The 2005 studio album from the most passionate & distinctive voice of the rock era, making 12 modern classics, from Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, R.E.M., Margin Gaye, & more, his very own.
While Rod Stewart was busy chasing American songbook classics up the charts in Cole Porter drag
, 60's Brit-soul colleague Joe Cocker pursued a more contemporary and compelling set of standards. The material here stretches from the soulful American r&b hits that first inspired the gritty-voiced singer to their modern progeny, emotive ballads like REM's "Everybody Hurts" and the compelling studio/live takes of U2's "One" that bookend the album. Cocker revisits old inspirations Lennon ("Jealous Guy" recast as warm, Caribbean-rhythmed r&b) and McCartney (a grand, if less inspired "Maybe I'm Amazed"), but it's on more vintage material like "Chain of Fools" and Lieber-Stoller's "I Keep Forgetting" and "I (Who Have Nothing)" that Cocker truly invests his considerable interpretative instincts. Jeff Beck solos with tasteful, typically elastic lyricism on the latter, while fellow ax icon Eric Clapton torches "I Put A Spell On You" with his own bluesy fire. But as brilliant as Cocker and his session cohorts (who also include Steve Lukather and Dean Parks) often are, their efforts sometimes skid on C.J. Vanston's way-too-slick production; aiming for the middle of the road, Vanston instead drives material like James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" and Cocker's otherwise lovely read of "Everybody Hurts" towards a ditch. --Jerry McCulley