The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960 - CD Box Set
The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960 - CD Box Set

The Complete Keen Years: 1957-1960 - CD Box Set

Sam Cooke
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  • Pre-Order Now:  Release Date 24th January 2020
  • Format:  5 x CD
  • Label:  ABKO

The Complete Keen Years collects Sam Cooke’s early body of work as a secular artist after a glorious six-year run fronting the Soul Stirrers. His voice had become the dominant force in the gospel sales prior to the release of “You Send Me” and ‘Summertime.” He was destined to become a major force in pop just as he had been in gospel.

While this newly re-mastered collection includes standards and hits that had been associated with artists who came before Sam Cooke, Sam’s fresh approach made the repertoire his own and helped shape his own song-writing skills in a very tangible way.

Within this period, Sam Cooke defined himself as a voice ahead of his time. His album debut Sam Cooke (self-titled, also known as Songs by Sam Cooke) was released in 1958, Encore followed quickly. It was absent any Sam Cooke originals and the cover depicted Sam swinging with jazz musicians behind him, an honest depiction of what was in the grooves of the LP within.

Cooke’s 1959 album Tribute To The Lady is just that, a tribute to Billie Holiday, a/k/a ‘Lady Day.’ This session was recorded in stereo and reimagines Billie Holiday’s catalogue as Sam’s own. Hit Kit, also released in 1959, is a collection of his hits from this period, most of which were originals. Cooke’s fifth album from this prolific time, The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke contains the original hit recording of “(What A) Wonderful World,” from his last session for Keen.

Sam Cooke found his voice not by imitating popular singers but, rather, by his own singular interpretations of songs made notable by others. The thoughtful essay by Michael Corcoran that is included with this collection underscores this fact and suggests that Tribute To The Lady specifically offers an essential look at how Sam Cooke found his voice.

“Like Lady Day, Sam had a pretty voice too honest to be cute, sending the words on paper through a spiritual journey before coming out of a mouth fluent in both sorrow and triumph. But he didn’t sing songs her way. Sam Cooke put every note in a place all his own.”

  • Complete collection of Sam Cooke’s LPs + singles – remastered from original Keen archives
  • Available for the first time from original Keen/Rex archives, the first three studio albums in the original complete format
  • ‘Tribute To The Lady’ contains both mono and the very rare stereo mix and is the only full length album on Keen to appear in true stereo
  • Sam Cooke’s two compilation albums contain bonus material very rare stereo mixes- non-LP single A and B sides: 15 bonus songs in total!
  • Includes hit records – You Send Me, Only Sixteen, (What A) Wonderful World, You Were Made For Me, (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons & many more…
  • Box set of five CDs – with restored original artwork
  • Also includes a full-colour booklet with a new essay by Grammy-nominated author Michael Corcoran
  • Features rare, previously-unseen photos from the Keen archives by William Claxton


  • CD1 – Sam Cooke: Keen A-2001 (mono) released January 1958 – Billboard’s Best-Selling Pop LP’s HCP #16 (3/10/58) – Produced by “Bumps” Blackwell
  • CD2 – Encore: Keen A-2003 (mono) released November 1958 – Produced by “Bumps” Blackwell
  • CD3 – Tribute To The Lady: Keen A-2004 (mono) Keen S-2004 (stereo) released April 1959 – Arranged & conducted by Rene Hall
  • CD4 – Hit Kit: Keen 86101 (mono) released October 1959
  • CD5 – The Wonderful World Of Sam Cooke: Keen 86106 (mono) released October 1960