Sam Cooke

The Unforgettable Sam Cooke

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When Sam Cooke brought his gospel-inspired singing into the secular pop world in the late '50s and early '60s, he almost singlehandedly created the template for soul music, and make no mistake, Cooke not only knew exactly what he was doing, he was also in complete control of it -- he wasn’t a label puppet by any means. This nine-song sampler draws on secular material he recorded between 1956 and 1963, and while it contains the immortal “Wonderful World” from 1960, most of these sides weren’t hits and fall to the nice but not essential side of the tracks. Cooke could sing anything and make it sound immediate and beautiful, as he does here with “It’s All Right” from 1961 and 1956’s “With You,” but aside from “Wonderful World,” these tracks only begin to hint at his immense and irresistible talent. There’s nothing wrong with anything collected in this brief set -- there just isn’t enough of it.

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