Sam Cooke – Hits of the ’50s in Living Stereo

  • A vintage Living Stereo recording that’s rarely available on the site, this Sam Cooke LP boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • If you want to hear one of the great vocalists from the ’50s, in his prime, with top quality audiophile sound, this is the album that will do the trick!
  • This is the way it must have sounded in 1960, in the New York studios where it was recorded, with legendary RCA engineer BOB SIMPSON behind the board
  • This is not the typically radio-EQ’d singing-out-of-tin-can sound of so many male vocal albums from the era – Cooke’s voice is warm and rich here

This early pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot begin to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing into a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Copies with rich lower mids did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural ambience and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to pressings from and any era and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

Best Practices

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.


Side One

Hey There 
Mona Lisa 
Too Young 
The Great Pretender
You, You, You 
Unchained Melody

Side Two

The Wayward Wind 
Secret Love 
The Song From The Moulin Rouge
I’m Walking Behind You 

Liner Notes

When rock hit the Fifties, a lot of sensitive citizens corked their ears, crawled into their woofers and occasionally sent messages to the outside world demanding, “Where is the new good music – and where are the good young singers?” Well, this album gives the answer, for the music was there all the time. Out of the Fifties we have chosen a dozen ballads, including Unchained Melody, Too Young and The Song from Moulin Rouge, to prove that along with The Chicken Scratch and other record-hop pops there were new songs, beautiful by any standard. And the answer to the second part of the question is Sam Cooke, a young man who has developed his own style and sensitivities to a song.

Sam is of the new generation of singers and he generates excitement by going to the heart of a song with simplicity and directness. He has one characteristic that no one can truly imitate or describe. It happens so unexpectedly and it’s over so quickly that you don’t quite know what’s happened, although the effect is lovely and subtle. Listen for it.

This is the second RCA Victor album we have made with Sam and so a few words are in order. He is tall and slender, with looks that remind you at once of Belafonte and Poitier. Although he is only twenty-five, his vocal training began many years ago in gospel choirs and he was a gospel singer when approached to record popular music. At the moment his father, the Reverend Charles Cooke, counseled, “God doesn’t tell you what to sing but He gave you this talent and you serve Him by using it.” And Sam serves well and conscientiously. At recording sessions he works hard and is always ready for “another take,” although we may stay with it through the early hours of the morning. So what’s new in music – what’s cooking these days? It’s Sam.