. The song leans more toward Johnny Watson than Barry White, but Burke (who is multi-tracked singing all parts) delivers a heartfelt lyric and wrings every drop of pleading out of his "never ever" closing. It's an interesting recording.
PS - As noted in the Roctober article, Burke's spoken intro included the telephone number of All Plantinum Records, although it may be a bit of storytelling by Burke to say that the label was deluged with phone calls as a result of the recording, considering that the single was commercially unsuccessful!