The One And Only Sam Cooke is the second in the Vivascene series of articles on great vinyl listening experiences, curated from our Editor’s record collection.
Purchased from Sam The Record Man’s giant record emporium in downtown Toronto back in 1978, this album continues to provide sonic satisfaction to this day. The vinyl itself in still in excellent condition despite well over a thousand plays, though the cover has required a liberal application of Scotch tape along the edges, owing to a flooded basement incident in 2003. There is a small notch at top right of the front cover, indicating the album was a delete, a cut-out, from the publisher’s catalogue as well as the distributor’s stock. That usually told a tale of low sales, which translated to the avid fan one thing: The One and Only Sam Cooke was a bargain.
Total cost $1.99. Total value: inestimable. You can’t purchase this album anywhere, and it’s never been streamed, though I managed to create a Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
Sam Cooke began as a gospel singer with The Soul Stirrers, and went to forge a brilliant career as a pop stylist and evolved to become perhaps the best singer of R & B ever. Yet he was more than that. Sam Cooke could literally sing anything. This album, a humble collection put out by Camden, which was a budget division of RCA Records, contains Cooke’s covers of well-known standards by such artists as Harry Belafonte (“Jamaica Farewell”, Nat King Cole (“Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”), Nina Simone (“Little Girl Blue”) and other top-ranked singers. Sam brings an incredible soulfulness to every cut, in a manner that exceeds all boundaries and genres.
The album opens with “Jamaica Farewell” and closes with the blues classic “Since I Met You Baby”. Ten songs, 29:55 minutes of the most glorious singing you are likely to hear anywhere.
Recommended beyond measure.
Album release date ~ 1968 via Camden Records CAS-2264
Compilation of songs taken from Cooke’s Tour, My Kind of Blues, and Swing Low
Pro-Ject Debut Pro Turntable with Ortofon 2M Black
Arcam FMJ A19 Integrated Amplifier
Dali Oberon 5 floor standing speakers
Nordost White Lightning cables
Various other accoutrements: IsoAccoustics Platform, IsoAcoustics Orea Bronze, Audioquest cables
The Pleasures of Vinyl #2: The One And Only Sam Cooke