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Sam Cooke: Music To Smile To

Submitted by Tim on February 12, 2011 – 12:48 amNo Comment

When you think of music to drink cocktails to, it’s hard not to default to the Rat Pack. The music of Sammy, Dean, Frank and the boys does a martini justice. But to when you want to surprise your guests with someone they know but maybe have forgotten, someone who can range from memorable pop hits to gospel infused blues, I suggest that you reach for Sam Cooke: Portrait Of A Legend, 1951-1964.

Portrait of a Legeng Sam Cooke: Music To Smile To

With 31 songs, this impressive collection touches on the essence of Sam Cooke. Cooke had 29 top 40 hits during his career and they are all represented on this collection.

What makes this retrospective so great is all of the, “oh my God, I love this song” moments it contains. This is true not only for those of us who lived through the 1950′s and 60′s but also for anyone who watches popular movies. Animal House, Malcolm X, Ali, American Warewolf in London and countless other films all feature songs in this collection.

Pop favorites include “Chain Gang,” “You Send Me,” “Only Sixteen,” “Cupid,” “Another Saturday Night,” and the great “(What A) Wonderful World” which always brings a smile to my face. These are all easily digestible songs that make great background music that help stir memories and drive conversations.

From there, “Portrait Of A Legend” offers the gospel and blues that were Sam Cooke’s foundation as a young boy. Songs like “Touch The Hem of His Garment” and “Jesus Gave Me Water” are stirring and the original version of “Sumertime (And The Living’s Easy)” will turn guests’ heads.

But the opus of this collection is the posthumously released civil rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.” A song that musically resembles Ray Charles in the ABC days, Cooke delivers a heart felt plea for peace while attempting to also deliver a message of hope. It is a truly great song and one that pervades our culture having been referenced in many contemporary popular songs and was paraphrased in President Obama’s victory acceptance speech in Chicago.

Sam Cooke was truly one of the greats and has the accolades to prove it. He was named the fourth best vocalist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine and is a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This release even charted as high as 19 in the UK in 2005. I strongly recommend “Sam Cooke: Portrait Of A Legend, 1951-1964″ as a must have addition to any collection.

What is your favorite Sam Cooke song? Leave a comment and let us know.

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