One of my favourite scenes from the Julie Taymor production of Across the Universe, her vision of Beatles songs stitched into a cohesive tale, if somewhat loosely at times, are the Joe Cocker scenes. In the film, he sings “Come Together” over a series of characters that just…well, ROCKS! If you haven’t seen the film, I suggest it. There are other fine interpretations of Beatles tunes in the film (the Selma Hayek/ Joe Anderson as “Max” version of “Happiness is a Warm Gun” ranks highly here). But as well as Cocker interprets Beatles songs, this review is NOT about Across the Universe as you might already begin to think, but rather, about his latest album, Hymn For the Soul. The reason why Across the Universe is mentioned is because Cocker’s take of “Come Together” is included here as a bonus track in this re-release. And that works well for me as it adds considerable value to a current Cocker album.
Hymn For My Soul is an album of covers that range from Stevie Wonder (“You Haven’t Done Nothin’”), John Fogerty (“Long As I Can See the Light”), George Harrison (“Beware of Darkness”), Bob Dylan (“Ring them Bells”), Andy Fairweather-Low (“Hymn 4 My Soul”), and other notable and significant artists. Well produced by Ethan Johns, Hymn for my Soul is an excellent batch of songs, as we would expect coming from Joe Cocker.
There is the gospel flavour of “Love is For Me,” co-written by Art Neville (of the Neville Bros), which guarantees a sense of song perfection. On the album’s opener, the Stevie Wonder-penned “You Haven’t Done Nothin’,” Cocker so effectively captures the soulful song that you genuinely feel as if he is channeling Wonder.
Joe Cocker has always been a talent that could not be ignored. It is why he has been around for decades. He has pushed successful singles in the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, and even the ‘90s. His inimitable voice, full of soul and passion, has been his hallmark and continues to be as he adds to his lengthening collection of songs and albums.
If you’re looking for a great collection of songs, this is a great stop-off for you. With the bonus add of “Come Together,” you are well pampered.