Thursday, May 1, 2014

Joe Cocker - Civilized Man

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Civilized Man, the ninth studio album from British singer Joe Cocker. It went to number 100 in the UK and spent nine weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 133.

Side one opens with the title track and first single. "Civilized Man" went to number 58 in Germany and number 49 in the Netherlands. I like the arrangement on this one; it has a hint of danger and unpredictability that lies beneath the surface.

Next up is the cover of the Drifters' 1959 hit "There Goes My Baby". Cocker has a history of taking soul classics and putting his own spin on them, and this one is good example of that. He always puts so much passion into his vocal performances.

Things slow down a bit with "Come On In", an open invitation to love.

Next up is a cover of Squeeze's 1981 hit "Tempted", a song which I know quite well (my wife and I will always sing along to it when it comes on the radio). Cocker's version is very respectful of the original.

The acoustic arrangement on the start of "Long Drag Off a Cigarette" works well as it pulls the listener directly into a very intimate moment.

Side two starts with "I Love the Night", a song that has a very AOR sound to it musically. In going through this album for the first time, this one nags at my memories; I suspect I heard it on the album-oriented radio stations a few times back in the day.

"Crazy in Love", with its country-rock vibe, is up next. The song was later covered by a number of artists including Kim Carnes, Kenny Rogers and Julio Iglesias.

"A Girl Like You" opens with a smooth saxophone and a jazz-like rhythm.

My first impression of "Hold On (I Feel Our Love Is Changing)" was that it reminded me of the 80's ballads from bands like Foreigner.

"Even a Fool Would Let Go" is a cover of the 1974 song first recorded by Gayle McCormick and later by Charlie Rich, BJ Thomas, Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Debby Boone.

Civilized Man is another one of those hard-to-find 80's records, so again I tip my hat to the YouTube community for providing me someplace to give it a listen. While I have always enjoyed Joe Cocker's music, he was not one of those performers I felt that I must-have in my library. I think it is time, though, to change that and to pick up an anthology.

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