1963, Music

Night Beat (1963) by Sam Cooke

The Sam Cooke I’m familiar with is a slick, polished soul singer, backed by lush, professional arrangements, singing catchy songs that blur the line between soul and pop. Not on this record.

The story with this record seems to be that Cooke and his band recorded these songs over a few nights. I doubt they were on tour together because it’s not the same musicians on each track but anyway they recorded relatively stripped down performances of these songs, mostly covers, often featuring just four or five musicians backing Cooke.

Cooke’s singing is excellent of course, but the thing that’s nice about this album is that there is only so much going on in the background. Cooke’s voice is front and centre in the mix and carries most of the melody. With the exception of the odd piano or guitar line, the other instruments are mostly just playing rhythm, leaving Cooke as the star. This works really well and it’s a shame Cooke didn’t record this way more often. (I get it, strings sell.)

I’ve only ever heard a Best Of before, so I have no idea how this compares to his other records as a set of songs, but I suspect it’s not the catchiest. But it does sound considerably more soulful than some of his most popular songs, which works for me.

8/10

  1. “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen” Traditional; arranged by Sam Cooke 3:22
  2. “Lost and Lookin'” James W. Alexander, Lowell Jordan 2:09
  3. “Mean Old World” Cooke 3:44
  4. “Please Don’t Drive Me Away” Charles Brown, Jesse Ervin 2:12
  5. “I Lost Everything” Ella Tate 3:19
  6. “Get Yourself Another Fool” Ernest Monroe Tucker, Frank A. Haywood 4:00
  7. “Little Red Rooster” Willie Dixon 2:50
  8. “Laughin’ and Clownin'” Cooke 3:34
  9. “Trouble Blues” Brown 3:18
  10. “You Gotta Move” Cooke 2:35
  11. “Fool’s Paradise” Johnny Fuller, Robert Geddins, David Avid 2:32
  12. “Shake, Rattle and Roll” Charles Calhoun 3:22
  • Sam Cooke – vocals
  • René Hall – conductor, guitar
  • Clifton White – guitar
  • Barney Kessell – guitar
  • Cliff Hils – bass guitar
  • Sharky Hall – drums, tambourine
  • Hal Blaine – drums
  • Ray Johnson – piano
  • Billy Preston – organ

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