In the late 1950s, Sam Cooke recorded for the Keen and Specialty labels and had 16 hits, including You Send Me, I'll Come Running Back to You and (I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons. Then, in February 1960, cousins and Brill Building songwriters/producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore signed a deal with RCA to produce Cooke for the label.
Eleven RCA albums followed before Cooke died in December 1964—the victim of a mysterious shooting at the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles. Though Hugo and Luigi produced quite a few hits for Cooke (including Chain Gang, Twistin' the Night Away and Ain't That Good News), they didn't quite know how to craft great albums. The early '60s were still days when young artists recorded singles, which were then herded onto albums given a theme.
Clearly positioned by RCA as a young heir to Nat King Cole, Cooke was often forced to record pop songs for older audiences that weren't quite right for his youthful sound and soulful sensibility. And yet, gems emerged during this glossy period. Among them was Hey There, a 1954 hit from The Pajama Game. It appeared on Cooke's Hits of the '50s, recorded in March 1960.
What's especially hip about Hey There is that Barry Galbraith is on guitar and Eddie Costa is on vibes. The liner notes don't say who did the arrangement but the orchestra was conducted by Glenn Osser. As you'll hear, it's fairly addictive, largely because of Cooke's directness and nuanced delivery...
JazzWax tracks: If you're interested in this period of Cooke's, you'll find Hits of the '50s as part of the eight-CD set Sam Cooke: The RCA Albums Collection (Legacy) here.
JazzWax note: For more on Sam Cooke, go here.