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Live at the Harlem Square Club 1963 Live

4.7 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Live, October 25, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Most of Sam Cooke's pop hits were sugary, blanched affairs. This album was the real deal, giving us the church-reared R&B singer who liked to tear up the clubs along the Southern chitlin circuit. Recorded in Florida in 1963, Live at the Harlem Square captures the man at his sanctified, sandpapered best--the voice worshipped by disciples from Otis Redding to Rod Stewart. No syrupy glissandos or polite Hollywood chorales here: this is sweat-drenched, back-to-basics R&B, with Sam tearing up "Feel It" and "Chain Gang," and rasping his way through "Somebody Have Mercy" and "Bring It on Home to Me." This set only makes it seem sadder that Cooke never lived to reign in the soul era he inaugurated. --Barney Hoskyns

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Feel It
  2. Chain Gang
  3. Cupid
  4. Medley: It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons
  5. Twistin' The Night Away
  6. Somebody Have Mercy
  7. Bring It On Home To Me
  8. Nothing Can Change This Love
  9. Having A Party


Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: RCA
  • ASIN: B000002W7N
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,566 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Sam Cooke Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
After reading all the reviews, my wife bought me both the old and the new version of this CD, along with Peter Guralnik's new biography, "Dream Boogie," for the holidays. (I had the old version already on vinyl.) So I've had an opportunity to listen to both versions side by side.

It seems clear in the new version that the primary goal of the producer was to bring Sam Cooke's voice as far out in front of the mix as possible. The good news is that this goal is accomplished. The details of his voice are much more exposed, as if we were listening to the microphone closest to him, and one can indeed hear more -- his phrasing is clearer, the rawness is more noticable, even a few missteps are much more evident. (It sounds like he starts the wrong song at the beginning of Cupid, and then covers by stopping himself and talking to the audience. But the new version makes the muff, and his evident amusement, even more clear than the original.)

The bad news is that, as some reviews point out, making the lead vocal more prominent obscures the crowd at times and, less forgivably, King Curtis's saxophone and the rest of the band.

The easiest way of characterizing the difference between the two versions is that the original is probably closer to the way the show would have sounded if you had been in the audience at the back of the hall. The new version is what you would have heard at a mixing board through your headphones, turning Sam's mike all the way up. (Not that there was one necessarily at the time.)

Which one is better? The differences are subtle, and ultimately you can't go wrong with either -- this is an essential recording for any well rounded collection.
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Format: Audio CD
Sam Cooke was one phenomenal singer. But not only did he sing like no other, he also wrote most of his hits, virtually ran his own recording sessions and had his own company. He could make that voice glide and soar and do loop de loops before making a clean landing. And unlike today's singers who want to blow you away by fiddling around with notes in such a self serving manner (not the song's) that all their tricks add up to nothing but vocal masterbation, Sam found areas to fly around in while never leaving the song behind. He's been my favorite singer for more years than I can rembember. However there was a time way back when his music hit a snag with me for awhile. Too lightweight, too cute, too... before soul, you know what I mean. I became hip to the fact that there was a live album on RCA, long out of print, that I had to track down. Surely, Sam Cooke "live" in front of an audience would reveal something else that was lurking underneath all those pop hits. Something that occasionally shone through in a phrase or note here and there. Something a little more gritty, a little more soulful, something less polite and sweet. It took a few years but I finally got my hands on SAM COOKE LIVE AT THE COPA (this was before the advent of the cd, and reissue-heaven). I put the needle down. My jaw dropped and my heart sank. I knew Sam straddled the teen/adult market in the early days of rock n roll, when an artist was either in one camp or the other. And that back then the Copa crowd was strictly for the "grown-ups" who belonged to the big band era sound of the '40's. And here was Sam, doin' "Bill Bailey" "The Tennessee Waltz" and "The Best things in Life are Free".Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The original 'Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club' was the greatest live album of all time. Listening to it you feel jealous of everyone who was there. Never has a singer and and his band his audience been so in sync with each other. The crowd singalong with 'I love you for sentimental reasons' is as magical a recording as exists. The call and answer 'let me hear you say yeah!' on 'Bring it on home' is as exciting as music gets. No wonder the women in the audience are screaming to what sounds like the point of orgasm.

But this new mastered version takes all the audience vibes out. And it kills the amazingly hot sax counterpoints of King Curtis. Now it's just another CD. Man if aint broke don't fix it. But they did and they ruined it.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This remastering does a good job of accentuating the instruments and bringing the vocal more foreground but the audience is almost absent from this recording. If you want to hear the true power of this concert in all its glory buy the original copy.
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Format: Audio CD
I became an even bigger fan of Sam Cooke fan than I already was because of his live album 'At The Harlem Square Club' because it showed him as he really was. It is more a gospel album but with secular tunes. It's one of the few albums that after five years I still enjoy listening to and I was delighted to read that there was a new reissue. However, it is a dissappointment.

Let's start with the reasons why this edition is better: first of all the artwork is very nice. A new front, more text and one of those neat cardboard covers, not the plastic case. The CD itself also looks great, as an old record. It also has a longer introduction and the final song 'Having A Party' has two minutes added. The sound does sound clearer, especially the guitars.

Here are the reasons why should look for the older edition
1. somehow the audience is mixed to the back. One thing what makes this album so great is the old gospel style call and answer with the audience, however they are sometimes hardly noticable on Feel It and Chain Gang.
2. Bring It On Home To Me in this live version is in my view the best Sam recording of all time. What especially makes it so great is the long 2 minute introduction where he tells the audience a story with Clif White's shivering guitar on the background. As a preacher he brings the audience slowly to an orgasmic highpoint when the opening notes of the Bring it on Home riff are being played. As in point number 1 unfortunately you can hardly hear the audience answer his pleas. However, it's now impossible to listen to these two things combined. The intro is now the outro of the preceding song and the song itself starts with the opening notes.
3. On the 'original' edition a saxophone can really be heard, I only hear it now because I know it's there.
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