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Gravelly voiced Joe Cocker might not have been blessed with the cutest face in pop music, but he has been blessed with a stunning and captivating voice, which can make you go all quivery. His gruff soulful tones have been enjoyed for twenty years or so and this best of album is a good place to explore his sounds. Comprising sixteen tracks, we commence with the anthemic 'Unchain My Heart' which finds Cocker on fine soulful form, lamenting his love woes and managing to delve into the depths of passion in his voice from all angles.
'You Can Leave Your Hat On' has been made famous by the Tom Jones version in 'The Full Monty.' Cocker brings to the song a certain beastly readiness and rawer edge. This is a version for people who like their strippers even rougher! If you fancy something with a less showtune kind of edge, then 'When The Night Comes' delivers an expressive vocal and a rousing melody with a buoyant piano which drives it with conviction. Cocker's vocals are assured and husky as usual and the song will make you feel empowered.
'Up Where We Belong' is that well known soppy ballad with he sings about eagles flying and mountains being high. The lyrics might be trite, but the sentiment is in the right place and his keen vocals inject a real gory undercurrent into the song.
One of my personal faves is 'Now That The Magic Is Gone,' which is a great piece of music for anyone who feels stranded and confused in their relationship. Cocker ploughs into the jaded side of love and sings of heartache and pain with sincerity. His take on 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word' is an other exercise in soulful blues singing the way.
'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' might be a cover too many, though is helped by a gutsy vocal turn and a bluesier twist that other versions available, though to me it seems too obvious a choice of song to include. Head instead to the rippling 'When A Woman Cries' which serves up a potent blend of stirring blend of gruff vocals and tempered pianos, as Joe gets his teeth into a Joshua Kadison track.
This album is a good starting place for people wishing to explore his music, though there are a lot of covers.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Unchain My Heart
2 You Can Leave Your Hat On
3 When The Night Comes
4 Up Where We Belong
5 Now That The Magic Has Gone
6 Don't You Love Me Anymore
7 I Can Hear The River
8 Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
9 Shelter Me
10 Feels Like Forever
11 Night Calls
12 Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
13 Now That You're Gone
14 Civilised Man
15 When A Woman Cries
16 With A Little Help From My Friends