Just a few years after "Up Where We Belong" topped the charts, Joe Cocker found himself struggling to earn the attention of the audience he had just regained. It wasn't that he was recording uncommercial material. If anything, it was because he was trying too hard, as 1986's Cocker proves. He works with a variety of producers on the album, yet they all arrive at the same slick, mildly synthesized, vaguely soulful adult contemporary sound. Furthermore, neither the producers nor Cocker have found consistently interesting material. There are some good moments on Cocker that do justice to his still robust voice -- "Shelter Me" is a reasonably entertaining new effort, and Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" was a good cover choice, as was Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On," even if Richie Zito's production on the latter is a little too slick. Still, isolated moments of life can't quite make up for the preponderence of bland material and the turgid production, and Cocker winds up being another frustratingly uneven effort from a talented singer.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine