Various Artists: Black America Sings Sam Cooke (Ace/Border)

 |   |  1 min read

Mel Carter: When a Boy Falls in Love
Various Artists: Black America Sings Sam Cooke (Ace/Border)

It was perhaps obvious that the on-going series Black America Sings -- which has seen compilations of black artists singing the songbooks of Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney, Bacharach and David, and Otis Redding: see here -- would come around to compiling covers of the smoothest and, some might say, the most popular soul singer of them all.

Sam Cooke's move from gospel to soul-infused pop seems as natural as waves rolling a shore when you listen to his songs between '57 and '64 (some of it collected on this disc). 

Cooke had an effortless style --  songs like You Send Me, Cupid, Wonderful World and A Change is Gonna Come are pop/soul cornerstones and timeless -- and across the 24 songs here we get mostly respectful treatments of hits and obscurities from Cooke's short but productive career.

Here are Percy Sledge (You Send Me), Otis Redding (Shake), Bobby Womack (I'm Gonna Forget About You), Eddie Floyd (Bring It On Home To Me), the Soul Stirrers in which he was a member and who who were signed to his SAR label (That's Heaven To Me), RB Greaves (Cupid) . . .

Also here are Little Anthony and the Imperials, Johnny Nash (Wonderful World of course), Brenton Wood (A Change is Gonna Come), Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, the Supremes, Sam and Dave ...

All artists you'd be happy to hear anyway, but more so here on this great soul-pop material.

Even so, there are real surprises . . . like Mel Carter whose version of When a Boy Falls in Love (a lyrically dense song that few would dare attempt) and -- because I'd never heard the name before -- I presumed the singer was woman, a soft and smoky style that was redolent of a polite Nina Simone with an orchestrated arrangement by Burt Bacharach.

It's a beautiful song . . . and Mel Carter was a 20-year old guy from Cincinnati, the song with an arrangement Joe Hooven.

Listen for yourself.

Lovely collection of songs by one of the greats, by many greats. 

Check out the first part of the doco below.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Drive-By Truckers: Ugly Buildings, Whores and Politicians; Greatest Hits 1998-2009 (New West)

Drive-By Truckers: Ugly Buildings, Whores and Politicians; Greatest Hits 1998-2009 (New West)

Those who have missed the career of Drive-By Truckers out of Athens, Georgia are advised to just dive in at their Southern Rock Opera of a decade ago (which gets four of the 16 tracks on this... > Read more

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE IDIOT BOY WHO FLEW: A story of saints, holy fools and Southern Italy

THE IDIOT BOY WHO FLEW: A story of saints, holy fools and Southern Italy

A strange journey begins with some good advice---the saint and storyteller---from Amalfi to ugly---the romance of Italy considered---a shocking discovery---the sad south---the idiot boy---the... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Lizzy Mercier Descloux

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Lizzy Mercier Descloux

So who was it rocked into downtown New York in the mid Seventies with her head full of Rimbaud? Who fell in with the CBGB crowd, had Richard Hell as a partner who saw her as his muse, and whose... > Read more