Sam Cooke boxset announced: 'The Complete Keen Years: 1957 – 1960'

Sam Goode

ABKCO Music & Records celebrates the year-long celebration leading up to the 90th anniversary of Sam Cooke’s birth with the January 24 release of The Complete Keen Years: 1957 – 1960 Box Set. Announced today, the boxset consists of eight vinyl editions, including several Tracey Limited titles restored with original artwork. 

Following the expiration of his RCA Victor contract in 1963, Sam Cooke established Tracey Limited, his own label, which assigned distribution rights to RCA for a finite period of time. Tracey was Cooke’s way to assert both artistic commercial control over his own recordings and to better realise his far-reaching musical ambitions. He was one of the first recording stars, black or white, to command this kind of control, the most noteworthy other example at the time being Frank Sinatra. The first album released through Tracey were Sam Cooke At The Copa and Ain’t That Good News.

Sam Cooke At The Copa, first issued in October of 1964, is the audio document of Cooke’s triumphant stand at New York’s leading nightclub and offers insight into his easy going but totally focused performing style in front of a sophisticated audience.  The New York Times review noted of Cooke’s Copacabana performance fifty-five years ago, “It may surprise that he has dignity, humility and feeling to go with a strong voice. In the years to come, more will be heard of Mr. Cooke.  His is a talent that can grow.”  

Despite Cooke’s tragic and untimely death before the end of that year, the review’s prophesy has been borne out by the masterful performances heard on At The Copa that include Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Frankie and Johnny, Try A Little Tenderness,  and the hits Twistin’ The Night Away, You Send Me and (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons.  Of special note is Cooke’s version of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind that reflected the struggle for civil rights that was underway at that time.  Dylan’s song inspired Cooke to write his like-themed masterpiece, A Change Is Gonna Come.

Sourced from newly discovered master tape reels, these albums, pressed on 180 gm vinyl, feature restored original art and the original tune stacks as when first released.  They include Sam Cooke, Encore, Tribute to The Lady, Hit Kit and The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke; essential titles in the Sam Cooke vinyl library.