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Sam Cooke Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 Review

Compilation. Released 2006.  

BBC Review

Irresistible music for the long hot summer!

Alwyn Turner 2006

At the end of 1956 Sam Cooke, the hot young star of gospel, recorded his first pop song; six months later, he went too far and was thrown off his record-label for using white backing singers and string accompaniments. In the songs he recorded between then and his death in 1964, he could - along with Ray Charles - plausibly claim to have invented soul, bringing the soaring voice of gospel to cool, Latin-derived rhythms. He was also one of the first black artists to bridge the racial divide,his music proving enourmously popular with black and white audiences alike.

This 30-track compilation rounds up all his best-known work, including self-penned classics like "You Send Me", "Twistin' the Night Away", "Cupid", "(What A) Wonderful World)", "Chain Gang" and "Bring It On Home To Me". All are distinguished by his conversational vocals ('Just talk the story', was his motto), hook-laden choruses and consistently inventive arrangements.

With perfect sound quality, and with sleeve-notes by Peter Guralnick, this is the best single-volume introduction to his work available -irresistible music for the long hot summer!

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