Sam Cooke

Box sets as catalog ghetto

Collector's Disease

Sam Cooke

The RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Legacy)

Singing the phone book's one thing, but packaging said endeavor worse than the Yellow Pages prompts the question: Why bother? Reproduction of vinyl configurations on CD still makes as much sense as failing to include a magnifying loupe for said record miniatures. Of course, that matches an 8-CD minibox that would fit on half as many discs since each album averages 37 minutes. Worse, One Night Stand! Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club (in Miami with saxist King Curtis) takes the place of Cooke's final LP for the label, 1964's Ain't That Good News – before he became a "justifiable homicide" at 33. What RCA saddled the king of soul with when it acquired the free agent crooner in 1960 matches The RCA Albums Collection like a suit and tie. Cooke's Tour: Caribbean treacle. Hits of the 50's: Nat King Cole. Swing Low: o-r-c-h-e-s-t-r-a. My Kind of Blues: hardly. Twistin' the Night Away: "Camptown [Races] Twist," etc. Mr. Soul: OK, yes. Night Beat: RCA's left the building. Wait. But then, in order: "Jamaica Farewell," "Unchained Melody," "Chain Gang," "Since I Met You Baby," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Willow Weep for Me," etc. Sam Cooke could sing the White Pages.


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