Joe Cocker has one of the most unique voices in rock music. Hard Knocks is an extremely personal tale, and the overall album showcases all sides of the veteran performer. Whether it is showing off a fondness for precursor genres like blues and jazz or boldly forging through in new directions, Cocker ensures that listeners will not be bored. The set of musicians tapped to lay down hooks, drum lines, and otherwise accompany Cocker are impressive – not only do they hang with The Grease Band’s lead, they actually upstage eir at a number of points on the disc.
Get On is a track that will be bouncing around listeners’ heads long after the album finishes. If listeners give the album a full spin (rather than focusing on single tracks), I believe that there will be a considerably different context. It is this variety of messages that makes Hard Knocks such an impressive album – listeners will be able to find something new each time they play the disc.
The album ends with Forever Changed, a track that is transformative. It possesses a number of the same threads that have been weaved by Cocker through the whole of Hard Knocks, but it provides listeners with some sense of where the legend will go on subsequent recordings. This track may pack up well before the four minute mark, but the authority that it possesses – the massive arrangements and the inspired instrumentation – punctuates what is already a stellar effort.
Make sure to check out Cocker whenever ey comes to your town; I can only imagine how these tracks will come to life when presented in a live format.
Top Tracks: Hard Knocks, Stay the Same
Joe Cocker – Hard Knocks (CD) / 2012 429 Records / 11 Tracks / http://www.429records.com