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This Weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Sam Cooke February 5, 2011

Posted by guestposter in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Another excellent installment in Yourcousin’s monthly contribution to TWIMBLT for which many thanks…

Finally a post on one of my favorite artists. The inspiration for this post came from my brother who linked to an NPR article about Sam Cooke’s 80th birthday. Had I been on the ball I would have done something that weekend, but that weekend happened to be my son’s second birthday so, more important things took precedence, like Thomas the Train Engine. Seriously, I hate that fucking train.

There is so much I could say I could easily write a large essay on the subject. While largely overshadowed by later souls singers such as James Brown, Sam Cooke is credited with being the man “who invented soul”. As always I prefer to let the music speak for itself without me doing enough “liner notes” for a whole album/career. A few small points before I send folks on their way.

My favorite SC album is Live at the Harlem Square club in ’63. Conversely one of my favorite Sam Cooke covers is off of the album, Live at the Copacabana in ’64. The difference in the albums and concerts is striking. At the Harlem square Cooke is largely unrestrained and you can him giving in, just a little bit to his rawer side and really engaging with the audience and feeding off of their energy. At the Copa, Sam Cooke is playing to a middle aged white audience and it shows. He plays it safe, always polite, articulate, a little bit of a swinger, but always stops short of anything unrestrained or even really, well, soulful. But my favorite track from that album is “If I Had A Hammer”. And I love it for all of the reasons above. I mean you’ve got this clean cut, polite black guy getting a bunch of middle aged, middle class, white people to sing a song about social justice. Maybe it’s just that I love irony more than most but that one song makes up for all of the other crap on that album (and believer the cover of Frankie and Johnny is crap).

Comments»

1. Mikeovswinton - February 5, 2011

Always nice to see good music being flagged up. But surely, the ‘man who invented soul’ was Mr Charles, wasn’t it? But who cares who got there first – Sam Cooke was great full stop. I think the comparision would be better made with Jackie Wilson rather than James Brown. There’s a Youtube of Sam C sing “My baby loves to cha cha cha” which has Jackie Wilson strolling on and joining in that’s worth a spin.
KTF as we say in the North of England.

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2. yourcousin - February 5, 2011

Mike…
If I wasn’t supposed to leave a b-day party in five minutes I would certainly take you up on the your assertion. Whether it was Ray or Sam is a hotly debated topic among soul fans. I cited James Brown because he is the “King of Soul”.

But we can most certainly agree on Sam Cooke being great, full stop.

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3. Chet Carter - February 6, 2011

I like all kinds of music with a passion but but there is something so life affirming about the emerging soul sound of the early sixties as it emerged from Gospel. I can’t argue with the general theory that Soul music evolved from Ray Charles to Sam Cooke and onto Otis Redding but there are so many great soul singers of that era it would be churlish to create a hierarchy. Going back to the roots it is well worth checking Little Willie John and his versions of ‘Fever’ and ‘I’m Shaking’. Those great retro rock n rollers the Blasters did a brilliant version of this on their first album. My all time favourite soul man – James Carr. I religously play Dark End of the Street at least every week.

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4. Mikeovswinton - February 6, 2011

Your cousin. I was only winding you up a little. There may even be other candidates. Get the stuff played and out there! The debates can be saved til later. Keep the faith.

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5. Mikeovswinton - February 6, 2011

Just remembered – one of the most interesting claims for the ‘man who invented soul’ I ever saw or heard was for Garnett Mimms. Howsabout that, then? (Can’t remember who made it or where, mind you. Must have been a long time back.)

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