ARTIST: Sam Cooke
TITLE: Portrait of a Legend: 1951-1964
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION:#19 UK
SINGLES: Most were: Top 10 hits: You Send Me (#1 US, #1 R&B, #29 UK), Chain Gang (#2 US, #2 R&B, #9 UK), Twistin’ the Night Away (#9 US, #1 R&B, #6 UK), Another Saturday Night (#10 US, #1 R&B, #23 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Many of them, but Wonderful World only hit #12 on the US pop charts! That’s practically his signature song – and it demonstrates how fickle the charts can be.
LINEUP: Sam Cooke and many session singers and musicians.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A great collection of Cooke’s best sides through his career.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sam Cooke had a long career – with the Soul Stirrers and solo on Keen and RCA records. He made a lot of albums, but many of them are hits+filler (though they do feature his voice) and some of them are hard to find or not available. The recordings for Keen and RCA, at times, weren’t on the same collections due to rights issues.
Cooke’s unfortunate death in 1964, which derailed his career, his stand alone record company, and also, like Buddy Holly, plans for new albums and recordings. Many releases were put out after he died, either finished up or tracks finished around him.
This, then, is the best collection and best place to start for Cooke’s legacy. There’s 30 tracks and almost all of them are top-notch. Cooke’s voice is unmistakable. The backing at times, though, is a bit white bread and stilted. Cooke carries the songs through as only he can.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: On this collection, there are two gospel tracks from the Soul Stirrers, and Cooke’s first secular single, which he released under a pseudonym.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: A: Sam Cooke is a legend. You need to have this in your collection, and imagine the white bread backing vocals away.