February 27, 2008

Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963

Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, Sam Cooke, Rolling Stone Magazine's #443

exile staff consensus: Top 400 album

the breakdown:
3.5 cannons - eurowags
2.0 cannons - venerableseed
1.5 cannons - polchic

the essays:
NEW POST (scroll back up)
2/27 @ noon - Sam Cooke makes Wags sweat. Just try and listen to the album without perspiring. We dare you.
2/19 @ 9 a.m. - Sam Cooke, the sixties, and segregation.

the introduction:
Fourteen live albums make the Rolling Stone 500 list but Sam Cooke's Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 is the only one not to have been released within a year of its recording. Cooke's legendary January 12 Miami, Florida performance did not see the light of day until 1985!

The obvious question is why did it take so long to appear?

Cooke's Live at the Copa album was released shortly before his December 1964 murder but was the antithesis to Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963. At the Copa was recorded in an upscale conservative establishment in front of a largely white audience. Neither Cooke nor his audience seem energetic, excited, or legendary and for 21 years At the Copa served as the only audio documentation of a man history widely honors as the greatest soul singer of all time. How could "the greatest" have so little soul? Those who had seen Cooke in person attested to his brilliance but the was no evidence. Enter Live at the Harlem Square, 1963.

Its been just over 45 years since Cooke's Harlem Square performance. Does the album hold up? Should it rank in the top 15 live rock albums of all time? Does it belong in the canon? Let's find out.

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