Monday, January 23, 2012

AT THE COPA - Sam Cooke

YEAR: 1964


TRACK LISTING: Opening Introduction, The Best Things In Life Are Free, Bill Bailey, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Frankie and Johnny, Medley: Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me, If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song), When I Fall In Love, Twistin' the Night Away, Band Introductions, This Little Light of Mine, Blowin' In the Wind, Tennessee Waltz

IMPRESSIONS: This is the only live album Sam Cooke released in his lifetime. The one venue he wanted to play was the Copacabana; in the singer's mind you hadn't made it until you'd done it. Cooke famously played the Copa early in his career and bombed spectacularly. Therefore, he vowed he would not play the Copa again until he was ready. By 1964, he finally felt he was ready. This album represents a personal milestone for the singer because he successfully played at his "holy grail" venue at long last. As such, the album is an important audio document in Cooke's career but not necessarily representative of his music. Despite his huge success at the time, practically none of his hit singles can be found here. More Trini Lopez concert than Sam Cooke, the album features song choices which to our modern ears seem mighty odd for the singer to be performing. However, that's what put bums in seats at New York's Copa in 1964. Or should I say WHITE bums in seats. As such, the album also is a major success story in the crossover success of black artists into traditionally white charts. However, as a pure listening experience it can come across as a strangely underwhelming and frustrating affair; unless, of course, you yearn to hear the composer of "A Change Is Gonna Come" sing his rendition of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey".

MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: The Best Things In Life Are Free, Nobody Wants You When You're Down and Out, Medley: Try A Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me, When I Fall In Love, This Little Light of Mine

FACT SHEET: AT THE COPA is Sam Cooke's 16th album (including "Best Ofs"). The live concert was recorded on July 7 - 8, 1964 at New York's Copacabana. Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In the Wind" was a personal favourite of Sam's and it provided inspiration for his own "A Change Is Gonna Come".


  1. Much as I like Sam Cooke, the version of Blowin' in the Wind on this album is embarissingly awful.

  2. You are right, sir! It's rather a missed opportunity for a concert that Cooke felt he had to abandon most of his own hits for such an odd assortment of songs and arrangements.

  3. Hey, that gives me an idea. Maybe I should choose as a theme for my audio blog songs that are embarrassingly awful!!!! Yay! I'll be giving this serious (or silly) consideration.