Sam Cooke / Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers

Specialty Profiles

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When Art Rupe of Specialty Records first heard the master tape of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" in 1957, he declared that the track sounded "too white" for his label's R&B and gospel audience, and he passed on it, letting Cooke take the master tape out the door and over to Keen Records, who subsequently released it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Rupe was simply hoping Cooke would stick with the successful gospel sound he had been tracking since 1951 for Specialty as the lead singer of the legendary Soul Stirrers, a run that produced genre classics like "Jesus Gave Me Water," "Peace in the Valley," "The Last Mile of the Way," and the Cooke-composed "Touch the Hem of His Garment," all of which are included on this 14-song survey of the Soul Stirrers' Specialty Profiles. But Cooke wanted to sing secular material, as well, and he tested the water with "Lovable," originally released under the name Dale Cook. After "You Send Me" was a massive pop hit for Keen, Rupe dusted off another of Cooke's secular experiments, "I'll Come Running Back to You," overdubbed Rene Hall on guitar, and released it after the fact, watching it ride the coat tails of "You Send Me" up into the charts. Truth is, Cooke could sing anything, sacred or secular, and make it sound like pure soul, and there are many who feel that some of his finest vocals were done while he was with the Soul Stirrers. The evidence for that claim is here. [This profile collection includes a bonus disc that is essentially a sampler of other artists who recorded for Specialty Records.]

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 2:26 Amazon
2 2:58
3 2:36 Amazon
4 2:45
5 2:44
6
2:04
7
2:26
8 2:27
9 2:30
10 3:00 Amazon
11 2:20
12
2:29
13 2:46
14
2:31
blue highlight denotes track pick