Friday, December 17, 2010

Sam Cooke: The Ultimate Two-CD Chronological Discography of His Best 55 Songs

Arguably the founder of soul music, and, for my money, possessed of the most incredible male voice (and style and technique) in all of popular music, Sam Cooke (1931-1964) was also a fabulous songwriter. I saw the house where he grew up, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in my "musical pilgrimage" to the Mississippi Delta in the spring of 2009.

My goal was to put together the very best collection of his songs (29 of them) on one CD (he wrote all but one), and the best songs of the rest of his amazing catalogue on a second CD (he wrote 42 out of the 55 total songs). The dates are from the time of recording and the Billboard pop chart highest position is listed for Top 40 singles. See also my related post, "Sam Cooke: The Greatest Singer of All Time: Chronological Discography."

Very Best of Sam Cooke

1. Touch the Hem of His Garment + [mono] 2-2-56
2. I'll Come Running Back to You + [mono] 8-21-56, #18, x
3. That's All I Need to Know ^[mono] 12-12-56
4. You Send Me + [mono] 6-1-57, #1
5. Only Sixteen + 1-4-59, #28
6. (What a) Wonderful World + [mono] 3-2-59, #12
7. Just For You + [mono] 7-24-59
8. Chain Gang + 1-25-60, #2
9. Sad Mood + 10-1-60, #29
10. Tenderness * 10-1-60
11. Cupid + 4-14-61, #17
12. It's All Right * 8-9-61
13. Twistin' the Night Away + 12-18-61, #9
14. Somebody Have Mercy * 2-15-62
15. Soothe Me * 2-19-62
16. Bring It On Home to Me + [mono] 4-26-62, #13
17. Having a Party + 4-26-62, #17
18. Nothing Can Change This Love + 8-23-62, #12
19. Laughin' and Clownin' * 2-22-63
20. Mean Old World * 2-23-63
21. Another Saturday Night + 2-28-63, #10
22. Love Will Find a Way * 2-28-63
23. That's Where It's At + 8-20-63
24. A Change is Gonna Come + 12-21-63, #31
25. Meet Me At Mary's Place + 1-28-64
26. Rome Wasn't Built in a Day > 1-28-64
27. Good Times + 2-2-64, #11
28. (Somebody) Ease My Troublin' Mind > 4-9-64
29. Shake + 11-16-64, #7

Total Time: 78:32

Album Sources

+ = Portrait of a Legend (1951-1964) [2003, 320 kbps]
* = The Man Who Invented Soul [Box Set, 2000, 320 kbps]
> = Keep Movin' On [2001, 224 kbps (I, #26, II, #26), 192 kbps (I, #28, II, #8, #9, #25)
^ = Sam Cooke With the Soul Stirrers: The Complete Specialty Records Recordings [Box Set, 2002, 192 kbps]

x = not written by Sam Cooke

Best of Sam Cooke, Vol. 2

1. Lovable + [mono] 12-12-56
2. That's Heaven to Me ^ [mono] 4-19-57
3. Win Your Love For Me + [mono] 6-6-57, #33
4. For Sentimental Reasons + [mono] 8-23-57, x
5. Lets Go Steady Again * 12-58, x
6. With You * [mono] 1958
7. Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha + 1-7-59, #31
8. Try a Little Love > 2-59
9. When a Boy Falls in Love > 2-59
10. Teenage Sonata * 1-28-60, x
11. Baby Won't You Please Come Home * 5-19-61, x
12. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out * 5-19-61, x
13. Trouble in Mind * 5-19-61, x
14. Out in the Cold Again * 5-20-61, x
15. You're Always on My Mind * 5-19-61
16. Frankie and Johnny * 8-9-61, #14, x
17. One More Time * 12-19-61
18. I'm Gonna Forget About You * 8-23-62
19. Cry Me a River * 12-16-62, x
20. These Foolish Things * 12-16-62, x
21. (Don't Fight It) Feel It [Live] * 1-12-63
22. Nothing Can Change This Love [Live] * 1-12-63
23. Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen * 2-23-63, x
24. Ain't That Good News + 12-20-63, #11
25. Keep Movin' On > 12-21-63
26. Falling in Love > 1-30-64, x

Total Time: 74:03


Sam's Neph said...

A great list, no doubt. In my book, I note that Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra were bigger stars in Sam's day, but ask the question "how many of their songs did they write?" Listing all of his self-penned hits as you did helps to put his genius into perspective.

Erik Greene

Dave Armstrong said...

Delighted to hear from you, Erik! It's an honor to "meet" you. I agree; I think much more highly of singer-songwriters because it is the whole package. They can more fully develop their style with their own songs: it gives them a delightful unity.

I may very well buy your book (kudos to you for writing it). I like music bios and recently read biographies of Brian Wilson, John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, and Hank Williams.

I'm especially interested in the alternate theory of what happened at your great uncle's tragic death.

My wife Judy loves Sam Cooke as much as I do. She said the other day, "now that is smooooooth!" It sure is. I don't think anyone can match him in his own genre. I would place Marvin Gaye next, but it is a far second.

Sam's Neph said...

Interesting list of recently-read bios too, Dave, especially since most of them have a link to Sam. I can't speak for Hank Williams, but John Lennon and the Beatles held Sam in highest regard (Allen Klein was able to sell himself to the group because he had been Sam's manager), and Marvin Gaye declined an opportunity to portray Sam on the silver screen, claiming he wasn't worthy of the honor. After Sam's death, Brian Wilson ended up with Sam's 1965 Ferrari.

Dave Armstrong said...

Fascinating stuff! I also need to read a book about Motown, being a Detroit native (we're very proud of all that).

I decided to purchase your book. My mother wanted me to choose a book or album for my Christmas present from her, and I decided to make it your book. I eagerly look forward to it.

I imagine that you might also discuss in your book Al Green and Rod Stewart as having been profoundly influenced by Sam Cooke. A few of the latter's songs sound so much like him it is uncanny: the phrasing, the overall feel, and quality of his voice.

Sam's Neph said...

Thanks, Dave! Make sure you include mom's name so I can autograph it to her personally. Feel free to check out some of my reviews on as well.

Actually, I note Sam's influence on both Al Green and Rod Stewart in the latter pages of the book. One of my most cherished responses was an e-mail from Rod Stewart himself after reading "Our Uncle Sam," in which he passed on this gem: there hasn't been a concert in the last 30 years he hasn't sung at least one song by Sam. Needless to say, it warmed my heart to hear that.

Dave Armstrong said...

Fabulous. The book is to me, though. It's my mother's gift to me; she just is letting me pick out my own gift: like a gift card.

I was curious: what is your favorite song of his? Mine is Good Times followed closely by Bring It On Home To Me. I also love the whole arrangement of Having a Party: how it swings, with that great slower, Memphis-like tempo, and the cool bass line.

Sam's Neph said...

Some of my faves include Bring It On Home to Me, Summertime, Moonlight in Vermont, and Trouble Blues on the pop side. On the gospel side I like Jesus, Wash Away My Troubles, Lord, Remember Me, Just Another Day, and I'm So Glad (Trouble Don't Last Always).