Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Number 633 - Joe Cocker

Number 633

Joe Cocker

"Feelin' Alright"

Joe Cocker has to be one of the more "unsung" (excuse the pun) rock stars of all time. Although he was a Woodstock hero he never got the claim to fame he probably deserved. I was fortunate to see his performance here in Auckland, New Zealand (Dirkadirkastan) in late 80's or early 90's, talk about a set of pipes on that man! Of course it didn't help that i was up the front and not far from the main speakers. (What did you say? Huh?).
The closest thing we have as a performer here in that vein in New Zealand is Ritchie Pickett who displays a fantastic act in itself if not just the singing! Just ask anyone at the 2006 Devonport Wine & Food festival ~ just watch out for those miniature scotch bottles he throws at Emo's. I told Ritchie when he signed a CD of his "F**K you David Chapman xxx Love Quentin" that i would make him famous one day online. He just nodded, flicked his cigg and said "Whatever"

Joe Cocker's debut album holds up extraordinarily well across four decades, the singer's performance bolstered by some very sharp playing, not only by his established sideman/collaborator Chris Stainton, but also some top-notch session musicians, among them drummer Clem Cattini, Steve Winwood on organ, and guitarists Jimmy Page and Albert Lee, all sitting in. It's Cocker's voice, a soulful rasp of an instrument backed up by Madeline Bell, Sunny Weetman and Rossetta Hightower that carries this album and makes "Change in Louise," "Feeling Alright," "Just Like a Woman," "I Shall Be Released," and even "Bye Bye Blackbird" into profound listening experiences. But the surprises in the arrangements, tempo, and approaches taken help make this an exceptional album. Tracks like "Just Like a Woman," with its soaring gospel organ above a lean textured acoustic and light electric accompaniment, and the guitar-dominated rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" -- the formal debut of the Grease Band on record -- all help make this an exceptional listening experience. The 1999 A&M reissue not only includes new notes and audiophile-quality sound, but also a pair of bonus tracks, the previously unanthologized B-sides "The New Age of Lily" and "Something Coming On," deserved better than the obscurity in which they previously dwelt. ~ Bruce Eder

What does Granny Stone think of Joe Cocker?
Joe Cocker and the Grease Band were ending a performance they gave recently at the Whiskey in Los Angeles. As they went into their explosive version of "With A Little Help From My Friends," a nubile young admirer, apparently driven wild by Cocker's amazing voice and insane spastic contortions, stationed herself on her back between Cocker's legs and, reaching up, began to work the Cocker cock with considerable fervor. Moments later Joe delivered the scream of his career.
That Cocker is a Charles imitator is beyond argument—at various places on his album he even receives vocal backing from former Raelettes. But Cocker has assimilated the Charles influence to the point where his feeling for what he is singing cannot really be questioned And, in answer to the question of why someone should listen to Cocker when there is Charles to listen to—how many times in recent years has the latter applied himself to such exceptional modern material as Dave Mason's "Feelin' Alright?" or such contemporary Dylan as "I Shall Be Released" (of which Cocker does the most evocative, moving version I've yet heard)?
Besides such material as the Dylan, Mason and Beatle stuff there are three originals written by Cocker and Grease Band keyboard man Chris Stainton: "Marjorine" (a Stainton puppet show score to which Joe added words), "A Change in Louise," and "Sandpaper Cadillac," all of which are brilliant rock tunes. It's a triumph all around. And the thought of Cocker's next album, which will include new Harrison and McCartney songs and a lot more Grease Band originals, is an exceptionally pleasant one. (RS 40) JOHN MENDELSOHN
For Jimmy Page see Number 957
For Bob Dylan see Number 841 & Number 929
For The Beatles see Number 894 & Number 947
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Always the bridesmaid) and the Album ranked at Number (But never the conquering rocker)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truly magnificent stuff. Probably my all time favourite singer (I can be fickle). I don't often blog about music, being something of an egg head, but I have made an exception, not just for Joe, but for a newly emerging singer who is obviously inspired by the same muse - Ben Mills. Since it was this piece of yours which gave me the idea to write it I have included due link. Read and hear about it at http://perilouspierre.blogspot.com/2007/04/joe-cocker-legacy.html
and thanks, as always for the inspiration.

11:12 am  
Blogger crowbarred said...

I will certainly check it out Pierre. I am on the hunt for new music all the time. Joe Cocker is a frequent visitor to these shores so i hope to catch one of the legend's concerts again! PS By the way there is rumours PINK FLOYD is coming to NZ ~ woot!

6:22 pm  

Post a comment

<< Home