Those of us who weren't around to see Cooke in person may not be aware of his ability to work an audience into a frenzied fervor. The Cooke we get to see is the cool, smooth, sophisticated entertainer persona he presented to mainstream America. But that's just part of the picture. There was a whole other side of this legend that kind of gets kind of lost in the shuffle. It's the Cooke who was adored and cherished by the community who originally embraced him. Luckily there is an audio document of THAT Cooke. It was recorded in 1963 in front of Miami's Black audience at the Harlem Square Club. The album wasn't released until 1985. It was deemed too gritty at the time by his label RCA and they felt it a risky move to release it.
This is the closest we'll ever get to hearing the fiery, raw and rootsy gospel showman in Sam Cooke. This show gets as passionate as a camp meeting and I highly suggest listening to the entire album from beginning to end. It's one of the greatest live albums of all time. I'm posting the first two songs. "Feel It" is of course a gospel-inspired number and leads into Cooke's subtle social comment on institutionalized slavery (aka prison) with "Chain Gang". Give them a listen and let Sam Cooke take you to church.