Down Beat - 1/92, p.36
"...the first recordings the soul crooner made... at his smooth-and-sweet best here, dipping into the heartfelt zone.."
Mojo (Publisher) - 12/02, p.99
"...A masterclass in vocal performance, this 3-CD set collects the great man's uplifting work..."
Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers: Sam Cooke, Jesse J. Farley, S. Roy Crain, R.B. Robinson, Paul Foster, T.L. Brewster (vocals).
Additional personnel includes: Earl Palmer (leader, drums); Bob King (vocals, guitar); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Faidest Wagoner, Edward Robinson, Warren Myles, Evelyn Gay (piano); Willie Webb (organ); Frank Fields (bass); L.C. Cook (drums); Loulie Jean Norman, Alicia Adams, Ralph Brewster, Lee Gotch, Marne Nixon, Clark Yocum (background vocals).
Principally recorded in Hollywood, New Orleans and Chicago between March 1, 1951 and February 17, 1958. Includes liner notes by Lee Hildebrand.
Digitally remastered by Joe Tarantino (1991, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California).
This is part of Specialty Records' The Legends Of Specialty Series.
Personnel: Sam Cooke (vocals); Bob King (vocals, guitar); R.B. Robinson, J.J. Farley, Paul Foster, Roy Crain, SR. (vocals); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Eddie Robinson, Warren Myles, Faidest Wagoner, Evelyn Gay (piano); Willie Webb (organ, programming); Earl Palmer , I.C. Cook, L.C. Cook (drums); Ralph Brewster, Alicia Adas, Clark Yocum, Lee Gotch, Loulie Jean Norman, Marni Nixon (background vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Liner Note Author: Lee Hildebrand.
Recording information: Cosimo Recording studio, New Orleans, LA (03/01/1951-02/16/1955); Master Recorders, Hollywood, CA (03/01/1951-02/16/1955); Radio Recorders, Hollywood, CA (03/01/1951-02/16/1955); Universal Recording Studios, Chicago, IL (03/01/1951-02/16/1955).
Unknown Contributor Role: Paul Foster.
Arrangers: Sam Cooke; Roy Crain, SR.
Sam Cooke's pop masterpieces are bred into the very fabric of our culture. "You Send Me," "A Change is Gonna Come," "Chain Gang" and "What a Wonderful World" are the stuff that helped birth rock and roll and inspire artists as diverse as Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, and Ted Hawkins. There are a select few who will say that the real treasures are Cooke's earlier and lesser-known gospel releases. Upon listening to the joyous sounds he made with the seminal Soul Stirrers, it's a viable argument, not to mention a thrilling look at the singer in the process of developing his trademark vocal delivery.
Leaping out of the mostly accapella selections here is a young Cooke, his immaculate phrasing and signature "whoa-ooh-oh-oh-oh" already taking formation. It is arguable that the sense of passion and freedom here outstrips that of his pop recordings. Whatever your preferences, this collection is yet another piece of evidence that Sam Cooke was the greatest singer who ever lived.