Sam Cooke's Keen recordings - now from the 'original master tapes'

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Clark Kauffman, Jul 21, 2011.

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  1. Clark Kauffman

    Clark Kauffman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Looks like we're now getting all of Sam Cooke's Keen recordings, including rare B-sides, issued as a virtual box-set and as separate, downloadable albums with bonus tracks. (No physical release at all.)

    Below is what looks to be an awkwardly worded press release with details that indicate this release, while on the Keen "label," is from Abkco. (Abkco's web site doesn't include any mention of this release just yet.)

    I listened to samples of some of the tracks, and they definitely sound better than most of the public-domain releases out there, but we still don't have "Tribute To The Lady" in stereo, which is maddening.

    Fortunately, though, the box and individual releases do give us stereo versions of some Keen singles that were released as very limited, gold-label stereo 45s, as well as a lot obscure, mono A-sides and B-sides and both versions of "Almost In Your Arms."

    This release release looks like it would plug a lot of holes in some fans' collections, but note that to get certain tracks in stereo you need to download the individual-album release, not the virtual box-set.

    Sam Cooke’s early recordings to be released as ‘virtual boxset’

    Sam Cooke’s breakthrough ‘Reel Keen’ tracks are now available digitally exclusively from ABKCO: "The Complete Remastered Keen Collection" offers Sam Cooke’s early catalogue, sourced from the original master tapes – release date, 25 July.

    Sam Cooke’s 1957 Keen Records debut You Send Me was a landmark recording on multiple levels. The song, written by the artist, was Cooke’s very first Number 1 record and was groundbreaking in no uncertain terms: a pop record by a gospel great that created the template for what would come to be known as ‘soul’. Cooke’s easy manner, bell-clear intonation and truly spectacular vocal ability set him apart from all others in both pop and R&B. This holds true today just as it did at the dawn of his secular career.

    Sam Cooke was very much at home in the recording studio; the 65 tracks he cut for John and Alex Siamas’ Keen label over the course of three years reflect his massive talent at a turning point. Now the authentic Keen recordings of Sam Cooke, sourced directly from the original master tapes, are available for digital download.

    Sam Cooke’s authentic Keen recordings downloaded from iTunes, Amazon and all authorized digital E-tailers offer an unparalleled listening experience. The series includes a virtual box set, (the equivalent of 3 CDs) containing Cooke’s complete Keen recordings. Separately, the series includes four of his originally released Keen LPs with multiple bonus tracks.

    As always, ABKCO assures the consumer the very best audio quality thanks to painstaking research that has yielded tracks from the original tape reels from which the Keen albums and singles were mastered in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    This virtual box set titled, "Sam Cooke: The Complete Remastered Keen Collection" is a three-volume compilation that offers the Sam Cooke aficionado the unique opportunity to download all of Cooke’s Keen album and single tracks for a comprehensive overview of his time at the label.

    The first volume of the set offers 23 tracks, 13 of which are the content of Cooke’s 1958 LP debut for Keen, simply titled "Sam Cooke." The album’s other ten tracks are singles presented in mono as originally recorded and released. Beyond ‘You Send Me,’ the set includes ‘Summertime (Part 2),’ ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’,’ ‘That Lucky Old Sun,’ ‘(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons,’ ‘You Were Made For Me,’ ‘Desire Me,’ and ‘Almost In Your Arms (Love Song From ‘Houseboat’).’

    The second volume in the set includes the 1958 album, "Encore," in its entirety, as well as all the tracks from Cooke’s 1959 salute to Billie Holiday, "Tribute To The Lady," again, in mono as originally recorded and released.
    Among the collection’s 24 tracks are ‘Along The Navajo Trail,’ ‘Mary, Mary Lou,’ ‘When I Fall In Love,’ ‘I Cover The Waterfront,’ ‘Today I Sing the Blues,’ ‘God Bless The Child,’ ‘I’ve Gotta Right To Sing The Blues,’ ‘Good Morning, Heartache,’ and ‘T’aint Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do).’

    The set’s third volume is an 18-track collection comprised mostly of singles and selections that appeared on hit collections and various artist compilations. These tracks, with the exception of ‘Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha’ and ‘With You’ are in mono and also include ‘Only Sixteen,’ and ‘(What a) Wonderful World,’ written by Cooke along with Lou Adler and Herb Alpert who were on staff at Keen.

    Rarely heard songs include ‘Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh,’ ‘No One (Can Ever Take Your Place),’ plus, ‘I Thank God,’ ‘Deep River,’ ‘That’s Heaven To Me,’ and ‘Steal Away,’ the four gospel tracks that were released on Keen’s gospel artist compilation LP, "I Thank God."

    Also released concurrently with the virtual box set are the individual Keen albums, with bonus tracks. They include "Sam Cooke," the 13-track 1958 label debut, "Encore," also from that year with 12 original tracks and the bonus ‘Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh’ in stereo. 1960’s "Hit Kit" features fan favorites ‘Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha,’ ‘Win Your Love For Me,’ and two versions of ‘ Lonely Island’ (the single version of which is included as one of three bonus tracks).

    Of special note are rare stereo versions of ‘Little Things You Do’ and ‘Let’s Go Steady Again.’ Last but not least is "The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke," that, of course includes ‘(What A) Wonderful World,’ as well as ‘Summertime (Part I),’ ‘There I’ve Said It Again’ and three bonus tracks.

    Sam Cooke: The Complete Remastered Keen Collection (virtual box-set)

    ‘Disc’ One
    Tracks 1 to 13 are the "Sam Cooke" LP from 1958. Tracks 14 to 23 are singles, all in mono:
    1) You Send Me
    2) The Lonesome Road
    3) Tammy
    4) Ol’ Man River
    5) Moonlight In Vermont
    6) Canadian Sunset
    7) Summertime (Part 2)
    8) Around The World
    9) Ain’t Misbehavin’
    10) The Bells Of St. Mary’s
    11) So Long
    12) Danny Boy
    13) That Lucky Old Sun
    14) (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons (KEEN single 4002 A – 1957)
    15) Desire Me (KEEN single 4002 B – 1957)
    16) You Were Made For Me (KEEN single 4009 A – 1957)
    17) Lonely Island (KEEN single 4009 B – 1957)
    18) Stealing Kisses (KEEN single 2005 A – 1958)
    19) All Of My Life (KEEN single 2005 B – 1958)
    20) Win Your Love For Me (KEEN single 2006 A – 1958)
    21) Almost In Your Arms (Love Song From ‘Houseboat’) (KEEN single 2006 B – 1958)
    22) Love You Most Of All (KEEN single 2008 A – 1958)
    23) Blue Moon (KEEN single 2008 B – 1958)

    ‘Disc’ Two
    Tracks 1 to 13 are the "Encore" LP from 1958. Tracks 14 to 24 are the "Tribute To The Lady" LP (KEEN A-2004) from 1959, all in mono:
    1) Oh, Look At Me Now
    2) Someday
    3) Along The Navajo Trail
    4) Running Wild
    5) Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive
    6) Mary, Mary Lou
    7) When I Fall In Love
    8) I Cover The Waterfront
    9) My Foolish Heart
    10) Today I Sing The Blues
    11) The Gypsy
    12) It’s The Talk Of The Town
    13) God Bless The Child
    14) She’s Funny That Way
    15) I’ve Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
    16) Good Morning, Heartache
    17) T’aint Nobody’s Bizness (If I Do)
    18) Comes Love
    19) Lover Girl (Man)
    20) Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
    21) Lover Come Back To Me
    22) Solitude
    23) They Can’t Take That Away From Me
    24) Crazy In Love With You

    ‘Disc’ Three
    All are mono save for two tracks. Please note that two of the mono tracks, ‘Little Things You Do’ and ‘Let’s Go Steady Again,’ appear in stereo on the individual release of "Hit Kit." Tracks on the box set reflect the audio of the singles:
    1) Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha (stereo version/KEEN single 2018 A – 1959)
    2) Little Things You Do (KEEN single 2018 B – 1959)
    3) Ee-Yi-Ee-Yi-Oh (KEEN single 2122 B – 1960)
    4) Only Sixteen (KEEN single 2022 A – 1959)
    5) Let’s Go Steady Again (KEEN single 2022 B – 1959)
    6) Summertime (Part 1) (KEEN single 2101 A – 1959)
    7) There I’ve Said It Again (KEEN single 2105 A – 1959)
    8) One Hour Ahead Of The Posse (KEEN single 2105 B – 1959)
    9) No One (Can Ever Take Your Place) (KEEN single 2111 B – 1960)
    10) (What A) Wonderful World (KEEN single 2112 A – 1960)
    11) Lonely Island
    12) With You (stereo version/KEEN single 2117 A – 1960)
    13) So Glamorous (KEEN single 2118 A – 1960)
    14) Steal Away (KEEN single 2118 B – 1960)
    15) I Thank God (KEEN single 2117 B – 1960)
    16) Deep River (from KEEN various gospel artists LP I Thank God LP)
    17) That’s Heaven To Me
    18) Steal Away (album version from the "I Thank God" LP)
    Hep Alien likes this.
  2. 120dB

    120dB Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    They're really "missing the boat" if they don't do this on CD (preferably SACD) and vinyl.
    Fans like me would potentially shell out three figures for a well-done box set. I wouldn't pay
    a thin dime to download lossy files. Wonder who came up with a business model that sells much-coveted Baby Boomer music ONLY in a despised Tweener format? Pure genius marketing.
    Maybe they could also pre-lease the next Justin Bieber album to release ONLY as shellac 78 r.p.m.
    Hep Alien likes this.
  3. Clark Kauffman

    Clark Kauffman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not only will there be no physical release of these recordings, it looks like distribution of the downloadable tracks is restricted on all the sites I have visited: No availability to people in the U.S. and Canada. (The 2003 Abkco SACD release of the Keen album "Tribute To The Lady" was restricted in the same way -- no North American sales due to the fact that Abkco doesn't control the Keen catalogue in the U.S. and Canada.)

    This explains why all the press information on this release is coming out of the UK.
  4. Khojem

    Khojem Forum Resident

    Irvine, CA, USA
    Interesting! I wonder if they were finally able to release the official mono single version of Lonely Island? As we know, just because it says it's the single version doesn't mean it is.

    I also think they missed the boat here by not including all of the tracks on CD. Why bother with using the original master tapes if the tracks are all destined to be encoded in MP3 format? Are they transferring everything to hi-rez formats first? One hopes so but who knows?

    MEMPHISSUN Forum Resident

  6. Clark Kauffman

    Clark Kauffman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I think the single mix of "Lonely Island" is a safe bet since it's on the box set twice, as separate tracks -- once as a single, and once as an album track. They seem to have carefully researched all this, as evidenced by the inclusion of really obscure stuff like "So Glamorous" and the stereo mixes used only on those uber-rare gold-label 45s. But, yeah, the fact that there will be no release on a physical disc is really disappointing.

    It seems like the only reason we're getting this and the newly released "RCA Albums Collection" is the recent flood of public-domain packages of Sam Cooke material. It's almost as if Abkco and RCA are only grudgingly releasing this stuff, and then only in bare-bones formats, because overseas companies are eating their lunch with all these public-domain releases.
  7. kingofthejungle

    kingofthejungle Forum Resident

    Jonesboro,AR USA
    It's sad that it takes that to get these companies to pay any attention to this material, but it's good that it makes them do it at all, even if begrudgingly.

    Too bad they aren't doing a physical release, though. Do you know what digital format they are using. FLAC or just Mp3?
  8. Clark Kauffman

    Clark Kauffman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The sites that now have the songs available for download show they are MP3 files.
  9. billdcat

    billdcat Well-Known Member

    If this is being done in the UK, aren't all the pre-1961 recordings in the Public Domain ?

    Why is this set only released in lousy downloads ?

    They missed a sale with me.
    I don't buy downloads.
  10. Paul K

    Paul K Senior Member

    Toronto, Canada
    Lotta whining on this thread...look folks, this IS the future...get used to it...and it's not confirmed if the files will be higher rez or not...
  11. therockman

    therockman Senior Member In Memoriam

    Yes, but they are 96k MP3s, so all is good. :righton:
  12. 120dB

    120dB Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    Not my future, pal. I'll play my mint vinyl through an analog can listen to your MP3s through your computer if that what floats your boat.
    Recordfan likes this.
  13. Clark Kauffman

    Clark Kauffman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yes, you're right that downloads are the future with regard to access, but they represent a step huge backward in terms of both sound quality and packaging, which are pretty important for archival projects like this that are geared toward completists. Hence the whining.

    That said, I do think that if Abkco could have released this on CD and not lost money, they would have. Although it's download-only, the virtual box set still is a sonic marvel compared to the vast majority of CD releases of this same material. The fact that we're also getting a lot of very rare material that is otherwise impossible to find makes the set that much more attractive.
    CBackley likes this.
  14. Hamhead

    Hamhead The Bear From Delaware

    I can see it happening.
    Some PD label in Italy or Spain downloading the set and issuing it.
    If I was back at the shop, I would see a press release for it from City Hall or Quloton.
  15. billdcat

    billdcat Well-Known Member

    I'm sure that some Public Domain labels will use this set as a source
    for their masters.
  16. Revolver

    Revolver Forum Resident

    What a waste.....not interested until there's a physical copy. And I really want some Sam Cooke on vinyl!!
  17. Hamhead

    Hamhead The Bear From Delaware

    Whenever a big box set came out of material that was over 30 years old, a cloned set came out of either Italy or Spain, mostly the offerings from Mosaic and the big boys. I can see it coming out on either Definative or Blue Moon.

    I know that Fresh Sounds (from Spain) issued the 2 Sam Cooke Keen albums years ago.
  18. PeteH

    PeteH Shoes for Industry!

    Way over yonder
    For me, no physical release = no purchase.
    Recordfan and spanky1 like this.
  19. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    It looks like, besides Tribute To The Lady, the stereo mixes of Only Sixteen and Win Your Love For Me (underdub) are missing, as well as any stereo mix of Wonderful World (why do they keep insisting on adding "(What A)"?).

    I seem to recall a couple of other stereo tracks on the BMG box as well, but I'd have to check.
  20. Khojem

    Khojem Forum Resident

    Irvine, CA, USA
    Download only in the future? Yes. But not this group's future. From data I've seen, most CDs are sold to people 35+ in the U.S. The average age of people here is older than 35+, at least according to a well-known independent website research company. I don't see this mostly older bunch of audiophiles here, or elsewhere for that matter, clamoring for digital only, non-physical releases.
  21. Tom R

    Tom R Forum Resident

    Perhaps Sony, who controls for US and Canada will issue their own version at some point.
  22. djej

    djej Forum Resident

  23. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    NJ, USA
    I am not against "download only" in some regards-what really scotches me is that you can't download unless you live in the least if it was an import CD I could purchase it. Most of what I have gotten lately (Kinks, Jam and St. Etienne Uni "Deluxe" sets) I'd be SOL if they were download only...
  24. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    NJ, USA
  25. howlinrock

    howlinrock Forum Resident In Memoriam

    SF Bay Area
    We hope it gets a USA release as this UK only release don't make much sense. At this point I would buy either the physical CD's or the downloads. The unoffical Keen Story was pretty bad sounding.

    320K & Wave :thumbsup:
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