I can understand the reluctance to listen to pre-British Invasion LPs individually. So many of them are scattershot collections of singles, b-sides and filler and you’re often better off listening to a curated greatest hits package, unless you’re a really big fan of the artist, and want to hear them even at their laziest or most expedient.
But this record is not one of those collections, at least it doesn’t feel like that. Rather, it feels like a greatest hits record, because at least half the tracks here have become commonplace on Cooke’s best of and greatest hits collections. That’s a pretty damn high percentage of quality material to start. The other material is of a pretty high standard too, though, and there’s only a little of a decline from the tracks you know to the tracks you don’t.
Cooke’s music is often just a titch too slick for me but, on this record, it’s somewhat restrained compared to some of his slickest work. I still prefer the arrangements on Night Beat to this more conventional version of Cooke, but I will say again that the material here is so strong that it’s hard to gripe.
I have trouble believing there’s another Cooke LP that is up to this standard, though I have only heard a couple at this point, so maybe I’m wrong. Still, if you’re looking for a Sam Cooke LP to listen to, instead of a best of, you can’t go wrong with this one.
All songs written by Sam Cooke, except where noted.
- “Ain’t That Good News” – 2:30
- “Meet Me at Mary’s Place” – 2:44
- “Good Times” – 2:28
- “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day” (Sam Cooke, Beverly Prudhomme, Betty Prudhomme) – 2:34
- “Another Saturday Night” – 2:42
- “Tennessee Waltz” (Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart) – 3:12
- “A Change Is Gonna Come” – 3:13
- “Falling in Love” (Harold Battiste) – 2:45
- “Home” (Jeff Clarkson, Harry Clarkson, Peter van Steeden) – 2:32
- “Sittin’ in the Sun” (Irving Berlin) – 3:18
- “No Second Time” (Clifton White) – 3:03
- “The Riddle Song” (Traditional) – 2:30
- Sam Cooke – vocals
- Chuck Badie, Buddy Clark, Ray Pohlman, Clifford Hils, Eddie Tilman – bass guitar
- Joseph Gibbons – banjo
- Hal Blaine, John Boudreaux, Edward Hall, Earl Palmer – drums
- Norman Bartold, Le Roy Crume, Barney Kessel, John Pisano, Allen Reuss, Howard Roberts, Clifton White – guitar
- Emil Radocchia – marimba, percussion, timpani
- Linwood Mitchell – percussion
- Harold Battiste, Ray Johnson – piano
- Lincoln Mayorga – piano, celeste
- William Hinshaw – french horn
- Jewell Grant, William Green, Plas Johnson, Edgar Redmond, Red Tyler – saxophone
- Milton Bernhart, Ernest Tack, David Wells, John Halliburton, Harry Betts, Louis Blackburn, Streamline Ewing – trombone
- John Anderson, Melvin Lastie – trumpet
- Jesse Ehrlich, Emmet Sargeant – cello
- Harry Hyams, Alexander Neiman – viola
- Israel Baker, Robert Barene, Arnold Belnick, John DeVoogdt, William Kurasch, Irving Lipschultz, Leonard Malarsky, Jack Pepper, Ralph Schaeffer, Sid Sharp, Darrell Terwilliger, Tibor Zelig – violin
- James Bryant – backing vocals
- Gwenn Johnson – backing vocals
- Carol Lombard – backing vocals
- Robert Tebow – backing vocals
- George Tipton – backing vocals
- Jackie Ward – backing vocals
- The Soul Stirrers – backing vocals