Tuesday, 9 June 2015

"Joe Cocker!" by JOE COCKER (1999 CD Remaster On A&M by Suha Gur) - A Review By Mark Barry...

"…I Get The Feeling…"

Joe Cocker's first two albums on England's Regal Zonophone Records (issued on A&M in the USA) - "With A Little Help From My Friends" (September 1969) and "Joe Cocker!" (January 1970) are two absolute belters - and yet their 'American' CD reissues/remasters on A&M in 1999 seem to have gone largely unnoticed here in good old Blighty. Time to rectify this cruel administrative oversight...

USA released October 1999 - A&M 069 490 4202 (use Barcode 606949042028 in Amazon to get the right issue) breaks down as follows (43:14 minutes)

Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Joe Cocker!" - released January 1970 in the UK on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1011 (Stereo only) and A&M Records SP 4224 in the USA.

Originally Produced by DENNY CORDELL and LEON RUSSELL - this superb little CD reissue is Produced by BILL LEVENSON and features the remastering skills of two superb names in Universal's camp - THERESA MALHAM and SUHA GUR. Suha Gur has been involved in large amounts of the much-praised Hip-O Select label (in particular their Motown reissues) - and is a name I actively seek out for great sonic results. The audio quality here is fabulous - punchy, detailed, never too amped up for effect - just really well done. The 8-way foldout inlay has rudimentary liner notes by J.P. BEAN and recording credits with a very cool photo of Cocker with a dog (previously unreleased artwork). His 1969 debut album "With A Little Help From My Friends" was also issued on remastered CD in October 1999 (use Barcode 606949041922 on Amazon to get the right issue) and also features two crucial bonus tracks.

The album opens with a double-whammy of covers - a jaunty Dylan's "Dear Landlord" and a soulful Leonard Cohen's "Bird On A Wire". A cool change of pace brings a Rock-Funky version of Lloyd Price's Rhythm 'n' Blues classic "Lawdy Miss Clawdy". He delivers a superb version of The Beatles "Abbey Road" gem "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" - the first time you also hear the five lady backing vocalists - a sensational line up of MERRY CLAYTON, BONNIE BRAMLETT, RITA COOLIDGE, PATRICE HOLLOWAY and SHIRLEY MATTHEWS. By the time it reaches my fave-rave "Hitchcock Railway" (lyrics above) - I'm grooving like a loon. It's just fabulous stuff - every instrument so clear. The irrepressibly brill "Hitchcock Railway" opens the "Cocker Happy" compilation LP in 1971 (see below). It's a Donald "Duck" Dunn and Tony McCashen song - Joe Feliciano put out a single of it in 1968 on RCA. It `s also at this point do you realize how good the players are.

His backing group 'The Grease Band' included CHRIS STAINTON on Keyboards/Guitar, HENRY McCULLOUGH on Guitar with CHRIS SPENNER on Bass and BRUCE ROWLAND on Drums. 'Friends' at the sessions were two from The Byrds - SNEAKY PETE KLEINOW and CLARENCE WHITE while LEON RUSSELL is in their too (Keyboards) with MILT HOLLAND on Drums.

The excellent "That's Your Business" is a Joe Cocker/Chris Stainton original which is followed by his lovely version of the George Harrison masterpiece "Something". Your then hit with one of my real loves - "Delta Lady" - a Leon Russell gem. It was of course issued as a single and it rocks to this day. It ends with his knack of turning a good song into a great one on his superb re-working of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Darling Be Home Soon". The two bonus tracks are "She's Good To Me" - originally the non-album B-side to "Delta Lady" when it was released in September 1969. Then there's "Let It Be" - an outtake from the "Joe Cocker!" sessions - this cover of The Beatles classic is Previously Unreleased.

So there you have it - a top album remastered to perfection and released at a budget price. What a voice and what a memory...do the hippy shake baby...

PS: As a by the way - I've always loved the compilation LP "Cocker Happy" (pictured above) which came out in the UK in April 1971 on Fly Records HIFLY 3. If you purchase the 1999 A&M CD of his 1969 debut album "With A Little Help From My Friend" on A&M 069 490 419-2 (which also has two crucial bonus tracks - 45:44 minutes) and a "Best of" containing the Mono Single Mix of "The Letter" - you'll be able to sequence the whole album in `remastered' form as follows (instead of paying for highly-priced budget issues):

Side 1:
1. Hitchcock Railway (from "Joe Cocker!")
2. She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (from "With A Little Help...")
3. Marjorine (from "With A Little Help...")
4. She's Good To Me (bonus track on "Joe Cocker!" CD)
5. Hello, Little Friend (from "Joe Cocker!)"
6. With A Little Help From My Friends (from "With A Little Help...")

Side 2:
1. Delta Lady (from "Joe Cocker!")
2. Darling Be Home Soon (from "Joe Cocker!")
3. Do I Still Figure In Your Life (from "With A Little Help...")
4. Feeling Alright (from "Joe Cocker!")
5. Something's Coming On (bonus track on the "With A Little Help..." CD)

6. The Letter (7" Mono Single Version) (from "Best Of" CD)

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 250 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

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