Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Flawless Albums: #04 - "Fire it Up!" by Joe Cocker - In Memoriam

(Source: Wikipedia)
Over the past few years I've become more and more interested in the music of the British blues that started in the 1960s - probably because it's a lot of the music my dad likes to listen to so it was never totally unfamiliar to me. Hearing that Joe Cocker had passed away aged 70 because of lung cancer just two days before Christmas was very sad. 

Sure in retrospect, it can be argued that his lifestyle definitely wasn't the healthiest and it's not too surprising, but it still was shocking to hear about the news. After all, it's only been 1 1/2 years ago in May 2013 that I've seen him perform live in Vienna in support of his newest album Fire it Up! together with my parents. It was a beautiful show and I remember that the acoustic set he did really impressed me, and that I loved the lyrics to one of his newer songs called You Don't Need A Million Dollars

Joe Cocker definitely wasn't famous for writing his own music, he rose to fame because of his characteristic gritty voice and interpretations of other artist's songs and the way he made them his own; one of the most famous examples surely is With A Little Help From My Friends which is obviously a Beatles song, but still helped Joe Cocker reach the peak of the UK charts in 1968 when he covered it. Call it blasphemy all you want, but to my ears his version sounds just as much as an original like the Beatles version does, if not even more so because I've always known the Cocker version better since growing up. 

Still I'd like to pull your attention his 2012 released album Fire it Up! because it's such a beautiful piece of music full of positive lyrics and reflections on life, and combined with a voice as strong and individual as his, that's all it takes for me to be drawn in. I'm not a person that focuses on genre all that much and I think it's pointless to expect an artist to always stay within the boundaries and limitations of the genre they have started in - I'd rather focus on the music itself. 

I always find it fascinating that as a 23 year old, it's so easy for me (and so many others!) to identify and enjoy the music put out by someone so remarkably older, somebody who has practically lived a whole life before I even existed. In the end I think that if we put aside thoughts about marketing and all that jazz, being able to relate with the words of a song is what really draws us in when it comes to music. Fire it Up! is full of relatable lyrics for me; the words to the songs weren't even written by Joe Cocker, but it's his voice that makes them come alive and gives them meaning. 

If I had to pick favourites from the album, the tracks I'd especially recommend are the title track Fire it Up, the aforementioned You Don't Need A Million Dollars, Younger, The Letting Go and I'll Walk In Sunshine Again.

Thank you for the music Joe, and may you walk in sunshine again. 

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