elcome to the Digital Meltd0wn Music Blog. The aim of this blog is to introduce the readers to music that is out of print, commercially unavailable, released under a creative commons license, or with approval by the featured artist. The majority of the music posted here would be considered underground. Don't let that fool you into thinking that the music featured here might be any less enjoyable than that of the mainstream artists you hear on the radio, as this couldn't be further from the truth. Please keep in mind that the majority of the artists that appear on this blog, along with their respective record labels, are not wealthy and need your support. If you enjoy the material that you find here, please support the artists/labels by purchasing their material afterwards. If you are an artist/label that would prefer to have your material removed from this blog, simply leave me a comment, and I would be more than happy to promptly remove the offending post. In addition to running this blog, I also work on a few other projects during my spare time. You can find links to those, as well as a few other important links associated with Digital Meltd0wn in the menu bar above.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sam Cooke - Live at the Harlem Square Club 1963

For anyone who thought they knew Sam Cooke's music based on the hit singles, this disc will be a revelation. This is the real Sam Cooke, doing a sweaty, raspy soulful set at the Harlem Square Club in North Miami, FL, on Jan. 12, 1963, backed by King Curtis and his band, a handful of local musicians, and Cooke's resident sidemen, guitarist Clifford White and drummer Albert "June" Gardner. To put it simply, it's one of the greatest soul records ever cut by anybody, outshining James Brown's first live album from the Apollo Theater and easily outclassing Jackie Wilson's live record from the Copa. Cooke's pop style is far removed from the proceedings here, which have the feel of being virtually a secular sermon. The record opens with the frantic, desperate chant-like "Feel It," followed by a version of "Chain Gang" that has all of the gentling influences of the single's string accompaniment stripped from it -- Cooke's slightly hoarse voice only adds to the startling change in the song, transformed from a piece of pop-soul into an in-your-face ode to freedom and release. "Cupid," perhaps the most sweetly textured song that Cooke cut during the 1960s, gets the full soul treatment, with horns and Curtis' sax up front and Cooke imparting an urgency here that's only implied in the studio rendition. "Twistin' the Night Away" gets two hot King Curtis sax solos, the highlights of a pounding, rippling performance with a beautifully vamped extended ending (with the drums, bass, and White's guitar wrapping themselves ever tighter around the central riff) that never would have made it to the floor of the Copa. "Somebody Have Mercy" leads into a long vamp by Cooke, a brief, soaring quotation from "You Send Me" that could easily have been a high point in sheer intensity -- and then Cooke and the band crank the tension and the spirits several notches higher with the greatest version of "Bring It On Home to Me" ever done by anybody. It all ends with a version of "Having a Party" that manages to be both soothing and wrenching at the same time, Cooke luxuriating in every nuance as the crowd joins in singing, reaching a higher pitch to the gently swinging tune, the drums kicking in harder, the rhythm guitar rising up, and Curtis' sax and the horns rising up slowly while Cooke goes on with his singing, which is more like preaching and the group sounds like it could play the riff all night. It's one of the cruel ironies of the recording business that this unique and extraordinary concert recording went unreleased for almost 22 years, in favor of the more polished (but also more antiseptic and duller) Sam Cooke at the Copa.

Track List:
1. Feel It
2. Chain Gang
3. Cupid
4. Medley: It's All Right/For Sentimental Reasons
5. Twistin' The Night Away
6. Somebody Have Mercy
7. Bring It On Home To Me
8. Nothing Can Change This Love
9. Having A Party

Download: Sam Cooke - Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963 (79.2MB)


Anonymous said...

oh, thank you. oooh thank you.
i always understood sam cooke as on of the "inventors of soul", but i didn't quite understand his impact until i heard this live recording. whoa! thank you so much!
furthermore & in general: i appreciate your work a lot. good to hear you're getting better (resp'ly your friend).
btw: i'm curious about german oak. always asked myself if their cover artwork (& the nibelungen topic) was some kind of laibach-like postmodernism, or pre-punk angsty provocation against postwar deutschland, or really some weird kraut-germanic-neoromanticistic nazi-hippie shit (if u know what i mean). hope you're gonna give us the link soon, so's we can see for ourselves.
tv age

Anonymous said...

This album was vitally important in establishing Sam as a true Soul Superstar. It brought an awareness to the mainstream that his "people" knew existed, but the rest of America was unaware of. A simply brilliant live recording.

I'm Sam Cooke's great-nephew and family historian. I'm hosting a world-wide live teleseminar in Sam's honor. Details can be found at www.AskaSamCookeQuestion.com.

Keep Havin' that Party,

Erik Greene
Author, "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective"

Anonymous said...

Great post, thank you very much

fulhamx said...

Gotta be honest, I never really rated Sam Cooke, it was always a little too polished for want of a better word for my liking, but this is fantastic!
It's the sort of raw soul I never thought he was capable of
It's a great post, thank you so much

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this great upload. this music will always still fresh.

Subcomandante Marcos said...

Excellent live recording, make me want to shake my tail!