- Number of Discs: 3
- Released: October 15, 2002
- Label: Specialty
Q - 1/03, p.1324 stars out of 5
- "...Cooke was one of soul music's first and most inspirational voices..."
Uncut - 2/03, p.944 stars out of 5
- "...Prime gospel, many of these tracks are classics....This is an historic anthology..."
Living Blues - 5/03, p.89
"...Listening to him forge a style here, it's hard not to conclude that all his work clearly represents one long, luscious continuum in American music..."
Mojo (Publisher) - 1/03, p.73Ranked #6
in Mojo's "Best Box Sets & Compilations of 2002"
Mojo (Publisher) - 1/03, p.104
"...The three CDs here work on every level. Ordered chronologically, the tracks form a picture of the evolution of American gospel music in the '50s; shadow the growth of the civil rights movement; and tell the story of Cooke's artistic growth..."
Tracks on Disc 1:
- 1.Come, Let Us Go Back to God
- 2.Peace in the Valley
- 3.I'm Gonna Build on That Shore
- 4.I'm Gonna Build on That Shore
- 5.I'm on the Firing Line
- 6.I'm on the Firing Line
- 7.Joy, Joy to My Soul
- 8.Until Jesus Calls Me Home
- 9.Jesus Done Just What He Said
- 10.Jesus Gave Me Water
- 11.He's My Rock (Wait on Jesus)
- 12.How Far Am I From Canaan?
- 13.Christ Is All
- 14.It Won't Be Very Long
- 15.It Won't Be Very Long - (take 2)
- 16.It Won't Be Very Long - (take 3)
- 17.Jesus Will Lead Me to That Promised Land - (take 1)
- 18.Jesus Will Lead Me to That Promised Land - (take 2, incomplete)
- 19.Jesus Will Lead Me to That Promised Land
- 20.Just Another Day
- 21.Let Me Go Home - (take 1)
- 22.Let Me Go Home
- 23.Jesus Paid the Debt
- 24.Jesus Paid the Debt - (take 2)
- 25.How Far Am I From Canaan
- 26.How Far Am I From Canaan - (take 1, incomplete)
- 27.How Far Am I From Canaan? - (take 3)
- 28.Someday Somewhere
- 29.Someday Somewhere
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 1.End of My Journey
- 2.He'll Welcome Me
- 3.He's My Friend Until the End
- 4.He's My Friend Until the End - (take 2)
- 5.I Have a Friend Above All Others
- 6.Come and Go to That Land
- 7.Come and Go to That Land - (take 2, alternate)
- 8.Come and Go to That Land - (take 3, alternate)
- 9.I'd Give up All My Sins and Serve the Lord
- 10.I'm So Happy in the Service of the Lord
- 11.All Right Now
- 12.All Right Now - (take 2, alternative)
- 13.All Right Now - (take 3, alternate)
- 14.He'll Make a Way
- 15.He'll Make a Way - (take 2, alternate)
- 16.Jesus I'll Never Forget
- 17.Jesus, I'll Never Forget - (take 5, alternate)
- 18.Any Day Now
- 19.Any Day Now - (take 6)
- 20.One More River
- 21.Nearer to Thee
- 22.I'm So Glad (Trouble Don't Last Always)
- 23.Be With Me Jesus
- 24.He's My Guide - (take 4)
- 25.He's My Guide - (take 12, incomplete)
- 26.He's My Guide - (take 13)
- 27.Pilgrim of Sorrow
- 28.Pray - (incomplete)
- 29.Last Mile of the Way - (take 1)
- 30.Last Mile of the Way - (take 2)
Tracks on Disc 3:
- 1.Last Mile of the Way
- 2.He's So Wonderful
- 3.Touch the Hem of His Garment
- 4.Jesus, Wash Away My Troubles
- 5.Farther Along
- 6.Must Jesus Bear This Cross Alone?
- 7.Pilgrim of Sorrow
- 8.Happy in Love
- 9.I Need You Now
- 10.I'll Come Running Back to You
- 12.I Don't Want to Cry
- 13.That's All I Need to Know
- 15.Lord Remember Me
- 16.That's Heaven to Me - (take 1)
- 17.That's Heaven to Me
- 18.Were You There? - (false starts takes 1-4)
- 19.Were You There?
- 20.Were You There?
- 21.Mean Old World - (take 3)
- 22.Mean Old World
- 23.I Have a Friend Above All Others
- 24.Be With Me Jesus
- 25.Nearer to Thee
Personnel includes: Sam Cooke (vocals); R.B. Robinson, Paul Foster, Senior Roy Crain, Thomas L. Bruster, Jesse J. Farley.
Includes liner notes by Daniel Wolff.
THE COMPLETE SPECIALTY RECORDINGS was nominated for the 2004 Grammy Awards for Best Album Notes and for Best Historical Album.
Personnel: Sam Cooke (vocals); Roy Crain, SR. (tenor); Bob King , Leroy Crume (baritone, guitar); R.B. Robinson, Thomas L. Bruster (baritone); Jesse J. Farley (bass voice); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Edward David Robinson, Warren Myles, Faidest Wagoner, Evelyn Gay (piano); Willie Webb (organ); Earl Palmer , Abe Mills, L.C. Cook (drums).
Liner Note Author: Daniel Wolff.
Recording information: Cosimo's Studio, New Orleans, LA (03/01/1951-07/22/1955); Master Recorders, Hollywood, CA (03/01/1951-07/22/1955); Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA (03/01/1951-07/22/1955); Universal Recorders, Hollywood, CA (03/01/1951-07/22/1955); Universal Recording Studio, Chicago, IL (03/01/1951-07/22/1955).
Photographer: Lloyd Yearwood.
Arrangers: Rev. Julius Cheeks; Sam Cooke; Roy Crain, SR.
They were known as the Soul Stirrers when they did the 1951-1957 recordings on this three-CD, 84-song collection. It's billed to Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers, though, as it's the ultimate collection of sides he recorded as a member of the group for Specialty Records, along with seven tentative secular pop/rock sides he did for the label as a solo singer in 1956. Cooke doesn't sing lead on all of the Soul Stirrers' tracks, though there are plenty of his leads to hear throughout the set; he shares lead duties with Paul Foster, although by the end of his time in the outfit, Cooke was taking most of the solo leads. There's also one cut, "All Right Now," on which Cooke shares lead with Rev. Julius Cheeks (two alternate versions of the song are also on the set). Even if Cooke isn't always the solo lead, however, he's a big presence on all of these sides, which represent both an important summary of his career prior to achieving pop stardom and a major body of gospel music. While much of the material is traditional (with Cooke contributing some originals), the arrangements do evolve, including some drums, organ, piano, bass, and electric guitar at various points. The link between gospel, R&B, and rock & roll becomes evident to more secular-minded listeners, sometimes strikingly so in Cooke's phrasing, which, even on songs as far back as 1953 ("I'd Give up All My Sins and Serve the Lord"), contained clear antecedents to his vocals on his first breakthrough pop hit, "You Send Me." Naturally those antecedents are heard strongest on the seven 1956 solo cuts that represented his first pop ventures, and although these are on the innocuous side, they're enjoyable foreshadowings of his rock & roll years. Numerous alternate takes and three 1955 live songs (with good sound) complete the most comprehensive portrait of Cooke's gospel years. Note, though, that the version of "I'll Come Running Back to You" -- a Top 20 entry in the wake of "You Send Me" -- lacks the overdub on the hit single. ~ Richie Unterberger