Vinyl Corner : Sam Cooke ‘Keep Movin’ On’

Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Continuing on from our previous examinations of his back-catalogue, we take a look at a Sam Cooke rarities compilation for our latest instalment.

The Music:

Posthumously-released anthologies can be a dangerous thing in music; too many of them represent sonic barrel-scrapings from the lates and greats of the world, yet in ‘Keep Movin’ On’, Cooke’s estate proved – upon its original CD-only release some two decades ago – that Sam Cooke had more up his sleeve than the general public ever heard in his lifetime. This generously-proportioned rarities compilation may go beyond the remits of any of his mainline studio albums, but it nevertheless falls together into a remarkably cogent whole. Admittedly, it isn’t exactly for the uninitiated but, then again, it wasn’t aimed at newcomers anyway; this is one for the devoted acolyte of the late soul legend and, viewed in the context, it makes a lot of sense.

The Pressing:

Spread over two weighty slabs of black wax, initial signs are promising with this release. As with the recent reissues of ‘Ain’t That Good News’ and ‘Sam Cooke At The Copa’ (which we reviewed for Vinyl Corner here and here) there are some minor visual imperfections on the surface, which appear as the result of the manufacturing process, but none of these have the faintest impact on sound quality in the case of our example. Indeed, playback is reliably impressive throughout this capacious collection; audio is tidy, boasting competent mastering and clean sound free of any intrusive surface noise. We picked up on just a few very minor moments of surface noise here and there, none of which we found to be at all problematic. That’s all welcome news on any account, but especially considering that this reissue represents the first time this particular collection has ever been released on vinyl.

The Packaging:

As those who’ve read our Vinyl Corner articles on the recent ‘Ain’t That Good News’ and ‘Sam Cooke At The Copa’ reissues will likely recall, presentation on both was commendably thorough, if not quite on par with the kind of durable packaging found on vintage US ’60s pressings. The same can essentially be said of ‘Keep Movin’ On’ – albeit with the caveat that, as this is the first time this collection has ever been released on vinyl, there’s no vintage edition for this to stand in comparison to. Despite being a double LP, the cover is a non-gatefold affair wrought from standard, mid-weight cardstock; generally, we do prefer to see multi-disc releases in gatefold covers but, to be fair, the sleeve is sufficiently well-made for it to nevertheless feel reasonably sturdy in hand. As with the other Sam Cooke reissues, a large barcode is printed on the back cover – we would, of course, have preferred to have seen this attached to shrinkwrap as a barcode. None of that really matters, though; ‘Keep Movin’ On’ redeems itself through the inclusion of two printed paper inner sleeves boasting generous liner notes, in addition to images of Cooke himself. They’re a welcome inclusion which lends context to the songs cut into the LPs themselves, ultimately rendering this a tastefully-presented first-time vinyl release of this rarities overview.

Final Thoughts:

‘Keep Movin’ On’ may delve a little too deeply into Cooke’s back-catalogue for the uninitiated but such endeavours prove fruitful by virtue of the sheer amount of gems unveiled here. Enthusiasts – both of the artist himself and vintage soul at large – should find much to enjoy here and, in this long-awaited vinyl release, there’s a rock solid way to hear it on wax at last.

Enjoyed this feature? We’re always looking for further albums to highlight on Vinyl Corner – and if you have a vinyl release that you’d love to see written about here, please get in touch at martin.leitch@gigsoupmusic.com – it would be great to hear from you!