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Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964 Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 401 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The greatest single-disc Sam Cooke collection ever, 30 tracks in SACD sound! Includes You Send Me; Chain Gang; Twistin' the Night Away; Shake; Little Red Rooster; Good Times; (What a) Wonderful World; Another Saturday Night; Cupid; Only Sixteen; A Change Is Gonna Come; Having a Party , and more career highlights. Indispensable!
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 17, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: ABKCO
  • ASIN: B00009N1ZV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (401 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #796 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Sam Cooke Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lonya VINE VOICE on November 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The word legend is tossed around too casually today. It seems to be applied in liberal doses even to one-hit wonders. Sam Cooke, and his body of exquisite work, is one performer truly deserving of the title legend. This CD, "Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend" does a fine job in putting the best of Sam in one CD.

There are quite a few Sam Cooke compilations out there but I think this one does as good a job as any in actually providing a portrait that extends beyond just his better known hits. Cooke, the son of a preacher and like many of his fellow 'soul-singers' started his career in Gospel. Cooke's gospel roots are evident in many of his great hits, including Bring it on Home to Me and A Change is Gonna Come. However, most Cooke compilations do not contain selections of his time as a lead singer with the Soul Stirrers, a Gospel Group.

This CD starts off with Touch the Hem of His Garment. This beautiful Gospel tune, written by Cooke, provides a nice entry point for the popular hits that follow. Those hits, including You Send Me, Only Sixteen, Shake, Twistin the Night Away, and Another Saturday Night are included in the compilation.

Although his upbeat tunes remain fresh and enjoyable, I think Cooke is at his best when he reaches down and evokes the more somber notes, when the blues begin to mix in with his soul. His Sad Mood remains a beautifully moving piece. Equally compelling is Bring it on Home to Me. His long time friend Lou Rawls provides the harmony and the call and refrain of the song evoke Cooke's earlier gospel work.

Equally stunning is Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come.
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Format: Audio CD
There's no track listing, and the disc is due out today. Luckily, I've got a promo:
1. Touch the Hem of His Garment
2. Lovable
3. You Send Me
4. Only Sixteen
5. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
6. Just For You
7. Win Your Love For Me
8. Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha
9. I'll Come Running Back to You
10. You Were Made For Me
11. Sad Mood
12. Cupid
13. (What a) Wonderful World
14. Chain Gang
15. Summertime
16. Little Red Rooster
17. Bring it on Home to Me
18. Nothing Can Change This Love
19. Sugar Dumpling
20. (Ain't That) Good News
21. Meet Me at Mary's Place
22. Twistin' the Night Away
23. Shake
24. Tennesse Waltz
25. Another Saturday Night
26. Good Times
27. Having a Party
28. That's Where It's At
29. A Change is Gonna Come
30. Jesus Gave Me Water
Remember "Man and His Music"? This basically takes its place. The sound is excellent (this SACD hybrid will play on both SACD and CD players so don't worry about it), far better than "Man and His Music," and the track selection is better. A bit more thorough with a few more tracks, it drops a few of the lighter, lesser tracks for some stronger ones like "Jesus Gave Me Water," "Little Red Rooster," "Summertime," and "Sugar Dumpling," which also paint a more complete picture of Cooke; "Rooster" is a great late-night blues number, and I highly recommend "Night Beat," the great Cooke album from which it came. I wish they kept "Soothe Me"; Sam & Dave and Cooke's proteges, the Simm Twins, did better renditions, but Cooke wrote the song, and he still recorded a very fine version.
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Format: Audio CD
This 30-song, one disc collection is Sam Cooke's most lovingly presented and essential single disc released to date. It builds on his 2LP "Man and His Music," itself a revelation when released in the mid-1980s. This set tops it due to remastered sound (this CD has a layer playable in Sony's SACD format), and R&B scholar/author Peter Guralnick's detailed liner notes. Guralnick, author of several books on Southern rock and soul, examines the roots of all 30 songs, performers backing and dueting with Cooke, his inspirations for writing and singing them.
This is important because Sam Cooke's songwriting and storytelling skills are as much his legacy as his Gospel music beginnings, his mysterious, untimely 1964 murder, and his influence on Steve Perry (whose "Lovin' Touchin', Squeezin" was a Cooke tribute of sorts), Rod Stewart (who claimed he listened only to Cooke records for two whole years as a teen), Terrence Trent D'Arby and a generation's rock and R&B singers.
Cooke's chart hits are here, except for the relatively minor "Soothe Me" and "Frankie & Johnny." You get his gentle, intricate vocal trills on his first singles for the Keen in the 1950s (1957's #1 "You Send Me," "Wonderful World," "Cupid"). You get his rethinks of country, blues, even pop standards ("Tennessee Waltz" becomes a gospel rave up; "Little Red Rooster" a slow churn blues with a teenage Billy Preston's extra cheesy organ, "Summertime" a vocal showcase with offbeat rhythm and guitar). Finally, you get Cooke's rollicking humor and detailed lyrics on his dance hits ("Shake," the dancers' garb and moves in "Twistin' the Night Away," the hip DJ requests in "Havin' A Party.")
Guralnick refers often to Cooke's phrasing, which found soul and poetry approximating daily speech.
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