Sam Cooke

Reissues

Phases and Stages

Sam Cooke

Keep Movin' On (Abkco)

Sam Cooke

At the Copa (Abkco)

Sam Cooke

Portrait of a Legend, 1951-1964 (Abkco)

Sam Cooke

Legend DVD (Abkco) Sam Cooke was the "architect of soul music," begins the narration of the Legend DVD. "He combined gospel, pop, and rock & roll to create the model 1,000 singers would follow." Peter Guralnick has spoken. The celebrated music historian, who wrote Legend as well as the liner notes to Keep Movin' On, At the Copa, and Portrait of a Legend -- three of six Sam Cooke titles reissued by Abkco -- authoritates the ultimate tale of sweet soul music in anticipation of his upcoming Cooke biography. If it weren't for Allen "Abkco" Klein's jackpot with the Rolling Stones remasters last year, the Sam Cooke restoration project might look suspiciously like a vanity project for Guralnick. After all, 1994's exquisite, 2-CD Sam Cooke's SAR Records Story, 1959-1965 was revelatory enough the first time around to not necessarily demand reissue. Same for last year's Keep Movin' On collection, which lumps together effortless, bare-boned Cooke creams ("Cousin of Mine") and standards ("Basin Street Blues") with strangled strings ("I'm Just a Country Boy") and familiar favorites ("Another Saturday Night") -- almost all of them recorded in the year preceding Cooke's killing in 1964. "Yeah Man," rewritten to classic effect by Arthur Conley as "Sweet Soul Music," stands out amid the potpourri. Ain't That Good News is an older comp already redundant, and rendered more so by the new Portrait of a Legend, 1951-1964, which bests Abkco's 1986 CD career summation, The Man and His Music, with two more tracks (30), 10 more minutes (79), and a smoother flow. At the Copa captures Cooke just six months before his death, aching to cross over from pop to adult contemporary and failing miserably despite rave reviews; his stage patter is forced, his mirthless laugh grating. The sound of clinking dinnerware doesn't help. Tribute to the Lady, Cooke hitting on Lady Day, remains unavailable in the U.S. The Legend DVD, a 70-minute VH1 Legends segment from 2001, bulks up with two hours of uncut interviews from the special. "He was a cool dude," rumbles Lou Rawls in Legend. "Sam the Man. He was the man."

(Portrait of a Legend) ****

(Legend DVD) ***

(Keep Movin' On) **.5

(At the Copa) **

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Raoul Hernandez
Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something
The "Cat's in the Cradle" musician who was so much more

Oct. 23, 2020

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Oct. 23, 2020

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle