Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers

Cooke, Sam, and The Soul Stirrers

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The Flip Side of Sam Cooke

Gospel was Sam Cooke's rock. It provided the inspiration for his most awesome vocal performances and furnished the structure of his most significant compositions, from "Touch the Hem of His Garment" to "A Change Is Gonna Come." Cooke (1931–1964) began singing with the Soul Stirrers in 1950—this collection opens with his first recording, "Peace in the Valley," from the following year. Over the next six years, he created a magnificent canon of modern songs of devotion, each sparked by his intently focused, world-changing ad-libs. Where most gospel groups put the emphasis on the sonorous harmonies and the canted repetition of key phrases, Cooke shaped the Soul Stirrers around more personal declarations; his work really begins when he finishes with the verses. Throughout this collection, on the imploring "Nearer to Thee" and the more woeful "Mean Old World," Cooke shows a profound understanding of life and spirituality without ever trying to sound "deep." That's almost a magic trick, and it places these vocal performances among the most carefree, wondrous, life-affirming, graceful, aweinspiring, and galvanizing ever directed to the heavens.

Genre: Gospel
Released: 1991, Specialty
Key Tracks: "Touch the Hem of His Garment," "Be with Me Jesus."
Catalog Choice: The Rhythm and the Blues
Next Stop: Aretha Franklin: Amazing Grace
After That: The Rance Allen Group: A Soulful Experience.
Book Page: 186

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