Mojo (Publisher) - p.1113 stars out of 5
-- "Sweet '70s soul with that big voice out front. Hard to dislike."
Raven's That's Heavy Baby gathers 22 Solomon Burke rarities he recorded for MGM between 1971 and 1973, following his career-defining soul hits for Atlantic in the '60s. During his brief stint with the label, Burke produced two enjoyable soul/gospel/country-inspired albums, Electronic Magnetism and We're Almost Home, plus contributed a few songs to the soundtrack of the blaxploitation film Cool Breeze. The majority of these cuts maintain a consistently high performance level with the exception of three insipid cover versions from Electronic Magnetism. The problem with Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' out My Back Door," Sly Stone's "Stand," and especially, "Three Psalms of Elton: Your Song/Border Song/Take Me to the Pilot" has nothing to do with the material or Solomon Burke's performance, but with the flashy arrangements drenched in background vocals. Imagine former Osmonds producer and onetime MGM head honcho Mike Curb behind the controls of a Stax record; not even Solomon Burke's commanding, booming delivery could rise above such garishness. Luckily, the remaining material is decent, as are the rare singles from the period: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Georgia up North," and "Here Comes the Train." That's Heavy Baby is a welcome retrospective of scarce material from this deep soul master. ~ Al Campbell