The Best of Sam Cooke
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11
Written by John Metzger
For a time, Sam Cooke ranked second only to Elvis Presley in his ability to craft commercially successful singles for RCA. Indeed, after garnering a great deal of attention in the gospel world for his work with the Soul Stirrers, he sold two million copies of You Send Me, the first pop tune to be released under his own name. He deftly avoided one-hit wonder status by following it with a seemingly endless stream of classic recordings: Chain Gang, Cupid, Wonderful World, Having a Party, Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha, Bring It on Home to Me, and Twistin’ the Night Away, among them. By 1962, he had amassed such a superlative suite of songs that RCA saw fit to compile The Best of Sam Cooke, a stellar collection that provided a magnificent overview of the first portion of his career. Although it has been reissued on several occasions, it amazingly has never been out of print. In its latest incarnation, the set features three solid but less essential bonus tracks — Win Your Love for Me, You Were Made for Me, and Nothing Can Change This Love — and taken in full, it’s easy to see why Cooke’s music has endured for so long. The problem, however, is that The Best of Sam Cooke recently was supplanted as the definitive retrospective by the 30-track, SACD-hybrid Portrait of a Legend 1951–1964, which not only boasts twice the amount of material, but also includes his post-1962 gems A Change Is Gonna Come, Shake, and Another Saturday Night. Nevertheless, The Best of Sam Cooke still serves as a concise, 39-minute introduction to one of most gifted vocalists in rock ’n‘ roll history — as long as one understands that it isn’t meant to be a comprehensive portrait.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box