May 26, 2008
Rhythm & Blues, Early R&B, Doo Wop

Album Review

Before breaking through to R&B/soul stardom in the early '60s on Atlantic Records, Solomon Burke had done some recording for other labels in the mid- to late '50s, mostly for Apollo between 1955 and 1957. This Is It has all 16 of the sides that were initially released on his Apollo 45s, making it a document of nearly all of his pre-Atlantic material. At this point, Burke had far less of a distinct vocal personality than the one that would emerge at Atlantic. At times there are echoes of the Platters and a foreshadowing of the smoky pop-soul style of Brook Benton, and while most of the songs are in the R&B/doo wop/early rock & roll mode, there are also a few gospel tunes. On some of the poppier ballads, as strange as it might seem, he even sounds a little like Elvis Presley; check out "For You and You Alone" for proof. It's also true that the material is rather average, and not on the level of what he'd cut during his Atlantic prime. For all that, however, it certainly isn't bad. It's fair mid-'50s R&B/rock & roll with a bit of gospel thrown in, and Burke's vocals are certainly strong even at this early point, though obviously he had a ways to develop. Serious Burke fans will like hearing this, though his legend lies firmly in his later work.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. I'm All Alone
  2. Christmas Presents
  3. I'm in Love
  4. Why Do Me That Way
  5. To Thee
  6. No Man Walks Alone
  7. Walking in a Dream
  8. You Can Run But You Can't Hide
  9. A Picture of You
  10. I Need You Tonight
  11. This Is It
  12. For You and You Alone
  13. You Are My One Love
  14. They Always Say
  15. Don't Cry
  16. My Heart Is a Chapel