Sam Cooke was only a tender 19 years of age when he was tapped to replace R.H. Harris as the lead singer of legendary gospel group the Soul Stirrers. Cooke's break came when Soul Stirrer baritone R.B. Robinson saw him perform with the Highway Q.C.'s and decided to take the young singer under his wing. Well, if this recording is any indication, Cooke was already the master and everyone else, students. Cooke gives a command performance running in and out of the Stirrers' characteristically solid backing. Never sounding better, he lends energy and sense of teenage desperation to this set of gospel classics and originals. Especially outstanding are the tracks "I'm on the Firing Line," "Jesus Will Lead Me to That Promised Land," and the brilliantly arranged "Jesus Paid the Debt." It wouldn't be until 1958 that Sam Cooke would break into the pop charts, but this record reveals he was a consummate performer. As a total unknown suddenly thrust into leading the most popular gospel group in America, Cooke breaks not a sweat. An excellent, though largely forgotten, record.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Whitener