Black America Sings Sam Cooke: Bring It On Home

11th February 2016

Title: Black America Sings Sam Cooke

Label: Ace

Sam Cooke may have been a great singer but he was also an accomplished song-writer. In fact, of the 35 hits that he had between 1957 and 1965, 25 of those were written by him. That’s not even including his B-sides. He also helped many a struggling artist, offering his songs to others (in addition to the aid he provided via his publishing and record companies).

It’s the latter that this CD concentrates upon. That is, artists who have sung Cooke songs. Hence, the 24 included tracks include songs from the likes of Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Johnny Nash, Bobby Womack and Lou Rawls. Not a bad collection of singing greats.

When Cooke showed You Send Me to Speciality’s boss, Art Rupe, Rupe became so animated in his dislike of the song that he tore up Cooke’s contract there and then, kicking both him and Cooke’s arranger, Bumps Blackwell out of his office. Well, at least it got a reaction.

Cooke popped over to the small label, Keen and proceeded to have a major R&B and pop hit with the song. Sledge took up the reigns and re-recorded it at Muscle Shoals’ studios giving it a slightly slower and lower rendition that was the essence of studied Southern soul.

Shake was recorded by Otis Redding just a month before he died. Redding loved Cooke’s work and tried to record at least one of his songs in every LP. Shake became his first posthumous single, reaching No 2 in the R&B charts and No 7 in the pop charts, although its the Redding live 1967 version that is best known.

Bobby Womack’s rendition of the obscure I’m Gonna Forget About You is interesting because Womack had been promoted a lot by Cooke. Both men became firm friends during that time. This song was recorded as part of Womack’s My Prescription album and became the subject of a partial re-write with an added chorus but Womack, out of respect to Cooke, refused to add a song-writing credit to the song.

This CD is full of interesting songs and stories like that. An essential addition to any Cooke fan.