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Sam Cooke

THE COMPLETE KEEN RECORDINGS (1957-1960)

ABKCO

In 1957, having spectacularly fallen out with Speciality Records, who’d released his gospel work with The Soul Stirrers, Sam Cooke hooked up with the newly minted Keen Records. By then, he was as much a sex symbol as spiritual singer, forced by a passionate single, Lovable, clandestinely released by one ‘Dale Cook’, to part with his band, for whom his blood had become too hot. That said, his acknowledged solo debut, You Send Me, which leads off this boxset of Cooke’s five, secular Keen LPs, was always destined to become his first number 1. It may seem less revolutionary today, but its blend of R&B, doowop and gospel laid a new path for soul music. In truth, plenty of Cooke’s output during this era sounds a little conservative, but these are nonetheless effortlessly sophisticated collections. His eponymous first album’s recordings are unadorned, but Summertime (Part 2) is typically, expansively expressive, and though its rock ‘n’ roll roots still show in Mary, Mary Lou, 1958’s Encore “ac-cent-tchu-ates” brass arrangements on songs like Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive. 1959’s singles comp Hit Kit also reminds us of Only Sixteen’s and You Were Made For Me’s impossible innocence, while another classy Summertime interpretation graces 1960’s The Wonderful World Of…, though it’s of course eclipsed by his own, defining title track. Almost universally, however, Cooke’s interpretations of other people’s songs – notably 1959’s homage to Billie Holliday, Tribute To The Lady – are as exquisite as his own, yet the biggest draw remains his wonderfully youthful voice. It’s like honey dripping off a silver 9 spoon. Wyndham Wallace8

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About Long Live Vinyl

ISSUE 35 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! In our first issue of 2020 we bring you the inside story of Bob Dylan's most diverse, divisive and fascinating decade – the 1970s. Dylan made eight hugely different studio albums in those 10 years, and we've rounded up some of his closest confidants and bandmates to tell the tale. It's a must-read for any fan of Mr Zimmerman. Elsewhere in issue 35, our packed interviews section features Angel Olsen, Seth Lakeman, The Go-Betweens, Field Music, DJ Shadow and Courteeners, plus we take an in-depth look at The Doors' Morrison Hotel and meet the music fanatics behind America's coolest label group – Secretly Canadian. If that's not enough, we bring you 40 essential folk-rock classics, a guide to building your perfect hi-fi setup in 2020 and the usual eclectic mix of vinyl columnists, news and reviews. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers.