BRING IT ON HOME-BLACK AMERICA SINGS SAM COOKE.

BRING IT ON HOME-BLACK AMERICA SINGS SAM COOKE.

By the time of his death on 11th December 1964, Sam Cooke was soul’s first superstar. Throughout his career, it seemed Sam could do no wrong. You Send It, Sam’s 1957 debut single, reached number one in the US Billboard and US R&B charts. This was was the start of a run of twenty-eight top forty singles that saw Sam Cooke’s career transformed. 

Between 1957 and 1964, Sam Cooke became one of the biggest names in music. For seven years, his records filled the airwaves. Many of these singles, Sam wrote and produced. That’s not all. In 1961, Sam founded his own record label, SAR Records, which released Sam’s singles. Not only was Sam soul’s first superstar, but soul’s first entrepreneur.

Three years later, SAR Records was a successful record company. Sam was its most successful artist. That’s no surprise. By 1964, Sam was enjoying the most successful period of his eight year career. His popularity was at an all-time high. It seemed Sam Cooke could do no wrong. Then on 11th December 1964, thirty-three year old Sam Cooke’s life ended in a hail of bullets. That night, soul music lost its first superstar. Since then, a whole host of artists have covered Sam Cooke songs.

This includes the twenty-four artists who feature of Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke, which was recently released by Ace Records. Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke features Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, The Soul Stirrers, The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes and Sam and Dave. These artists are just some of the artists that feature on Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke, which I’ll pick the highlights of.

Opening Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke is The Ovations Featuring Louis Williams’ Havin’ A Party. This was released as single on MGM Records, reaching number fifty-six in the US Billboard 100 and number seven in the US R&B charts. For The Ovations, this was their final hit single. Havin’ A Party also lent its name to their 1973 album Having A Party, which was released on MGM Records. It was arranged and produced by Dan Greer. One of Having A Party’s highlights was the title-track, where The Ovations Featuring Louis Williams pay homage to a soul great.

Many people have covered You Send Me. This includes  Percy Sledge. He covered You Send Me on The Percy Sledge Way, which was released Atlantic Records in 1966. The album was produced by Quin Ivy and Marlin Greene. Just like the original version of You Send Me, Percy’s cover is understated. Percy literally toys with the lyrics, mixing melancholy, beauty and joy, as he gives thanks for the love he’s found.

In 1965, Otis Redding covered shake on his album Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul, which was released on Atco Records. Shake became the first single released after Otis’ death. Produced by Steve Cropper, this track owes a lot to Little Richard. It reached number seven in the US Billboard 100 and number two in the US R&B charts. No wonder. Otis stomps and vamps his way through Shake. Accompanied by braying horns, Otis grabs the song and makes it his own.

Sam Cooke was a huge influence on Bobby Womack. So it’s no surprise that Bobby covered I’m Gonna Forget About You. It featured on his 1970 album My Prescription, which was released on Minit. I’m Gonna Forget About You was released a single and gave Bobby a top thirty single. No wonder. It features the former Valentino unleashing a vocal masterclass that’s a mixture of power, passion and sheer soulfulness.

Before embarking upon a solo career, Sam was a member of The Soul Stirrers. One of the final songs he recorded with The Soul Stirrers was That’s Heaven To Me in 1961. It lay unreleased until the early seventies, when an overdubbed version was released. The version on Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke, is the spine-tingling original version.

Back in 1959, at one of Sam’s concerts, he met Little Anthony Gourdine. The two decided to collaborate on a song. The result was I’m Alright. It was released by Little Anthony and The Imperials later in 1959. It’s literally, an explosion of hooks and happiness.

Ever since Sam, Herb Albert and Lou Adler penned Wonderful World, it’s been an oft covered song. A whole host of artists have covered Wonderful World. This includes Johnny Nash in 1976. He recorded his cover in Muscle Shoals, along with the rest of his 1977 album What A Wonderful World. It was produced by Mickey Buckins and Sonny Limbo. They increased the tempo and transformed the song into a slice of musical sunshine. Despite this, the single stalled at just number sixty-six in the US R&B charts.

In 1969, Brenton Wood covered A Change Is Gonna Come. It was released as a single on Double Shot Records. Sadly, it failed to replicate the success Sam’s original enjoyed. That’s despite a vocal that stays trues to Sam’s version. It’s a mixture of despair, hurt and hope for the future. Brenton sounds as if he’s seen too much. As a result, it’s a powerful interpretation of one of Sam’s finest songs.

1970 saw Lou Rawls released an album of  Sam Cooke songs, entitled Bring It On Home….And Other Sam Cooke Hits. It was released on Capitol Records.  Lou gave then ten tracks his own unmistakable twist. This includes Win Your Love For Me. Just like the other tracks, it was recorded at FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals. Producing Bring It On Home….And Other Sam Cooke Hits was David Axelrod and Rick Hall. They provided a glorious Southern Soul backdrop for Lou as he unleashes a heartfelt, needy vocal.

On Aretha Franklin’s 1967 eponymous album, she covers Sam Cooke’s Good Times. This was Aretha’s Atlantic Records’ debut.  Aretha Franklin reached number five in the US Billboard 200 and number one in the US Billboard 200 charts. For Aretha, this was the start of a period where she’d be crowned the Queen of Soul. Good Times was a taste of what was to come from Aretha Franklin during the next five years.

Sam and Dave’s Soothe Me closes Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke. Soothe Me was a track from Sam and Dave’s 1966 album Double Dynamite. It was released on Stax. So was their 1967 single Soothe Me, which features the soul men creating a joyous slice of Sweet Soul Music.

After his death in 1967, Sam Cooke left behind a rich musical legacy.  So, it’s no surprise that for the last fifty years, a whole host of artists have covered Sam Cooke’s songs. This includes the twenty-four tracks covered on Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke, which was recently released by Ace Records. 

On Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke, the great and good of soul pay homage to Sam Cooke. This includes everyone from Percy Sledge, Otis Redding, Bobby Womack, The Soul Stirrers, The Miracles, Lou Rawls, Aretha Franklin, to The Supremes and Sam and Dave. That’s no surprise. Sam Cooke influenced each and every one of these artists. So, it’s no surprise that these artists wanted to pay tribute to soul’s first superstar, who died on 11th December 1964.

Now, nearly fifty years since the death of Sam Cooke, Ace Records have brought together twenty-four of these tracks on Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke. It’s a belated celebration of the music of Sam Cooke. 

For too long, Sam Cooke’s music hasn’t been celebrated. Especially when you compare the music industry has been celebrated other soul singers. This includes Otis Redding. Otis died far too young. He was just twenty-six when he died in a  plane crash. However, the manner of Otis Redding’s death meant that his record company wanted to celebrate his music. With Sam, this was very different.

There was a very good reason for that, the manner of Sam’s death. Sam Cooke’s death was shrouded in controversy. Nobody knew for certain what happened. Was Sam in the wrong or wronged? Even today, nobody knows. Rumours and conjecture surround what happened at the Hacienda Motel, Los Angeles. Sadly, we’ll never know for sure the truth surrounding Sam Cooke’s death. As a result, for the past fifty years, the music industry seems to have been somewhat reticent about celebrating the music of Sam Cooke. However, with fiftieth anniversary of Sam Cooke’s death fast approaching, now it seems, is the time to celebrate the life and music of Sam Cooke. 

What better way to do this, than with a compilation featuring the great and good of soul music? That’s what Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke is. It’s twenty-four of soul music’s biggest names, paying homage to one its most talented sons, on Bring It On Home-Black America Sings Sam Cooke. 

BRING IT ON HOME-BLACK AMERICA SINGS SAM COOKE.

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