The problem with issuing compilations of Sam Cooke
material is one of licensing, since his early gospel work with the Soul Stirrers
is owned chiefly by Specialty Records; his first secular pop hits like "You Send Me," "(What A) Wonderful World," and "Only Sixteen" are owned by Keen Records; his middle pop period and songs like "Chain Gang," "Cupid," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Having a Party," and "Bring It on Home to Me" are owned by RCA Records; and recorded material from the last year of his life, which includes the magnificent "A Change Is Gonna Come," is controlled by ABKCO Records. Any collection hoping to make a full survey of Cooke
's career is thus extremely difficult to assemble. This set gets you part way there, at least on the secular side of things, combining Cooke
's early pop hits for Keen Records ("You Send Me," "[What A] Wonderful World," and "Only Sixteen") with some of his later hits for RCA Records (“Chain Gang,” "For Sentimental Reasons,” and “Sad Mood”), and making a pretty cool playlist out of it. A lot of key tracks from Cooke
's secular catalog are absent here, however, including RCA sides "Cupid," "Twistin' the Night Away," "Having a Party," and "Bring It on Home to Me," as well as the ABKCO-owned "A Change Is Gonna Come," so there’s a lot more to the story. Any Sam Cooke
beats no Sam Cooke
, though, and this set is full of enough classics to more than get the point across.