At 65, Burke is one of the last great singers of the '60s, when he and sometime colleagues, sometime competitors Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Sam & Dave made the Atlantic label the wellspring of soul -- with an occasional country twist.
A bear of a man, Burke has been working to lose weight so that he can get around onstage. In his last area appearance at the Rock Hall, he sang -- wearing a crown and a cape -- from a throne, backed by his longtime organist Rudy Copeland and a handful of fine local musicians. Burke's latest, expertly produced by Don Was, is a strong contemporary R&B album, sparked by tunes from Dylan, the Stones, and Hank Williams. Together with the leaner, more experimental Don't Give Up on Me, the 2002 "comeback" disc that earned the woefully underrated crooner his first Grammy, it gives Burke a contemporary repertoire that effectively refreshes his timeless charisma.