Friday, October 29, 2010

Sam Cooke, Live at Harlem Square, 1963

Sam Cooke in studio, 1963Image via Wikipedia
I told ya'll about my funk-fiend homeboy Milton Carrillo.  If you've been following Mr. World from day one then you'll be picking up what I'm 'bout to lay down.  Well my amigo from the San Fernando Valley is legendary for his Dub Reggae knowledge.  One of my favorite ways to keep the flow a go is to straight chill in the Sunset studio with my man Milton.  Sun turns to night and the tunes are all super tight. 

Now, my man knows I can get down with some Dub but he really knows what keeps the space machine flying, and my home planet from dying is the Soul.  I'm always bustin' out the classics that the Professor said were essentials; Otis, Wilson, Marvin, Ray and Etta, etc..  Homeboy thinks it's a trip when I start talking my jive about The Mission and my alien crew.  He sees my white skin and my funky ass threads, he's thinking, "This fool can't be for real.".  I try to break it down for him one piece at a time but when you've been in Hollywood long enough everyone seems like they're from a distant galaxy.  

So Carrillo puts me on the spot, "Alright man, I feel ya on the Soul, who's the greatest of all time?".  He may have been looking for me to fumble and stutter but people there ain't no other, Sam Cooke is the king of kings.  And if the proof is in the pudding then the pudding is Sam Cooke: Live at Harlem Square, 1963.

You have to follow me on this one friends.  I know the World can get himself going on the Vibe and the Real but this album is a time capsule of cool.  On vinyl it's a surreal trip inside a traumatic period of American history.  It was recorded live in 1963 at the Harlem Club in Miami, FL but amazingly not released by RCA until 1985, then it was remixed, stripped down, and released again for the Man Who Invented Soul box set.  But skip the digital defunct and find the '85 RCA on Vinyl.  It's immortal.    

If you are looking for the clean studio melodies from Sam on this album you're barking up the wrong tree.  Nothing but raw soul pours out of the man on this famous night.  His messages are raspy, truthful, and even haunting in parts.  Sam riffs and scats like he is in a trance.  The crowd is as much a part of the recording as the rhythm section.  It's as if they know they are witnessing history in the making.  You'll get all his hits but you'll get 'em the way Sam wanted you to.

Sam Cooke was shot and killed less than two years after that night in Miami at the age of 33.  He had 29 top 40 hits during his short career.  His murder was considered justifiable homicide.  Live at Harlem Square is the closest you'll ever come to knowing Soul and Sam Cooke.  That's just how the Man With the Plan wanted it.  Can you dig it?

-Mr. World 
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