Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964

Sam Cooke's catalog seems easily divided into halves: There's the somewhat campy, mainstream-aimed side, and then there's the no-frills Southern soul and gospel.

Sam Cooke's catalog seems easily divided into halves: There's the somewhat campy, mainstream-aimed side, and then there's the no-frills Southern soul and gospel. It's the latter batch of songs that makes him so absolutely deserving of the "legend" title carried by this new, 30-track collection of his best work. It's remarkable how such tracks as "Bring It on Home" and "Nothing Can Change This Love" remain completely timeless and always affecting. The sound is so rich on these impeccably restored tracks that the rejuvenated version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" has the goods to make many a devoted Cooke follower well up. A CD/Super Audio CD hybrid, "Portrait" is being issued alongside fellow hybrid reissues of "Ain't That New," "At the Copa" and "Keep Movin' On," as well as the new "Legend" DVD, a large portion of which consists of previously unseen footage. Together, the four discs—most come with deep liner notes, and each is issued in Digipaks—inflate the soul icon's myth and carry his legacy into the 21st century with class.—WO