Soul Review: Sam Cooke-The Complete Keen Years (1957 – 1960)

Release Date: January 24, 2020
Label: ABKCO

The silky-smooth voice of Sam Cooke will never be forgotten. His life was way too short but did he ever leave behind an amazing musical legacy.
Part of that legendary performer's catalog was his time at the Keen label. The Complete Keen Years (1957 – 1960) is a 5 CD set that covers all of that pivotal time in his career.

Sam was the king of soul and would have held that title much longer if it wasn’t for premature death. There is a documentary on his life on Netflix and the suspicious circumstances behind the ending of his time here on earth. But that is another story entirely.

The focus here is the music and it all is very exceptional. I personally never sat down and listened to this much Sam Cooke music with exception of a best-of set on vinyl. This set solidified my belief that he was one the greatest vocalist to ever hit the stage or record. If you cannot find several gems on this box set, I would suggest moving on to something else. If you appreciate great soul music with a mixture of pop elements you will love this from beginning to end.

Sam’s rise to fame was meteoric after leaving his first band the Soul Stirrers. He was also a clever businessman that would have gone places in the areas of labels and recording upcoming artists, I imagine very similar to what Berry Gordy did with Motown.

It is comforting to know we still have all of his music to appreciate and The Complete Keen Years (1957 – 1960) will be a revelation to those that may have not discovered this incredible collection of early soul music. This is a solid package with a nice booklet filled with interesting info. So, if you want to hear a collection by one of the true innovators and well-known artists of soul music, then you must hear this set whether you are a longtime fan or just a beginner.

Who else could have covered the music of Billie Holiday so eloquently as Sam? Tribute to The Lady was originally released on Keen in 1959. It is an exceptional collection Lady Day’s work and included in this set. If you happen to like Holiday’s work you will appreciate Sam’s interpretations. That is but one example of what you will enjoy on this box set.

I decided to listen to one CD every day to take it all in and observe all the styles and approaches Sam took with each recording. It gave me a view of the man and his music I have never had the opportunity to enjoy before. I have no doubt I will be seeking more of Sam’s music in the future and will be looking for more collections like The Complete Keen Years (1957 – 1960).

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
March 5, 2020

Review Provided By MuzikReviews.net

Disc 1 - Sam Cooke - originally released on Keen in 1958

1) You Send Me
2) The Lonesome Road
3) Tammy
4) Ol’ Man River
5) Moonlight In Vermont
6) Canadian Sunset
7) Summertime, Pt. 2
8) Around the World
9) Ain’t Misbehavin’
10) The Bells of St. Mary’s
11) So Long
12) Danny Boy
12) That Lucky Old Sun

Disc 2 - Encore - originally released on Keen in 1958

1) Oh, Look at Me Now
2) Someday
3) Along the Navajo Trail
4) Running Wild
5) Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive
6) Mary, Mary Lou
7) When I Fall in Love
8) I Cover the Waterfront
9) My Foolish Heart
10) Today I Sing the Blues
11) The Gypsy
12) It’s the Talk of the Town

Disc 3 - Tribute to The Lady - originally released on Keen in 1959
1) God Bless the Child
2) She’s Funny That Way
3) I’ve Gotta Right to Sing the Blues
4) Good Morning Heartache
5) Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do)
6) Comes Love
7) Lover Girl (Man)
8) Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
9) Lover Come Back to Me
10) Solitude
11) They Can’t Take That Away from Me
12) Crazy She Calls Me
Disc 4 -
Hit Kit - originally released on Keen in 1959; 9 bonus tracks
1) Only Sixteen
2) All of My Life
3) Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha
4) Blue Moon
5) Win Your Love For Me
6) Lonely Island
7) You Send Me
8) Love You Most of All
9) (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons
10) Little Things You Do
11) Let’s Go Steady Again
12) You Were Made For Me
13) Lonely Island (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
14) Win Your Love For Me (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
15) Almost In Your Arms (Theme from Houseboat) (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
16) Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
17) Little Things You Do (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
18) Only Sixteen (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
19) Let’s Go Steady Again (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
20) With You (Stereo) [Bonus Track]
21) Ee-I-Ee-I-Oh a/k/a Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh (Stereo) [Bonus Track]

Disc 5 - The Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke - originally released on Keen in 1960; 6 bonus tracks
1) (What A) Wonderful World
2) Desire Me
3) Summertime, Pt. 1
4) Almost in Your Arms (from “Houseboat”)
5) That’s Heaven to Me
6) No One (Can Ever Take Your Place)
7) With You
8) Blue Moon
9) Stealing Kisses
10) You Were Made for Me
11) There I’ve Said It Again
12) I Thank God
13) Steal Away (Album Version) [Bonus Track]
14) Deep River [Bonus Track]
15) One Hour Ahead of the Posse [Bonus Track]
16) Ee-I-Ee-I-Oh a/k/a Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh [Bonus Track]
17) So Glamorous [Bonus Track]
18) Steal Away (Single Version) [Bonus Track]

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