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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden tenor of "Soul" re-born...
This release is another of the outstanding archive renovations that brought the world "The Rolling Stones" re-issues in 2002.
Yet again the same team that brought the world that restoration has done this compliation of "Sam Cooke's" recordings from 1951-1964.
The mastering process was done by the awesome "Bob Ludwig",who has in the past done such re-issues as...
Published on 2 Dec 2003 by Milt M. R. Ingarfield

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14 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Warts and All
Sam Cooke's voice is still unrivalled-simple fact!
He didn't invent soul, but he had a major part in its' rise and was one of the first black artists to sell across the race divide-more facts.
Unfortunately, like everyone else, he had great days, good days, OK days and bad days. That extended to the recording studio, and this compilation faithfully echoes the...
Published on 2 Aug 2005 by The BlackFerret


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Golden tenor of "Soul" re-born..., 2 Dec 2003
This release is another of the outstanding archive renovations that brought the world "The Rolling Stones" re-issues in 2002.
Yet again the same team that brought the world that restoration has done this compliation of "Sam Cooke's" recordings from 1951-1964.
The mastering process was done by the awesome "Bob Ludwig",who has in the past done such re-issues as "Roxy Muisc's" and the solo recordings of "Bryan Ferry"(this "Mr Ludwig" did in 1999).
What they have released is a hybrid disc that has 2 layers of data,1 layer for playing on a standard C.D. player and the other layer for SACD players.
The sound quality that this has acheived is just jaw dropping it's so good, gone is the thin weedy sound of the past re-issues of this star's music,now the tracks have a warmer purer seductive sound that "Sam" voice was famous for.
The tracks sound like they were recorded just yesterday and not way back last century.
The song that opens the collection "Touch the hem of his Garment" recorded in 1956 and was written by the artist sets the tone for this anthology of 30 tracks, 24 of which "Sam" wrote "Twistin' the night Away" still makes me want to get up and dance every time I hear it, even more so with the clearer handclap sounds.
If you loved the sound of "Sam Cooke" before you will absolutely adore this collection, the details the listener can hear are incredible.
This collection is for soul fans everywhere,a must have for your music collection...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loveable!, 29 July 2005
By 
R. K. Harvey "harvey_rebecca" (Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Portrait Of A Legend (Audio CD)
This Cd has a fantastic collection of songs and it shows how beautiful Sam Cookes voice was. In case you don't know, Sam Cooke was a Gospel singer, who broke away from recording just gospel songs and began moving in to popular songs, but Cooke never lost that Gospel feel. My favorite songs on this cd are Loveable, Chain gang and A change is gonna come.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sam on SACD......, 22 Dec 2003
Well, “What a wonderful World” was one of those records from my youth, a great tune re-released thanks to a famous TV advert! Even so, this is an incredibly powerful set of recordings, Sam Cooke had one of those incredibly powerful voices, and his premature death was a sad loss. Don’t think that this latest compilation will convert many new Sam Cooke fans, but it should, this guy has real presence.
As for the SACD bit, a clear improvement over CD, but with historic material like this, the advantages are not enormous, but still quite clear. Super Audio CD does not get promoted as heavily as it should be.. a definite sound quality improvement.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You Send Me...., 13 Jun 2007
This review is from: Portrait Of A Legend (Audio CD)
This man is a gold-plated soul legend, who was also savvy enough to set up his own label and nurture other black recording artists, such as Bobby Womack. Initially a gospel superstar, he, like many before and after, successfully crossed over into the fledgling pop charts, merging gospel and pop and becoming huge.

His voice is surely one of the most beautiful ever committed to vinyl. This collection does a fantastic job of summarising Cooke's tragically curtailed career, and for newcomer and fan alike, is the best collection out there.

As a footnote, I must add to the debate on 'A Change Is Gonna Come', Cooke's response to hearing Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind' and an example of his interest in other genres. I am a massive Otis Redding fan, but his version is a poor relation to Sam's effort - this is his last recorded song and his finest few minutes, a tantalising hint of what he may acheived had he not been gunned down.

Buy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Legend!, 21 Aug 2007
This review is from: Portrait Of A Legend (Audio CD)
I first tried a Sam Cooke album about a year ago and was surprised that I already knew the vast majority of the songs. Again and again I found myself listening to a particular track and before ten seconds had past I'd be thinking 'Wow, I didn't know he wrote that one!'. I'd heard a number of versions of 'Chain Gang' for instance but never Cooke's original which incidentally is by far the best.

The man's vocal range and talent is just awesome as he demonstrates on 'Touch The Hem Of His Garment' in an early gospel record. But songs like 'You Send Me', 'Only Sixteen', 'Cupid', '(What A) Wonderful World', 'Chain Gang', 'Twistin' The Night Away' and of course the masterful 'A Change Is Gonna Come' (Cooke's response to Bob Dylan's 'Blowin in the Wind') show what a truly great song writer he was as well as a singer.

Who knows what he might have achieved had he lived longer!. Altogether this is an excellent collection of songs that are well worth getting hold of.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where it all began, 26 Sep 2006
By 
Andrew Fawcett (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Portrait Of A Legend (Audio CD)
Sorry to correct the previous reviewer, but Sam Cooke's 'Wonderful World, was emphaticaly NOT the same song made famous by Louis Armstrong. This was called 'What a Wonderful World, and was a very different proposition from Sam's offering. As for Herman's Hermits......

Soul fans wil know that the best cover version of this tune was the one by Otis Redding. In fact, Otis covered many of Cooke's songs , including 'Shake' and a 'Change is Gonna Come'( the latter arguably topping even Sam's version)

Anyway, factual quibbles apart, this CD documents an important slice of Sam Cooke's output.He was, unquestionably one of the most influential singers ever, and not just in the soul field. Rod Stewart fans will find Sam's vocal fingerprints all over his singing. Sam Cooke's early death was was not only a tragedy for music lovers, just think, if he had lived we might have been spared Rod Stewart.Now there's a thought.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer genius brilliantly presented, 9 Oct 2004
By 
Siriam (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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No less a person than Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records (who twice failed to sign him) describes Sam in the accompanying booklet as "the best singer who ever lived" and what this collection does in excellent SACD sound is show why. Covering the whole range of his career from his early spiritual recordings in 1951 with the Soul Stirrers, via his Speciality label records (where he fell out with Art Rupe the owner for using a "white" rather than an R&B sound) through to his triumphant personally written and co-produced RCA recordings and resultant great hits which appealed to everyone, one can see why someone like Rod Stewart holds this man in such high esteem.
In addition to the superb CD audio transcriptions lasting over 79 minutes in full, the liner booklet notes by a devoted expert such as Peter Guralnick with full data on recordings and musicians make this a priceless collection.
Fourty years on since his early death the CD title "Sam Cooke -Portrait of a legend" says it all.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pioneer of soul music, 5 Nov 2004
By 
Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
Whether Sam really was the first soul singer as some people claim, I'm not sure, though he has a strong claim to the title. In any event, this is an excellent collection of his music.
Sam made his breakthrough with You send me, which went all the way to number one in America (where it sold a couple of million) though it barely made the top thirty in Britain. In the fifties, when music was often racially segregated, this was quite an achievement. Sam was well aware of the problems, as is clear from his song, A change is gonna come. The change did come (to some extent, at least) though Sam, murdered aged just 33, did not live to see it.
Another important American hit, Only sixteen, fared slightly better than You send me in the UK despite being covered by Craig Douglas who took the song to the very top of the UK charts. Sam's version of Wonderful world, another huge American hit, again only registered in the UK top thirty at the time of its original release, though Brits grew to love this song, with Louis Armstrong and Herman's Hermits both having big hits in the sixties. Sam's version made number two in the UK when re-issued in 1986.
Sam finally achieved success in the UK when Chain gang, Cupid and Twisting the night away all made the top ten. Only two more UK hits followed - Another Saturday night (which Cat Stevens covered in the seventies) and Frankie and Johnny (not included here), both of which made the top thirty. However, Sam had many more (and bigger) hits in his homeland, where his music was better appreciated. There are many other great songs here, too numerous to mention.
This is a better compilation than the earlier one titled The man and his music, featuring more tracks, extensive liner notes and even better sound quality. Many of the songs are the same but there are a few differences, although all the essentials are on both collections.
If you enjoy Sam's music, this is the best compilation yet released. If you are new to his music, you are in for a real treat if you buy this. Sam's role in the development of soul music cannot be over-estimated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the best of Sam Cooke: one of the few true legends of 20th century popular music, 14 July 2011
By 
The Guardian (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Portrait Of A Legend (Audio CD)
Like the jazz trumpet legend Lee Morgan, Sam Cooke had the rare distinction of being shot dead by a woman; in Cooke's case in 1964 by the manager of a hotel he was staying in following an altercation, like Morgan at age 33. So died one of the greatest, most expressive and naturally articulate singing voices ever committed to vinyl and a fine popular songwriter to boot.

Cooke's influence stretched far beyond his time; his more famous compositions have been endlessly covered by artists through the decades but rarely equal Cooke's pure, legendary originals.

Cooke is often seen as `the father of soul' or as `the first true soul singer' in that he used the heartfelt and expressive gospel style with which he had grown up in church to great effect in his popular songs with non-religious themes aimed at the mass market.

When Cooke was recording there really was no such thing as an `album artist', as every song up till the mid-sixties was crafted to be played on the radio and sell as a 45rpm disk. `Portrait of a Legend' is the best compilation of the bunch. It features 31 of his greatest songs (and this is only a sample of his compositional output by the time he was 33) including `You Send Me' (subsequently covered by everyone from Steve Miller to Eddi Reader), `Only Sixteen', `Everybody Loves to Cha-Cha-Cha', `I'll Come Running Back', `Bring It on Home to Me' (later made famous by Van Morrison), `Twistin' the Night Away' and his civil-rights themed `A Change is Gonna Come' allegedly inspired by Bob Dylan's `Blowin' in the Wind', and so much more.

Sound quality is good from these (sometimes 50 year-old) master tapes: crisp, clear, sharp, deep and with fine balance. Some reviewers have gripes about the quality of the SACD but the CD quality is great and these 31 numbers together form a collective body of work fitting to one of the very few 20th century singer/composers who genuinely deserve the otherwise over-used term `Legend.'
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best soul singer, 26 Mar 2008
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This review is from: Portrait Of A Legend (Audio CD)
Sam Cooke was a musical genius. As a performer, singer and songwriter he excelled and surpassed all his competitors. This essential compilation (Only When a boy falls in love is missing among these best songs) shows his development, his growing from gospel and pop gems to A change is gonna come, one of the best songs in history. His style of singing is so awesome it may take a few listening to realize in full, because it's done with such ease that is almost a miracle. His effortless melisma, his golden tone, his "feeling" (after all, that's what soul music is about) are haunting, as so many singers who try (in vain) to match it, even in our days, show. More than 40 years after his death, songs like You send me, Chain gang, Wonderful world (I fell in love with it thanks to "Witness", of course), Cupid (And with this one thanks to "Innerspace"), and of course A change is gonna come still sound fresh and gloriously beautiful. Only if you have all the songs of this set already you shouldn't buy the CD. For the rest of the world, there are no excuses to miss it.
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