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Music Review: Sam Cooke – One Night Stand! Live At The Harlem Square Club

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The Sony BMG Legacy vinyl reissue series has made the wise decision to return the classic Sam Cooke album, One Night Stand! Live At The Harlem Square Club, to vinyl. They even went the extra mile and issued it as a 180 gram vinyl audiophile recording. This means that the vinyl is heavier which enhances the sound quality. The overall clarity is easily equal to that of a CD.

Sam Cooke was a member of the gospel group, The Soul Stirrers, before going solo. Beginning in 1957 he would have a string of crossover hits including “You Send Me,” “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” and “Another Saturday Night.” All told he would place 29 hits on the pop charts and many more on the rhythm and blues charts.

He is primarily remembered for his smooth adult contemporary vocal sound that was very reminiscent to Nat King Cole at times. However, by the time this album was recorded he was changing into more of a classic R&B vocal artist. He had also learned to work an audience and this performance captures the energy of his late career concert style well.

Sam Cooke would be shot and killed in December of 1964. This performance, recorded Jan. 12, 1963, was a fitting memorial to his memory and legacy. According to the poster that is pictured on the inner sleeve, the admission charge ranged from $1.50 all the way up to $2.50. The added bonus to this performance was King Curtis on saxophone who was touring with Cooke at the time.

The album is short, less than 40 minutes, which was typical of the time, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in entertainment value.

“Bring It On Home To Me” is a powerful vocal reminiscent of his gospel days. “Having A Party” and  “Twistin’ The Night Away” are slightly longer versions than the original single releases which allow Cooke to improvise and interact with the audience. “Chain Gang” and “Cupid” are presented back to back and show just what a superior vocalist Sam Cooke was outside of the studio.

One Night Stand! Live At The Harlem Square Club captures a great artist at the height of his powers. While I don’t think I have ever heard a bad Sam Cooke performance, this one is at the head of the class. So find a good turntable and give this wonderful album a listen in the format in which it was originally intended.

 

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