Sam Cooke

Cooke's Tour/Hit Kit

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Sam Cooke's debut album for RCA was a fundamentally flawed attempt to shoehorn his singing into a safe, MOR pop concept album, showcasing songs about different parts of the world. The strings and harps are almost overpowering and, given what Cooke should have been singing for his first LP for the label, are doubly inappropriate. The repertory is about as safe as can be, including "Jamaica Farewell," "South of the Border," "Bali Ha'i," "Arrivederci, Roma," and "London by Night" -- the only surprise is Earl Robinson's "The House I Live In," which was associated with Josh White and Frank Sinatra and, in its own way, was part of the 1940s roots of the modern Civil Rights movement. Cooke would later get a lot more topical and soulful.