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RECORD RACK

Cocker: Off And On

July 06, 1986|CONNIE JOHNSON

"COCKER." Joe Cocker. A&M. Listen to the album's opener, "Shelter Me," for an earful of vintage Cocker: sandpapery vocals, gut-wrenching emotion and soul-shouting urgency. If the rest of the album were as revved-up and on-target as that cut, it would be a definite winner. But there aren't enough songs here that fit Cocker's bluesy post-'60s persona. His version of Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" is well-meaning but embarrassingly off. The song isn't that dated, but Cocker doesn't bring any new, sharply-defined perspective to it. What he does do with the strip-tease swagger of Randy Newman's "You Can Leave Your Hat On" is near perfection. Singing with boozy abandon, Cocker manages to shift from barking command to puppy-love compliance--all in about the length of time it takes for his sweetie to shrug off her non-essentials.

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