Swing Low Sam Cooke

Album info

Album-Release:
1960

HRA-Release:
01.03.2016

Label: RCA/Legacy

Genre: Blues

Subgenre: Electric Blues

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Swing Low, Sweet Chariot03:07
  • 2I'm Just a Country Boy04:09
  • 3They Call the Wind Maria02:58
  • 4Twilight on the Trail03:12
  • 5If I Had You (I'd Be Happy)02:22
  • 6Chain Gang02:35
  • 7Grandfather's Clock03:13
  • 8Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair03:46
  • 9Long, Long Ago03:00
  • 10Pray02:12
  • 11You Belong o Me02:43
  • 12Goin' Home03:08
  • Total Runtime36:25

Info for Swing Low

Sam Cooke (also known as Swing Low) is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke. Produced by Hugo & Luigi, the album was released in March 1961 in the United States. Sam Cooke began his career as a gospel singer, and after two pop-oriented LPs, the label and Cooke's producers, Hugo & Luigi, decided to play to that side of his repertoire and reputation for this album. This is the man Sam Cooke and his voice in much of their glory. Truly classic.

„Sam Cooke began his career as a gospel singer, and after two pop-oriented LPs, the label and Cooke's producers, Hugo & Luigi, decided to play to that side of his repertoire and reputation for this, his third album. Certainly opening the album with the traditional spiritual 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' and using it as the title track was an acknowledgment of his history. Despite some intersections with his gospel roots and his past history with the Soul Stirrers, however, this album isn't quite what one would expect from its title -- most of Swing Low consists of pop repertoire (including Broadway material), albeit songs that have a devotional, reflective aspect, or a spiritual tone, and the production is very full, if not quite as overblown as some of the songs recorded elsewhere in Cooke's RCA library. The choir and brass are slightly overdone on the title song, but almost everything else is a study in understatement that plays to the quiet strength in Cooke's voice -- 'I'm Just a Country Boy,' 'They Call the Wind Maria' (from Paint Your Wagon), 'Twilight on the Trail,' and 'If I Had You' combine with the title song and the single 'Chain Gang' to make side one of this album a masterpiece of subtlety, and one of the high points of Cooke's early LP output. If parts of his other early-'60s RCA albums represent a tragedy of wasted opportunities, through bad song choices or worse arrangements, Swing Low falls on the other side of that line, bringing home what could (and should) have been -- one hears a phenomenal talent moving in almost precisely the right direction. Side two is a little weaker in focus, digressing back to a trio of 19th century chestnuts, 'Grandfather's Clock,' 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,' and 'Long, Long Ago,' which Cooke's voice does elevate. And then we get to Johnnie Taylor's 'Pray,' the highlight of the album in Cooke's hands, and a song and performance that bring the focus back where it should be. The album closes with 'You Belong to Me,' an original by Cooke and J.W. Alexander, and the Antonin Dvorák-spawned spiritual 'Goin' Home' -- the arrangement of the latter almost swings a little too much, but finally comes off well, and both can be counted among the finest things Cooke ever cut for a long-player and, along with 'Pray,' among his must-own performances. In contrast to many of the singer's early RCA LPs, where one must pick and choose the jewels from among weaker moments, Swing Low is the man and the voice in much of their glory across most of the album.“ (Bruce Eder, AMG)

Sam Cooke, vocals
Clifton White, guitar
Don Arnone, guitar
Everett Barksdale, guitar
Al Chernet, guitar
Milt Hinton, bass
Jimmie Crawford, drums
Bunny Shawker, drums
Hank Jones, piano
Seldon Powell, saxophone
Hinda Barnett, violin
Fred Fradkin, violin
Archie Levin, violin
Harry Lookofsky, violin
Ben Miller, violin
David Nadien, violin
Sylvan Shulman, violin
George Ricci, cello
Al Brown, viola
Steve Lipkins, trumpet
Leon Marian, trumpet
Henderson Chambers, trombone
Albert Godlis, trombone
Frank Saracco, trombone
Sammy Lowe, conductor
Glenn Osser, conductor on “Chain Gang“

Recorded January 25, 1960 at RCA Victor's Studio B; September 9–10, 1960 at RCA Victor's Studio B, New York City
Engineered by Bob Simpson
Produced by Hugo & Luigi

Digitally remastered


Sam Cooke
the son of Reverend Charles Cook, Sr., (a Baptist minister) and Annie May Cook was born January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1933. He had four brothers and three sisters – Willie, Charles Jr., L.C., David, Mary, Hattie and Agnes.

Sam graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in 1948, where he distinguished himself as an “A” student as well as being voted “most likely to succeed.” During his formative years, Sam, together with his brothers Charles Jr., L.C. and sisters Mary and Hattie, performed as a gospel group “The Singing Children.”

At the age of 15, Sam became lead singer of the famous “teenage” gospel group the “Highway QC’s” until he was 19 when he was hand-picked by Roy (S.R.) Crain, manager of the “Soul Stirrers,” to replace the legendary R.H. Harris as lead singer.

In 1951, with the “Soul Stirrers,” he began his writing and recording career on Specialty Records with such gospel classics as “Nearer To Thee,” “Touch The Hem Of His Garment” and “Be With Me Jesus.” For six electrifying years he established a new standard for gospel expression.

“It isn’t what you sing that is so important,” said Sam’s father, “but rather the fact that God gave you a good voice to use. He must want you to make people happy by singing, so go ahead and do so.”

With these words of encouragement, he did just that. At the height of his fame in the gospel world and with the screams of believers raising him up and being raised by him, Sam left it all behind.

In June of 1957 he left Specialty Records, along with his producer/manager Bumps Blackwell, and three months later signed with Keen Records where he wrote and recorded such Number 1 hits as “You Send Me,” “Win Your Love For Me,” “Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha,” “Only Sixteen” and “(What A) Wonderful World.” Sam didn’t “cross-over” he “combined” – blending sensuality and spirituality, sophistication and soul.

After the success of “You Send Me” in 1957, Sam signed with the William Morris Agency, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and performed at New York City’s world famous Copacabana in March of 1958.

In 1959, Sam married Barbara Campbell, his childhood sweetheart, at her Grandmother’s house in Chicago, with his father performing the ceremony. They had two daughters – Linda and Tracey and a son, Vincent, who, in 1963, died tragically at the age of eighteen months. Sam also became partners in 1959 with J.W. Alexander in Kags Music (now ABKCO Music, Inc.) and later that year, with J.W., Sam formed SAR Records (now ABKCO Records). Kags Music would control not only Sam’s 152 classic compositions, but also the compositions written by artists signed to SAR.

In 1960, Sam signed with RCA Records, a deal negotiated by The William Morris Agency, where he continued to write and record such Number 1 hits as “Chain Gang,” “Twisting The Night Away,” “Bring It On Home To Me,” “Having A Party” and “Cupid.”

In 1963, J.W. and Sam appointed Allen Klein to manage SAR, Kags and all of the related companies; at the same time Allen became Sam’s manager. On September 1st of the same year, Sam signed a new agreement whereby all of his RCA business would pass through Sam’s record label, Tracey Records. RCA was now merely Tracey Records’ distributor. This new deal guaranteed Sam a minimum advance of half a million dollars over three years and established Sam’s complete ownership of his work. Everything he did from this point on would be by his own design and direction, and in fact even RCA’s distribution rights of the Tracey material were limited to 30 years from the term of the agreement.

Before producing his good friend Cassius Clay’s (Muhammad Ali) recording titled “The Gang’s All Here,” he and Malcolm X attended Clay’s heavyweight championship bout with Sonny Liston in Miami.

Sam died on December 11, 1964. “At the Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Los Angeles, a crowd of 5,000 persons, some of whom arrived five hours before the scheduled last rites, over-ran facilities designed to accommodate 1,500. In an emotion packed atmosphere, super charged by the singing of Lou Rawls, Bobby Blue Bland and Arthur Lee Simpkins, women fainted, tears ran down men’s cheeks and onlookers shouted. Gospel singer Bessy Griffin, who was to appear on the funeral program, became so grief stricken she had to be carried off. Ray Charles stepped in from the audience to sing and play ‘Angels Keep Watching Over Me’.” EBONY Magazine February 1965

For 14 years Sam sanctified and glorified his gospel heritage and forged new paths by being the first black artist to establish his own record company (SAR) where he helped such gospel oriented artists as the Womack Brothers (Bobby, Cecil, Friendly Jr., Curtis and Harry) who later became the Valentinos, R.H. Harris & His Gospel Paraders, The Simms Twins, Johnnie Morisette, Johnnie Taylor and Billy Preston, as well as giving continued expression to the Soul Stirrers.

Today, many years after he began his writing and recording career, Sam’s music endures with cover recordings by artists from all genres of the recording industry such as Aretha, Bryan Adams, Gerald Alston, The Animals, Arcade Fire, The Band, Billy Bragg, Solomon Burke, Jimmy Buffet, Eric Clapton, Shemekia Copeland, Jim Croce, Terrence Trent D’Arby, Gavin DeGraw, Bob Dylan, The Fugees, Art Garfunkel, Al Green, Leela James, Jon Bon Jovi, R. Kelly, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Nas, The Neville Brothers, Otis Redding, The Righteous Brothers, The Rolling Stones, Seal, Dan Seals, Nina Simone, The Spinners, Cat Stevens, Rod Stewart, The Supremes, James Taylor, Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Jackie Wilson, Bobby Womack and Ray Charles, among many others. (Source: http://www.abkco.com)

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