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

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of New Orleans (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of New Orleans (Rough Guide/Southbound)

Here's the compilation many would want to compile . . . then flee a mile from. How could you win? No matter who you included there will be dozens if not scores or hundreds of artists/tracks which... > Read more

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

EPs by Shani.O

EPs by Shani.O

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column by the informed and opinionated Shani.O. She will scoop up some of those many EP releases, in... > Read more

The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)

The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)

While there are any number of Beatle albums which are essential, there is a case to be made that Rubber Soul -- which marked their transition from an increasingly banal and almost irrelevant pop... > Read more