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Baker's Dozen

Perfect 13: Paul Heaton's Favourite Albums
Adrian Lobb , August 16th, 2017 07:30

Paul Heaton ex of the Housemartins and Beautiful South guides Adrian Lobb through 13 favourite albums - there's a lot of soul in there, but which ones did he nick?

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Solomon Burke - Soul Alive
A fantastic live album. I was brought up on live albums. When I was young my brothers, and particularly Mark my oldest brother, would often play Quo Live or Peter Frampton Live and they were massive sellling albums. It became less of a thing. The last big live album I remember was probably the Ramones.

I bought this when it came out in 1985 because it was sort of a greatest hits – but when I played it, I was really delighted to hear how he spoke between the songs and how he introduced the songs. He realises, like a few of the soul artists, that his main audience were women. He has this marvellous way of getting the women in the audience excited and making them think the song was especially for them, and from a feminist perspective. He is coming in and telling stories, "If he doesn't respect you, if you have children and you are a single mother, get rid of him". All this stuff. He has a really good way with the audience before breaking into song.

I found it really inspiring that a soul singer would have those left-leaning thoughts. A lot of them didn't. Joe Tex, for example, every second song was something to do with women serving him. I followed Solomon Burke since getting a Best Of… album from Oxfam when I was about 14. It had 'Hanging Up My Heart For You' and 'Down In The Valley' and stuff like that, and he does all those songs on here – it was lovely to hear his translation, what he meant by them.

I went on being a fan until he died. I got his last album which was made in Amsterdam. I saw a lot of the old blues and soul singers live, but not him. When I'm obsessed like I was with Solomon Burke, Otis Redding and Al Green, it really matters about their personality. Al Green's, I always felt, was quite odd. He was scarred from his fame in the 70s and then found the church, while Solomon Burke was more of an honest, straightforward preacher. He is going into these little mini sermons about the rights and wrongs of men and the characters in the songs. I found that hugely entertaining and still do.


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