With a Little Help from My Friends

With a Little Help from My Friends

Due to the songwriting efforts of the Beatles and Bob Dylan, it became important that true rock “artists” write their own material. Yet, what to make of a singer who could interpret the works of Bob Dylan and the Beatles and make it just as artistically intense? Look no further than the early work of Joe Cocker, who had his first hit in 1968 with a soulful run-through of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” (a song, keep in mind, that had been written as the throwaway for Ringo on Sgt. Pepper’s) and whose first album contained two exemplary Dylan covers (“Just Like a Woman,” “I Shall Be Released”). Cocker’s interpretations are strong, insightful and well-nuanced, the perfect showcase for a raspy voice that carries the weight of experience in its well-worn croak. The Animals’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” is delivered as a nightclub slowburner, which, like all tracks here, is supported by a stellar blend of guitar and organ. As for writing his own material, Cocker, with the aid of Chris Stainton came up with “Change in Louise” and “Sandpaper Cadillac,” two strong mood pieces that are augmented in the expanded edition of the album with two more strong, worthy originals, “The New Age of Lily” and “Something’s Coming On.”

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