The Great (Live) Albums: Sam Cooke’s ‘Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963’

In the studio, Cooke was a skillful pop crooner, voice pouring out onto the mic like melted caramel. But onstage in Miami, Cooke’s instrument is exquisitely ragged, like a guitar with just enough distortion piled on to make its amplification palatably masculine. The Cooke on Harlem Square is recognizable, but also simultaneously degraded and improved.

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