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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...You Can Make Me Weep...You Can Make Me Cry...", 17 Nov 2011
By 
Mark Barry (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: RCA Albums Collection (Audio CD)
I've had this pre-ordered for months - and when it arrived this morning - I ripped off the shrink rap with an indecent haste. And I'm thrilled to say that Sony/Legacy has done a very tasty job indeed - tracks and albums that are NEW TO CD. And priced at roughly three quid per disc, this wee beauty is also great value for money.

Here are the details: UK released Monday 14 November 2011 - "The RCA Albums Collection" on RCA Records-Sony/Legacy 88697898702 has 8 US albums on 8CDs and breaks down as follows:

1. "Cooke's Tour" - a 12-track LP originally released April 1960 on RCA Victor LSP-2221 (36:59 minutes)
2. "Hits Of The 50's" - a 12-track LP originally released August 1960 on RCA Victor LSP-2236 (33:57 minutes)
3. "Swing Low" - a 12-track LP originally released March 1961 on RCA Victor LSP-2293 (36:31 minutes)
4. "My Kind Of Blues" - a 12-track LP originally released October 1961 on RCA Victor LSP-2392 (32:52 minutes)
5. "Twistin' The Night Away" - a 12-track LP originally released April 1962 on RCA Victor LSP-2555 (29:18 minutes)
6. "Mr. Soul" - a 12-track LP originally released February 1963 on RCA Victor LSP-2673 (36:06 minutes)
7. "Night Beat" - a 12-track LP originally released September 1963 on RCA Victor LSP-2709 (37:45 minutes)
8. "One Night Stand! Live At The Harlem Square Club, 1963" - a 10-track show recorded 12 January 1963, but not released until June 1985 on RCA Victor AFL 1-5181 (38:49 minutes)

I half expected the booklet to be slight and useless, but at 24-pages and with full music credits and discography info on all eight albums - it isn't. There's also a short essay by STUART COLEMAN and great black & white snaps of Sam in the studio. As you can see from the Amazon photo provided above - the outer box is as uninspiring as a bowl of cold mashed potatoes on a Monday morning - but the eight individual card repros contained within are LOVELY - faithfully depicting front and rear sleeves in full colour. Very nicely done. But the big news is the SOUND...

Albums 1 to 6 are remastered by VIC ANESINI with 7 and 8 done by BOB LUDWIG - both highly respected and revered names in the business of transferring old master tapes. The audio quality is 'Living Stereo' BEAUTIFUL - clear, warm and full of great feeling. There's air around each track and yet not overbearingly so - no compression and plenty of room to breath - always a sign of engineers who respect the original sound and source material.

Musically - and despite his legend as the greatest vocalist - it's a mixed bag of the awful and the great. It starts out badly with "Cooke's Tour" where he sings songs about different cities around the world - it's cheesy lounge music and largely unlistenable now. The 2nd album "Hits Of The 50's" is more on the suave Crooner tip but with better material like Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa", The Platters standard "The Great Pretender" and Doris Day's "Secret Love" - Cooke gets to stretch out vocally and his control is so sweet. "Swing Low" features "Chain Gang" and the brassy 4th album "My Kind Of Blues" features "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and the Big Joe Turner classic "Trouble In Mind". He finally starts to hit his Soulful stride with the "Twistin' The Night Away" LP which features "Movin' And A' Groovin'" and the excellent "Somebody Have Mercy". The "Mr. Soul" LP is even better - "Chains Of Love" and "Smoke Rings" are silky smooth and the truly gorgeous "Nothing Can Change This Love" is my all-time favourite by him (lyrics above). The box culminates in two genuine masterpieces - the bluesy "Night Beat" LP which I reviewed a few months back as an 'obscure album you must own' and the posthumously released live set "One Night Stand!" which shows him in magnificent form.

Niggles - as you can see from the skimpy playing times noted above - the discs are not exactly chockers with music. And as fans will know, albums 1 to 7 were originally issued in both MONO and STEREO, yet only the STEREO versions have been used here, when there was room for both. If it's an 'RCA Albums' box set, then issue them as they were originally released (most of it would have been first time on CD too). And because this set focuses on 1960 onwards - if you're looking for his huge Fifties hits like "You Send Me", "Cupid" and "Only Sixteen" - they're not on here. For those you should go to the single compilation "Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964" - which has superlative track choices and glorious SACD sound quality. Or if you want a broader view - the 96-track 4CD Box Set from 2000 called "The Man Who Invented Soul" is the place to go. It was reissued in September 2011 as a mini book version at an incredibly cheap price.

To sum up - this is a lovely reissue - and about time too. OK - it has to be said that a lot of the content on the first 4 discs is hardly 'soulful' in the way we now know it (too many crappy covers and cheesy lounge tunes that haven't dated at all well), but the songs in between the cracks are a nice rediscovery - and the wonderful 4 albums that follow are must owns.

Recommended. And I must grab me a copy of the Nina Simone box set in this series too...

PS: this is one in a series of 'Complete' album box sets - for 16 or 17 more - see a pictorial list I did on Listmania on Amazon UK called "Sony/Legacy "Complete Collection" Box Set Series"
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Soul Man!, 16 Nov 2011
By 
Gary Hanna (Newry, N. Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: RCA Albums Collection (Audio CD)
This box set of Sam Cooke really is outstanding, at last RCA have released the comprehensive set of his recordings. The albums in question being "Cooke's Tour", "Hits of the 50's", "Swing Low", "My kind of blues", "Twisting the night away", "Mr Soul", " Night Beat" & the stunning live album "One night stand".
Ok the first two is RCA's attempt to have Sam as a cross between Nat King Cole & Harry Belafonte but even here his voice although in a different key is quite simply amazing and the novelty of these records are interesting in themselves, where the set really comes into it's own is with the fourth album " My kind of blues" here Sam fully takes control and from then on it just get's better and better, rounding up with the wonderful small band sound of "Night Beat" & the awesome live album " One night stand" two of the greatest soul albums ever pressed. For too long fans have had to settle for compilations and it is just incredible hearing him doing songs I've never heard him do before plus with musicians of the class of "King Curtis", "Billy Preston", "Barney Kessell" and the brilliant piano player "Ray Johnson" the pleasure is endless.
The box-set itself is neat, sturdy and well designed with the replica albums everything you could wish for with even easy to read back covers, plus a booklet with the data and personnel for each album this truly is an amazing price for such a set . Do yourself a favour and listen to the man who invented soul!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Sam Cooke - The RCA Albums Collection", 30 Nov 2011
By 
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This review is from: RCA Albums Collection (Audio CD)
The great Sam Cooke was shot dead at a Los Angeles motel on the 10th of December 1964 under bizarre circumstances aged only 33. On that very day the world of popular song in general, and soul music, in particular, lost one of the most remarkable and tuneful voices ever to be committed to wax. This extensive collection clearly demonstrates the vocal prowess of the late singer. The most ardent Some Cooke fans might frown upon some of the more or less heavily orchestrated albums largely featuring standards of the 50s, but his readings are first rate, infusing each song with infinite sensibility, and Glen Osser's arrangements fit Mr. Cooke's ethereal vocals perfectly. It is, however, important to bear in mind that RCA after signing Mr. Cooke, wanted to steer his career towards more MOR-oriented pop.
Hard-core Sam Cooke fans will probably prefer his live album on which some of his biggest hits are given an electrifying performance, and the LPs "Mr. Soul" , "Twistin' The Night Away", "Nightbeat" and the stirring "My Kind of Blues", all of which are more in the soul vein. To me, depending on the mood you're in, each album is equally enjoyable, and the overall sound is simply astounding.
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5.0 out of 5 stars about time this was released, 27 Feb 2013
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This review is from: RCA Albums Collection (Audio CD)
the best of sam cooke plus great bonus tracks
should have been issued before
good booklet with the right information
tony
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Sublime collection of one of the Best 8 male voices ever", 24 Feb 2012
By 
D'ASTE FRANCO "Franco" (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: RCA Albums Collection (Audio CD)
This collection is incredible: Sam's "voice and soul" are out of discussion and comparison but here also the quality of the remastering is simply outstanding. Wonderfull sound: 100% full,deep,wide,clean STEREO wich allows Sam's sublime voice to expand like in a big bang. Not to believe if we consider when these songs were recorded (very end 50's early 60's)they sound better than a lot of records made... yesterday. All eight CD's are outstanding but for me "Hits of the 50's" remains the gem (if interested you can read my review at Amazon.com, now also at GB) must say that the quality of the remastering of this CD contained in the collection is better than the already very good one of the single.
If you are a fan of Sam Cooke you absolutely cannot miss these eight beauties, if you are not...you will become one.
Ciao,
Franco
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