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Live At The Harlem Square Club

Sam Cooke

1963

Live At The Harlem Square Club

Album Summary

Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 is the second live album by the American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke. The album was recorded at the Harlem Square Club in Miami and released on June 1985 in the United States by RCA Records. Initially recorded on January 12, 1963, to be released as a live album entitled One Night Stand, the concert album was not released until 1985. RCA Victor, at the time, viewed the album as too gritty and raw and possibly damaging to his pop image, and quietly kept the recordings in their archive. The album is generally considered among the best live albums by contemporary music critics, and has been ranked in "best-of" music lists, including on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Three mixes of the record exist: the 1985 issue, a version included on the 2000 box set The Man Who Invented Soul, and a 2005 remaster from RCA.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.77

Votes

6388

Genres

  • Soul
Reviews
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Thu Feb 24 2022
5

My favorite moment on the album happens during "Somebody Have Mercy" towards the end when Swingin' Sam wails about how there's something wrong with him. "It ain't that leukemia," Sam answers. "That ain't it." This album never fails to put me in a great mood. It's just an all-around joy, and Sam Cooke is having such a good time that he encourages everyone in the audience (and by association, everyone listening) to keep the party going well beyond the final song. When the pandemic started all the way back in March, 2020 and it became obvious we were all going to spend an extended amount of time quarantining, I bought digital copies of this album and Sam Cooke at the Copa. It's not an exaggeration to say both albums got me through that first part of the pandemic. I longed to be at those performances with people singing every word and having the time of their lives. God bless the late Sam Cooke. Dude found a way to enthrall listeners who weren't even born - hell, people who wouldn't even be a dirty thought for decades to come - when he played the Harlem Square Club. That's the mark of a true legend.

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Tue Feb 23 2021
5

Totally electrifying live performance, raw and raucous but still note-perfect — breathes new life into songs I've heard to the point of fatigue

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Tue Apr 20 2021
3

Good goddamn, I wanns be in that room, sloppy drunk, right next to the sax player. Josh may not be a live album guy but I'm hoping if there's any album that can convince, it's this one. Or maybe Cornell 77. I love that live albums recorded back in the mid 60s didn't isolate the music from the audience. Soundboard recordings sound great and clean but miss the whole premise of a performance for an audience, and this one is rowdy as hell. All I could wish is that his songs were a little more varied than the pop doowoppy swing stuff and this could be one of the best live albums around. B

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Thu May 27 2021
5

This is the album that convinced me that I like live albums. Breakneck pace, just an absolute amazing, iconic performance

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Fri Jul 16 2021
5

This was fantastic. Sam Cooke has an incredible voice - so much soul and feeling going into every song. Well worth multiple listens.

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Fri Jun 25 2021
5

I can only imagine how great he was live. Would have loved to see him

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Sun May 16 2021
5

First time listening: 10/10 songs liked I rarely save live songs, so this won't add to my gigantic list, HOWEVER. I will save this album as a consideration to listen to constantly, because it's a beautiful treat to behold. The raw energy of sam cooke and the crowd play together so well. No songs saved

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

Favs: Cupid, Twistin' the Night Away, Bring It On Home to Me, Having a Party, Chain Gang Mehs: Medley: It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons I'm usually not much for live albums, but the energy of the crowd here and his crowd-work makes this one incredible (crowd-work is especially fun on "Chain Gang," a song my mom used to sing all the time). “Having a Party” and “Cupid” just make you feel good. Cooke's raw but smooth voice is a favorite. I always sit and feel impressed that this is his voice live. Great soul; great sax.

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Sat Sep 04 2021
5

Wow. Familiar with many of Sam Cooke's songs, but not with this album. Love the grittiness and power, plus it's easy to hear how incredible he was as a performer. I read the Wikipedia entry on the album and then the one on Sam Cooke. Fascinating and tragic personal story. Back to this album: can absolutely hear why this album is consistently high up on so many lists. Can absolutely hear how his sound influenced countless artists who followed.

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Sat Mar 20 2021
3

I like the small amount of Sam Cooke I've listened to (like on anthology collection, and my wife blasting "A Change is Gonna Come"). However, I hate live albums so not really the target audience for this. It sounds like it was on hell of a night. Sam gives it a raucous soul feel. Lots of hyping up the audience and getting everyone dancing. I can see the value of the release, since you don't hear this energetic, unrestrained style of singing on his studio material. Also interesting back story (recorded in 1960s, shelved until 1980s for not being friendly enough for white customers). I still don't really see the appeal of sitting around listening to a recording of a concert. And soul is not a genre that particularly does it for me.

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Mon Jan 03 2022
5

Holy shit. I have been sleeping on Sam Cooke. This album is so amazing, definitely one of the best live albums I've ever heard in my life. If not the very best. His vocal quality, his interactions with the crowd...what a gifted performer. The magnetism shines through so well that it feels like you're there even without a visual. Amazing. Definitely would re-listen to the entire setlist.

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Tue Feb 15 2022
5

I know Sam Cooke but had never heard any live recordings. This is an absolute belter. An amazing band and his voice is sixties soul perfection. Had to play this twice as didn’t fully focus the first time and wanted to make sure it really was that good. This is how music should be - full of energy, emotion and refined talent let loose on great tunes. Loved it.

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Fri Jun 25 2021
4

It started pretty decent, but every subsequent song got better and better, culminating with an amazing live version of Bring it On Home. Close to a 5, but a few "live album-isms" hold it back.

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Mon Jun 14 2021
4

I didn't expect this to be this fucking awesome. Chain Gang is a real banger. I'm very impressed with this.

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Mon Aug 09 2021
1

“Live at the Harlem Square Club” by Sam Cooke (recorded in 1963, released in 1985) Sam Cooke was great. He is rightly called the “King of Soul”. Now here’s an album that, to be generous, gets beneath the manicured artificiality of studio production and provides a raw, free expression of live performance. But it still has the weaknesses of all live recordings, which are considerable. So as an album, it fails on a fundamental level. Nevertheless it does offer a glimpse of something beautiful. “Live at the Harlem Square Club”, as a collection of songs, serves as a partial answer to the question “Why is soul music called ‘soul’ music?” Cooke’s songs are soulful, which is to say they magnify the passions. Each song is focused on a particular feeling, without the distracting consideration of counter-feelings, equivocations, internal contradictions, rational coherence, or systematic analysis. Hence they do not prompt deep or complex thought. Most frequently, they avoid treating of the feelings of others as well, so while they are intense, they are conceptually simple. But most importantly, they lay bare the passions. “Don’t fight it, we gonna feel it.” In other words, don’t let the mind or the will get in the way of the emotions. The lyrics of these songs provide a discursive foundation for a wonderful musical elaboration that evokes feelings in the listener. The best expression of this may be found in the second track, “Feel it (Don’t Fight It)”. He knows exactly what he’s doing. Sometimes there is a bit of a mismatch here, like Cooke’s verbal intro to “Chain Gang”, which he says is “designed to make you feel good”. I’m sorry, Sam, but a song about men sentenced to hard labor doesn’t exactly make me feel good. Rather, it makes me feel sympathetic, and perhaps angry at the possible racial inequities and other potential injustices. I’m not particularly enthusiastic about the virtues of ‘re-education through labor’, as practiced in Stalin’s gulags, Mao’s laogai, or American chain gangs. This is not to say that virtues cannot be found and cultivated in these contexts. But that’s not the first thing that comes to mind (or soul). If I had been present at the live concert, I would have been reluctant to join in the festive “Hoh ah, hoh ah”, as Cooke encouraged the audience. Solzhenitsyn was rarely in a festive mood. Musically, these tracks are far, far inferior to their studio versions. It’s painful to listen to “Cupid” or "(I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons". This inferior quality is not merely a function of the unavoidable limitations of recording in a live setting. It is also reflected in the vocal and instrumental flubs (and the seriously out of tune guitar and saxophone) which cannot be corrected through dubbing or ‘one more take’. The key feature of live performance is live presence. You can’t (yet, anyway) capture that on a recording. [I recently watched a virtual attempt at this with a mini-concert event by Ariana Grande on the interactive online video game Fortnite. It was, to say the least, disappointing.] Cooke’s jabbering between (and even during!) songs pitifully begging the crowd to get more ‘into it’ is embarrassing. But even worse is his ad lib (at 2:53 on “Somebody Have Mercy”): “Somebody have mercy and tell me what is wrong with me (I ain’t got leukemia, Hah-hah).” There’s a reason why RCA Victor kept these tapes in the can for 22 years. I’m sure the 1963 audience got the feeling. But I wasn’t there. 1/5

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Tue Mar 30 2021
5

Better than I expected. Has a really enjoyable mood.

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Wed Feb 24 2021
5

Love it, would buy.

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Thu Mar 25 2021
5

So fun, so catchy. Sam Cooke is wonderful.

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Mon Feb 22 2021
5

Brilliant exactly what you would expect

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Wed Mar 03 2021
5

Oh hell yes. Best soul singer of all time.

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Fri Mar 12 2021
5

Now I'm getting this whole including live albums list, this one is amazing.

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Thu Apr 29 2021
5

I'm soul. This is soul. This is life

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

I love this album. 10

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Fri Jun 25 2021
5

A gold standard for live records. Soulful, fun, and the energy between Sam, the band, and the crowd is out of this world.

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

i like live albums and this rocks, 10

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Tue Jun 22 2021
5

just an amazing live album. would be a 9/10 so 5 stars from me. bring it on home to me *adore*

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Tue Feb 23 2021
5

Fucking love Sam Cooke.

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Thu Apr 08 2021
5

Excellent

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Tue Jun 01 2021
5

This album is so good. I put it on and it was over before I even realized it. This thing really moves!

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Fri Feb 12 2021
5

Loved this album also listened to more of his stuff and have listened to a lot more Sam Cooke than had previously thought.

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Fri May 28 2021
5

One of my favorite live records ever. Sam’s got the audience in the palm of his hand.

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Mon Mar 01 2021
5

Loved this, would like the LP. Really upbeat, make you smile kind of music. Yay!

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Wed Jul 07 2021
5

Лайв, по качеству исполнения подобный студийнику. Не будь звуков толпы - даже в студийноси бы не засомневался особо. Хотя, помнится, кто-то промышлял тем, что поверх сырых студийных записей просто звуки толпы накладывал. Но да не суть. Слышно, что Сэм Кук просто горит тем, что делает. Ни один трек не перетягивает одеяло на себя, и ни один выкинуть не хочется. А сам Сэм своими партиями будто стремится взять за яйца каждого посетителя клуба. Этот подход же из баптистских хоров пошёл, где через душевную энергетику существует стремление показать на чувственном уровне, что бох есть. И ведь негатива не вызывает, честный приём же. Когда веруны в качестве аргументации приводят существование "духовных переживаний", "особого опыта", что не доступны неверунам, хочется сказать что-то типа "Йоу, пацаны, го слэм". Сама суть искусства ведь восполнять все потребности внутреннего мира. Тут мы имеем, что мощный кусок верунской культуры откололся от своей основы и стал частью культуры общей, разумистической. Ну утратив при этом своего созидательного начала. И это очень хорошо.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
5

Only 8 years in the business. This album is raw and his showmanship skills are evident the way he interacts with the crowd. Love this album.

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Mon May 31 2021
5

Hoo boy, I'm not the biggest fan of live albums but I'll listen cuz it's on the list. Actually ya know what, this is good so far. I'm into it. This is just the first song. This was a fun album and it perked me up while listening since I've been stressed today. That deserves a 5.

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Mon May 03 2021
5

Amazing album, truly. I felt the animation of the atmosphere as well as the late Sam Cooke. Emotional really

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Tue Jul 13 2021
5

Great. Awesome live album. Bring it on Home is the highlight for me.

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Fri Jul 02 2021
5

felt like being there! what a party!

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Sun Jul 25 2021
5

Loved it.

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Mon Aug 02 2021
5

bastante energico

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Tue Aug 17 2021
5

Favorite Tracks: Chain Gang Cupid Twistin' the Night Away

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Thu Aug 26 2021
5

Amazing soulful voice.

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Sun Sep 05 2021
5

Sounds like the best party ever

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Wed Sep 08 2021
5

Jazz. Great concert vibes.

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Tue Sep 14 2021
5

Pedazo de directo. Un torbellino de soul sin descanso...

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Tue Sep 28 2021
5

Loved listening to this and feeling like I'd been transported to Harlem in the 60's. His voice sounds even better live.

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Fri Oct 01 2021
5

Gospel, soul and pop mixed together in an intimate sounding live album. Great stuff

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Sat Oct 23 2021
5

Incredible album. Such a fun performance.

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Tue Oct 26 2021
5

Rating: 10/10

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Tue Nov 02 2021
5

This energetic show features heavy Chubby Checkers and Isley Brothers influences along with 1950's soul and R&B in general. Sam Cooke's delivery is incredibly charismatic. One of the great joys of this performance is just how much fun Cooke and his audience are having. It sounds like an absolute frenzy. Cooke's voice seemingly does not tire. It is truly a remarkable performance.

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Fri Nov 05 2021
5

Really fun album. Looking forward to listening to this again.

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Wed Nov 10 2021
5

Enjoyed it. Fun performance and like the live crowd environment. That sax was great.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

Amazing albums from a legend

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Thu Nov 11 2021
5

Over a decade ago i downloaded a live version of Bring It On Home To Me from a livejournal community. I never knew the source. Today i found it!

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

This album is fire! 🔥🔥🔥

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

tasty jazz

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Fri Nov 19 2021
5

Great discovery. 5/5

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Sat Nov 27 2021
5

Tellement bon, un plaisir fou a ecouter cela. Ca vaut le detour et une reecoute. Un super artiste et album et d’habitude je n’aime pas top le live en audio. 5*

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Sat Dec 04 2021
5

One of the great live albums of all time - and yet they sat on it for 20 years before releasing it?!? Madness. What a voice, what a man, what an album. I'd have given everything to be in the audience. Bliss.

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Wed Dec 22 2021
5

Amazingly good. So much energy and spontaneous live feel but also polished and delivered with pinpoint accuracy.

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Fri Dec 31 2021
5

A tour de force from one of the greatest male vocalists of all time.

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Thu Jan 06 2022
5

How have I not heard this album before. Feel It is a banger. Excellent setlist. Very danceable.

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Sat Jan 08 2022
5

4.5/5. Very raw performance, lot of energy. Very very good.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

'Course I Feel the Feelin

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Thu Jan 13 2022
5

Great fun, some nice classic rock and roll

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Thu Jan 20 2022
5

The king of R&B, killing it throughout the entire album. Brilliant, and perhaps the best live album I've ever heard.

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Sat Jan 22 2022
5

soulful genius, swinging and raising the roof

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Sat Jan 22 2022
5

Absolute heaven. Imagine being there that night.

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Fri Jan 28 2022
5

Absolute classic

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Thu Feb 03 2022
5

Just smooth and fun to listen to

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Fri Feb 04 2022
5

Songs had me up grooving

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Tue Feb 08 2022
5

Best Sunday morning.

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Wed Feb 09 2022
5

fucking swinging

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Fri Feb 11 2022
5

muito bom

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Mon Feb 14 2022
5

It’s Sam Cook. It’s got to be great.

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Tue Feb 15 2022
5

Raw and tight - the live versions are far superior to the studio recordings. What a voice. You feel that Sam was constrained on record.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
5

Growing up my parents had several Sam Cooke records that I used to commandeer and play on my record player (I think manufactured by Fisher Price). I was singing along to “Chain Gang,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ The Night Away” and “Having a Party” from a very early age. I was very excited to have this live album come up, and after listening I’m not disappointed! Sam Cooke is incredible and this is one hell of a One Night Stand. It’s a grittier performance than his studio albums that really surprised me - an amazing performance in front of a really exciting, raucous audience! Besides wishing it was longer (where is “You Send Me” - there’s just that tease at the end of track 7 - and “Another Saturday Night”?) I loved every minute of this.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
5

This was just great. Soulful and energetic. One of the best.

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Tue Feb 22 2022
5

This one was a great listen. I had fun and Sam Cooke's vocals were right on the mark! I have my handkerchief ready!

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Tue Feb 22 2022
5

This was pretty incredible. I am realizing how good a live album can be. This was such a very alive performance, and hard to imagine that it was shelved for 20 years for being too "raw." I loved it.

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Fri Feb 25 2022
5

I would have loved to see Sam in person. What a soulful and talented singer. Great album!

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Tue Mar 01 2022
5

Lot of Sam Cooke's popular songs were on this and live. Loved it.

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Tue Mar 01 2022
5

very cool

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Thu Mar 03 2022
5

This is such a great live album that it's like why would you even bother recording studio versions? Sam Cooke is absolutely on a roll and his energy - along with the energy of the audience - is clear and infectious in every track.

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Tue Mar 08 2022
5

Now this is what I’m talking about - shagadelic baby

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Sun Mar 13 2022
5

Wow. This was an ELECTRIC performance. I'd heard a few songs by Sam Cooke before, but I'd never given him a proper listen. This was outstanding. I love live albums and this must have been outstanding to see live. This entire album was absolutely rocking and Sam Cooke was a tour de force.

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Sat Mar 19 2022
5

Best Song: For Sentimental Reasons. When the crowd starts singing along and Cooke still soars over top... To be in that room. Worst Song: Twistin' the Night Away. Just not a fan of the twist. Overall: The live setting really works well here. The recording sounds very close, as if the band is grouped tightly together in the corner of a small bar or club. And there's just something about the way you hear idle chatter in the background, the way Cooke rambles and adlibs these little bits. It feels like the audience isn't all stuck, shoulders squared to the stage, watching the music, but are letting themselves enjoy the music and each other. It feels like I can hear dancing. A surprisingly romantic album.

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Tue Mar 29 2022
5

I knew some Sam Cooke, but this album made me a Sam Cooke FAN. This is easily one of the best live albums I have EVER heard. Sam is just as magical and energetic on a live album as he is in studio recordings. If anything, he's even more so in a live environment, where he is able to have these amazing interactions with the audience. He mixes a powerful, electrifying presence and untamed, raw vocals in with all of the quintessential Sam Cooke qualities that already made him great. It's a crime that this album was shelved for 20 years before it was finally released. In a world full of questionable live albums, this album shines as a prime example of what a live album should be. It has big energy, but feels intimate; I really felt transported to the moment. It made me wish I could have physically been there!

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Wed Mar 30 2022
5

All day long!

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Thu Mar 31 2022
5

What can I say here. Sam Cooke is the greatest singer of all time. Bring It On Home to Me is the greatest song of all time.

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Tue Apr 19 2022
5

It is worth noting that, while recorded in 1963, this album did NOT get a release until 1985. According to wikipedia, Cooke's label RCA Victor "viewed the album as too gritty and raw and possibly damaging to his pop image", which is why they didn't put it out at the time. Which is absurd, if you ask me. Sam Cooke is such a natural performer, his charisma and personality oozes out of this record. Him and his band keep the good times rolling through the entire runtime, an incredible feat. The essence of this record is that Cooke is playing so much to his audience, who plays an important part by matching Cooke's energy. This is what really makes the album so great, having the audience and Cooke playing off one another in a vibrant live show that feels so real when listening to it. It is a shame that, almost two years after this performance, Sam Cooke's life would be cut short in a frankly puzzling altercation. This album is a relic, one of Cooke in his prime doing what he did best. Incredible.

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Sat Apr 23 2022
5

fantastic !

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Mon Apr 25 2022
5

Hollywood's contemporary model for the music biopic means we won't get a film of Sam Cooke's life in the foreseeable future. The current template emphasises the redemptive nature of their music, of musicians who battled their demons successfully and performed exquisite music that justifies all the torment they suffered (e.g., Ray, Walk the Line, Bohemian Rhapsody). With Sam Cooke, the outstanding pioneer of soul music, his unfortunate, sordid end precludes your standard music biopic. The only way it could happen is if it ends with a triumphant performance of A Change Is Gonna Come, and just puts a small note at the end saying he was shot through the heart by a hotel manager after an apparent drunken brawl with a prostitute. Still, I neither want nor need a Sam Cooke biopic, and I am rather glad that Sam Cooke won't be contorted through the Hollywood sausage process. Anyway, this album is wonderful for the extremely simple reason that Sam Cooke performs wonderful songs in a wonderful fashion. That's it. That's enough. I had earlier reviewed James Brown's coeval Live at the Apollo, to which I gave 4 stars. I stand by that rating; the album is great fun, if perhaps not quite a masterpiece. I have no such hesitancy with this. It's pure pleasure, pure joy. That it was shelved for two decades just bewilders the modern listener. The record label deemed it to be a bit too passionate and heartfelt for its initial release. Yes, the money men behind the label have always ruined everything with their valueless stupidity. Thankfully, you're now in a position to treat yourself by giving this a blast, so you should take advantage of that right now. Now! I mean it!

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Tue Apr 26 2022
5

Best live album

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Sun May 08 2022
5

I wish I could give this 10 stars. Sam Cooke is a legend. Listening to this live show is incredible. It's more than a concert. It's like a variety show. The call and response is so uplifting that you leave listening, feeling optimistic about the world and how it might be better. Even though you know what's coming next, he is able to infuse an air of suspense that is palpable. I also love the conversational tone of his banter with the crowd. It pulls you in as if you were an old, close friend. The standout tracks for me were "Twistin' The Night Away," "Tennessee Waltz" and "If I Had A Hammer." However, there is no song I would take off and so many gave me goosebumps, like when he croons "give" on "When I Fall In Love" and when he says "away" in "Blowing In The Wind." Such a special album.

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Sun May 08 2022
5

Wonderful -like sinking into a warm bath

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Sun May 08 2022
5

Such a great album. The classic songs, amazing energy of this live performance and passionate signing from Sam Cooke! This will be in heavy rotation for years to come.

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Wed May 11 2022
5

This is brilliant. Loved it.

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Mon May 23 2022
5

Timeless

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

Not something I would’ve picked, but really enjoyed it.

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