Sam Cooke with The Soul Stirrers

The First Mile Of The Way

Release: 26-11-2021 | Label: Concord / Universal

BF 21 / 3x 10″ LP

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Before Sam Cooke was an internationally known soul star, he was a rising voice in gospel music, whose smooth-as-silk vocals were perfected in the churches of Chicago. In 1950, the 19-year-old singer got his big break when he joined the Soul Stirrers. The celebrated gospel act, which formed in the 1920s, had recently signed to Specialty Records and was looking for a new lead singer. Over the next six years, the enigmatic Cooke honed his skills as a performer and songwriter, bringing the Soul Stirrers broader appeal and helping them score their first hit single, “Jesus Gave Me Water.”

By the middle of the decade, however, Cooke was eager to expand his repertoire and pursue a solo career in secular music. Releasing several of his early singles under Specialty—including the No. 1 R&B hit “I’ll Come Running Back to You”—Cooke found immediate success. He would eventually score a whopping 29 Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and 20 hits on the R&B Top Ten before his untimely death in 1964.

The First Mile of the Way explores these formative years, offering fans the chance to witness Cooke’s development as an artist. The brand-new compilation, which coincides with Specialty Records’ 75th anniversary, features 25 tracks—spanning Cooke’s years with the Soul Stirrers through his early pop-leaning singles as a solo artist, included here in their original versions without overdubs. As a special bonus, the album includes live recordings by the Soul Stirrers at the legendary 1955 gospel concert at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium—all of which make their vinyl debut. Housed in a triple-gatefold jacket, the three-disc, 10-inch vinyl collection also features a replica promo photo, flyers and other ephemera from the era.


Disc 1:

Side A

  1. Any Day Now (Take 6/Alternate) – The Soul Stirrers
  2. Pilgrim of Sorrow (Alternate Take) – The Soul Stirrers
  3. Jesus Gave Me Water – The Soul Stirrers
  4. Peace in the Valley – The Soul Stirrers
  5. Jesus Wash Away My Troubles – The Soul Stirrers
  6. Were You There – The Soul Stirrers

Side B

  1. I’d Give Up All My Sins and Serve the Lord – The Soul Stirrers
  2. Touch the Hem of His Garment – The Soul Stirrers
  3. One More River – The Soul Stirrers
  4. Mean Old World (Take 3/Alternate) – The Soul Stirrers
  5. He’s So Wonderful – The Soul Stirrers
  6. That’s Heaven to Me – The Soul Stirrers


Disc 2:

Side A

  1. I Have a Friend Above All Others (Live) – The Soul Stirrers
  2. Be With Me Jesus (Live) – The Soul Stirrers

Side B

  1. Nearer to Thee (Live) – The Soul Stirrers


Disc 3:

Side A

  1. Loveable – Sam Cooke
  2. I Need You Now – Sam Cooke
  3. I’ll Come Running Back to You – Sam Cooke
  4. I Don’t Want to Cry – Sam Cooke

Side B

  1. Forever – Sam Cooke
  2. Happy in Love – Sam Cooke
  3. That’s All I Need to Know – Sam Cooke
  4. You Were Made for Me – Sam Cooke
  5. Crying – Sam Cooke
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