Sam Cooke’s Finest
Night Beat (1963)
Likely the most important album in Cooke’s career in terms of expressing his vocal ability. Most of the songs on this album feature no more than Cooke, a string bass, a piano and a drum kit. Saddened by the death of his young son, Cooke shares with us all his blues.
Mr. Soul (1963)
Mr. Soul sounds like an attempt to reach two different markets. Many songs are too overdone in terms of backing arrangements in an attempt to reach the white audience necessary for a successful pop album. But behind it all is Cooke’s wonderful voice that is rooted in Gospel. And that alone carries this album.
3 Great Guys (1963)
A compilation of 3 of RCA Victor’s best artists at the time. Historically speaking, it is pretty cool to see a black man in the middle of the cover.
Ain’t That Good News (1964)
His masterpiece and his swan song. The A-Side of this album features some of the best soul songs Cooke would ever write like “Good Times” “Meet Me at Mary’s Place” and “Ain’t that Good News.” The first track on the B-Side is the soul music and civil rights classic “A Change is Gonna Come”
Sam Cooke at the Copa (1963)
Cooke’s second go at the Copacabana Club was a huge success! Performed in front of a mainly white audience, the sound is a bit tame but it is nonetheless a fantastic sound without much of the overproduction of the studio albums.
Featuring the late Cooke’s last singles - listen to “Shake” and the powerful soul tunes “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You” and “(Somebody) Ease My Troubled Mind”
Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square 1963* (1985)
Performing in front of a mainly black audience, Cooke rips incredibly soulful, hot and gospel tinged hits. Listen to the live versions of “Twistin the Night Away” “Somebody Have Mercy” and “Bring it on Home” without stopping. Those three songs combined probably are the most powerful soul performance ever.
One Night Stand! (2011)
Same album as the last but the recent press.