Medley: It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons [Medley] - Sam Cooke, Best, William
Twistin' the Night Away
Somebody Have Mercy
Bring It on Home to Me
Nothing Can Change This Love
Having a Party
Most of Sam Cooke's pop hits were sugary, blanched affairs. This album was the real deal, giving us the church-reared R&B singer who liked to tear up the clubs along the Southern chitlin circuit. Recorded in Florida in 196... more »3, Live at the Harlem Square captures the man at his sanctified, sandpapered best--the voice worshipped by disciples from Otis Redding to Rod Stewart. No syrupy glissandos or polite Hollywood chorales here: this is sweat-drenched, back-to-basics R&B, with Sam tearing up "Feel It" and "Chain Gang," and rasping his way through "Somebody Have Mercy" and "Bring It on Home to Me." This set only makes it seem sadder that Cooke never lived to reign in the soul era he inaugurated. --Barney Hoskyns« less
Most of Sam Cooke's pop hits were sugary, blanched affairs. This album was the real deal, giving us the church-reared R&B singer who liked to tear up the clubs along the Southern chitlin circuit. Recorded in Florida in 1963, Live at the Harlem Square captures the man at his sanctified, sandpapered best--the voice worshipped by disciples from Otis Redding to Rod Stewart. No syrupy glissandos or polite Hollywood chorales here: this is sweat-drenched, back-to-basics R&B, with Sam tearing up "Feel It" and "Chain Gang," and rasping his way through "Somebody Have Mercy" and "Bring It on Home to Me." This set only makes it seem sadder that Cooke never lived to reign in the soul era he inaugurated. --Barney Hoskyns
"Sam Cooke was one phenomenal singer. But not only did he sing like no other, he also wrote most of his hits, virtually ran his own recording sessions and had his own company. He could make that voice glide and soar and do loop de loops before making a clean landing. And unlike today's singers who want to blow you away by fiddling around with notes in such a self serving manner (not the song's) that all their tricks add up to nothing but vocal masterbation, Sam found areas to fly around in while never leaving the song behind. He's been my favorite singer for more years than I can rembember. However there was a time way back when his music hit a snag with me for awhile. Too lightweight, too cute, too... before soul, you know what I mean. I became hip to the fact that there was a live album on RCA, long out of print, that I had to track down. Surely, Sam Cooke "live" in front of an audience would reveal something else that was lurking underneath all those pop hits. Something that occasionally shone through in a phrase or note here and there. Something a little more gritty, a little more soulful, something less polite and sweet. It took a few years but I finally got my hands on SAM COOKE LIVE AT THE COPA (this was before the advent of the cd, and reissue-heaven). I put the needle down. My jaw dropped and my heart sank. I knew Sam straddled the teen/adult market in the early days of rock n roll, when an artist was either in one camp or the other. And that back then the Copa crowd was strictly for the "grown-ups" who belonged to the big band era sound of the '40's. And here was Sam, doin' "Bill Bailey" "The Tennessee Waltz" and "The Best things in Life are Free". Oh sure, he snuck in "You Send Me" and "Sentimental Reasons"(as part of a medley), managed to do a full version of "Twistin' The Night Away" and even dared to bring the folkie protest movement onstage with the then relatively new "Blowin in the Wind" and "If I Had a Hammer", the two most radical numbers of his set for this crowd. But it was clear his show never strayed too far from the supper-club formula of the time. Not that there's anything wrong with that per se. I just always believed that an audience really wants to see an artist do what HE does best. That thing that makes someone special. This was not the Sam Cooke I had envisioned, maybe I was hoping for something that didn't exist. With profound dissappointment, I put the album away and started losing interest in Sam Cooke. Fast foward a few years to the mid 80's and RCA releases something called LIVE AT THE HARLEM CLUB 1963. The words HARLEM CLUB got my attention and stirred my curiosity. Harlem Club 1963 surely meant an all-black audience for those days. I wondered, would this recording reveal the Sam Cooke I always thought existed? Could this be....? I bought the Lp, went home, dropped the needle down and anxiously listened. My jaw dropped and my senses soared. Here he was, IS, soulful, GRITTY, sweatin up a storm, steppin' out of his "Eisenhower" threads, crooning, RASPING his way through songs, HIS songs. Talkin', testifying, workin' the crowd, laughing & joking around like he was the greatest ENTERTAINER that ever was. (The only performer who I had ever seen do this "live" was Bruce Springsteen, who was never a great "singer" but a fantastic performer). But Sam is the whole package. And while you feel like you are there, it's not enough, you WISH that you were there. His voice here is silk and satin mixed with grown-up grit. Those wonderful, sweet G-rated hits now have a new ingredient, and it's a knowing R-rated attitude, no profanity, just a healthy sexual swagger permeating songs not only of the heart and mind, but of the body and soul as well. One of the greatest live albums ever recorded and a true portrait of the artist as a grown-up man. And RCA left this in the vaults for 20 YEARS!!!"
Keep On Having That Party!
David Wayne | Santee, CA United States | 06/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sam Cooke was a legend in the field of Gospel music long before he entered the realms of pop and soul music. He had a voice that was smooth and sweet as honey, but there wasn't the slightest efeminate trait about him. He was all man, and a very handsome one, at that. Women absolutely loved him. He has been referred to as the first sex symbol the church ever had! But he had that voice, and he was a natural songwriter. It turned the world of Gospel on its ear when Sam started recording secular songs. But it was a match made in heaven (or is that Heaven?)! Sam had a style that most anyone could love. He could sing in any key, at any tempo. His breathing and his phrasing were second-to-none. And, if anything, his songwriting improved after he made the switch. The biggest criticism of Cooke's style is that it was too sugar-coated; not gritty enough. Well, listen to this album, recorded on stage when Sam was at the height of his popularity. Sam may have toned down his act on records in order to build a diverse audience. But when on tour, he tore buildings down. At the start of this Miami concert, he won't let the music start until the crowd answers his "How are you doing out there?" with a roar. Then, in seconds, he is right in the groove, urging the fans to "Feel It" and getting them to shout, "Oh, yeah!" The audience is a big part of this performance. They make the uhnns and ahhs during "Chain Gang." When Sam commands them to get out their handkerchiefs during "Twisting The Night Away," you can hear that the crowd is in a frenzy. By the time he segues "You Send Me" into "Bring It On Home To Me," Sam Cooke has every last one of them in the palm of his hand. The finale of "Having A Party" is just wild, with Sam saying he has to go, but exhorting the crowd to "Keep on having that party," even after they get home! It is a wondrous performance. The only live show on record I rate higher than this is James Brown's 1962 live show at The Apollo. And that is really only because this set by Sam is so very short in duration. But it's all good! This recording is exhibit A for those who question why Sam Cooke was known as Mr. Soul. It was Sam Cooke who brought the church together with rhythm and blues and created Soul music. He influenced Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson, Al Green, Bob Marley, and too many others to name... Let's put it this way: there isn't a soul singer who really matters, who WASN'T influenced in some way by Sam Cooke. Of the half-dozen or so singers usually referred to as the greatest, Sam Cooke is the one I find it hardest to argue against. He left us too soon, and for that reason, he is forever young to us. You know that somewhere up in Heaven, Sam Cooke is still having that party!"
Good Heavens, the shadow of god on earth
David Wayne | 12/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"what are you going to say about this, now really? At the end of the day, its going to be apparent that rock and roll was a commercial incarnation of something fundamental in music; and this 1963 recording shows it. Sam is, well, profoundly musical. He'd been singing forever, and that's how he communicates with the world, with women, and with god. . .you can hear it in every perfect note. The transformation of the blues and gospel into soul is an authentic and profound American musical evolutionI have the suspicion that these shows were less improvisational than they sound. . .the guy is such a perfect technician, that even the most emotional and raw moments are probably more calculated than one imagines at firstif you've not yet heard this album then rejoice-- its a reason to live. Guaranteed. The "you send me--bring it on home" could replace a year of Prozac. . .its mood altering in some truly wonderful ways.One of the great CDs-- no one should be without it."
When music is an art . . .
D. Gill | San Gabriel, CA USA | 04/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a musician, I'm not a music critic, but, for me, when an artist manages to convey some essential human quality in a way that could not be expressed with mere words, great art emerges. When I hear Sam Cooke, the world is transformed, great art reveals its power. I am too young to have ever heard him truly live, so this album is compensation. It is gorgeous, haunting, joyful, aching. To be human is to be moved by Sam Cooke's voice. I warn you, however, that it may become rather addictive; listening to this album can send your soul to levels typically only reached in excastacies exclusive to the best of lovers or spiritual nirvanas. THIS just may be the New Jerusalem.After listening to this, try to find a copy of The Man and His Music. No longer in print, it's an amazing collection worth hunting down."
The Best Ever- BAR NONE
Jason P. Weiner | Brooklyn, NY USA | 07/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LIke the other reviewers have already told you. This is the most energetic, soulful, soaring album ever recorded. For once an artist is matched by his audience. The people in the Harlem Square could best be described as the back up singers. This is one of those rare occasions where you can tell there wasn't a bad vibe or disintrested fan in the house. This concert is my first stop if I ever get a time machine and after one listen Im sure I'll see you there."