sam cooke

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Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend 1951-64 (Abkco)

Sam Cooke: Portrait of a Legend 1951-64 (Abkco)

It seems a shame that this great soul singer -- who was shot in strange and sad circumstances in late '64 -- should be relegated to classic hits radio and soundtracks on the basis of a few of his hits: You Send Me, What A Wonderful World, Bring It On Home To Me, Another Saturday Night . . . Cooke's wonderful gospel-into-pop sound of 1959-65...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

This Englishman with an unexpectedly soulful voice was one of the first artists posted at Elsewhere back in mid 2006 and that astonishing album People Gonna Talk was easily among the best of that year. But in this country with very little publicity (I saw none) it rose without a trace. Still, those who heard it got a wonderful slice of...

ARETHA FRANKLIN, THE QUEEN OF SOUL: Oh, how the mighty have risen

ARETHA FRANKLIN, THE QUEEN OF SOUL: Oh, how the mighty have risen

When American critic Dave Marsh complied his The Heart of Rock and Soul in the early 90s -- a free-swinging personal recount of the “1001 greatest singles ever made” from doo-wop Moondogs (1955) to dance floor Madonna (1985) -- one name turned up repeatedly. For those who nostalgically put Abba up the charts again (and again)...

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain (SonyBMG)

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain (SonyBMG)

Frankly, after his last album - the excellent Till the Sun Turns Black which was acclaimed at Elsewhere and probably elsewhere - this is a little disappointing, but not in the way you might think. Where Sun was a muted and often melancholy affair which in places sounded close to Nick Drake and an early but glum Van Morrison, this one goes the...

Van Morrison: What's Wrong With This Picture? (Blue Note)

Van Morrison: What's Wrong With This Picture? (Blue Note)

Wordsworth, more fool him, peaked early. The first edition of his groundbreaking Lyrical Ballads collection with fellow poet Coleridge was published in 1798 when he was 28. In the following decades (notably his revised editions) it was mostly downhill. Sure, he wrote some later stuff worth studying in late-degree Eng. Lit classes, but the...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Aretha Franklin; The Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Aretha Franklin; The Original Album Series (Rhino)

It's widely acknowledged that Columbia really didn't know what to do with the young Aretha Franklin -- although it is a convenient myth that she didn't record much for them worth hearing. But it is certainly true that when she moved to Atlantic in '66 at age 24 and came under the tutelage of Jerry Wexler she found her voice as the finest...

Angelique Kidjo: Oyo (Razor and Tie/Shock)

Angelique Kidjo: Oyo (Razor and Tie/Shock)

When singer Kidjo from Benin emerged in the early Nineties it seemed to me she got more mileage than she deserved, largely on the back of her story and looks rather than the music. Her early albums prior to and including Aye ('94?) really did nothing for me and so I tuned out for a while. But then it became increasingly clear that Kidjo was...

SAM COOKE, GOSPEL INTO POP: The change was always gonna come

SAM COOKE, GOSPEL INTO POP: The change was always gonna come

At this distance, we can’t be expected to understand what the death of Sam Cooke in the sleazy Hacienda Motel in ’64 meant to black Americans. The former gospel singer was found slumped against a wall – naked except for an overcoat and one shoe, gunned down by the motel owner after a woman he’d picked up in a bar...

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

The previous album by this white boy singin' soul music -- Roll With You -- was considered a Best of Elsewhere 2008 release but didn't quite make it into mainstream media or thinking. This time around, for a slightly lesser album, he's been picking up big press . . . and again he certainly deserves it. He may have come from Boston but he...

Jamie Liddell: Compass (Warp/Border)

Jamie Liddell: Compass (Warp/Border)

There is certainly no shortage of white soul singers these days (Hall and Oates seem to be making a comeback too), but Liddell from the UK brings a neat post-Prince funky skew and a techno-twist to his songs which, stripped of some of the considerable sonic effects and colours here, still stand as fine, inner-city soul vehicles for his high but...

Eddie Hinton: I Want a Woman (1986)

Eddie Hinton: I Want a Woman (1986)

Alabama-born Eddie Hinton (1944-95) is hardly a household name but was one of the great Southern soul songwriters and sessionmen. As a Muscle Shoals musician he played guitar on scores of sessions (for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Boz Scaggs, Elvis to Solomon Burke) and was a prolific, if under-recorded, songwriter. His most notable hit...

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

By the time Van Morrison released his double album Hymns to the Silence in '91, many of his longtime followers had moved on -- some disappointed by so many uneven albums, some just having enough Van in their lives. Over two discs, Hymns to the Silence was just too much Van, and even the most generous reviewers had to note many songs were not...

ROD STEWART, STORYTELLER: The easy case for the defense

ROD STEWART, STORYTELLER: The easy case for the defense

It was always easy for me to forgive Rod Stewart his excesses and mistakes. His graduation from soulful r’n’b singer through frontman impersonations with the boys-night-out Faces band and into a solo career was a pleasure to watch. When he wasn’t being entertaining, he was tearing your heart out with his singularly...

LISTENING TO VAN MORRISON by GREIL MARCUS

LISTENING TO VAN MORRISON by GREIL MARCUS

Music writer Marcus is so well ensconced in the pantheon of great rock writers that his books are universally hailed on publication. But this one -- a series of essays on Morrison's music which, confusingly, comes in the same cover photo as another similar Morrison book and appears in the US and UK entitled When That Rough God Goes Riding --...

CLIMIE FISHER INTERVIEWED (1988): Studio changes everything

CLIMIE FISHER INTERVIEWED (1988): Studio changes everything

The rock music thing used to be quite straightforward. A few people got together, practiced a few covers, wrote some original material and the band honed its act in pubs and clubs and on the road. Somewhere down the line a record company appeared and the band made records. These days that process can be reversed. Noel Crombie of...

AL GREEN INTERVIEWED (2004): Soul from pulpit to the street

AL GREEN INTERVIEWED (2004): Soul from pulpit to the street

In Memphis, a few kilometres south of Graceland is a small church in Hale Rd, a sidestreet off Highway 51 also known as Elvis Presley Boulevard. Not many music lovers make it this far; they are waylaid by the fridge magnets, postcards and facsimile of Elvis' drivers licence further back up the highway, or are taking the tour around the room...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Adele: 21 (XL)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Adele: 21 (XL)

Adele's debut album of two years ago -- 19, when she was 19 -- announced the arrival of a great British soul voice even if some of her original material wasn't quite as strong as it could have been. Still, she was only 19 -- but she hardly deserved to be lumped in with the new breed of British women singers coming through (notably Amy...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Wilson Pickett; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Wilson Pickett; Original Album Series (Rhino)

For many people their sole knowledge of Wilson Pickett might be as the guy who did/didn't turn up at the end of The Comittments, the invisible inspiation for that band. A few might know of his great song Land of 1000 Dances which -- ironicaly, like the Beatles' Twist and Shout -- came right at the end of the so-called dance craze era, or...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

Long an Elsewhere favourite, Eli Paperboy Reed's 2008 album Roll With You made the list of Best of Elsewhere for that year, and his follow-up Come And Get It of 2010 also got very favourable notice. Reed is a conduit for the great soul voices of the past -- Sam Cooke, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and others -- but he brings deep...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Margie Joseph; Original Album Series (Atlantic/Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Margie Joseph; Original Album Series (Atlantic/Rhino)

The point of the on-going weekly Bargain Buy suggestion is not just to direct readers to fine music going cheap, but to also encourage you to take a chance on an unknown or only vaguely familiar name because the album(s) recommended are . . . yes, cheap. A perfect example is this five CD set by Margie Joseph out of Mississippi whose pedigree...

Nina Simone: Cottage For Sale (1957)

Nina Simone: Cottage For Sale (1957)

At the very end of the Keith Richards' doco project about Chuck Berry, Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll, we see Chuck sitting quietly with his electric guitar (pianist Johnnie Johnson mostly off camera, see clip below) singing the beautifully wistful Cottage For Sale. It was a reminder of two things: That despite all the evidence which preceeded it...

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

When Rod Stewart came to New Zealand in 1992 he wasn't doing any interviews. He was sick of questions about his then-wife Rachel Hunter. And so the shutters went up. I spoke with him. It was easy. I simply let it be known I couldn't give a toss about his wife, I wanted to talk to him as a singer and songwriter (an aspect of Rod which is too...

James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

James Hunter, People Gonna Talk (Rounder/Elite) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

This unashamedly enjoyable album is crammed full of songs where Hunter's velvet soulful r'n'b vocals are placed alongside a superbly tight little band of upright bass, saxophones and locked-in drums. It is only when a sometimes skittering sax or Hunter's angular guitar parts come in you realise this isn't some 60s reissue or lost Sam Cooke...

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