Friday, January 11, 2019

"Shelter Me" by Joe Cocker

Song#:  2645
Date:  03/08/1986
Debut:  95
Peak:  91
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Pop, Rock

Pop Bits:  The career-reviving #1 duet "Up Where We Belong" with Jennifer Warnes provided Joe Cocker with an opportunity to re-establish himself as a viable solo artist. Unfortunately, his first album after the hit, Civilized Man, failed to generate a single chart entry and the album quickly disappeared.  Undeterred, Cocker went back into the studio to record a follow-up. The album, simply titled Cocker, would be a mix of originals and remakes helped along by five different producers. The song selected to be the first single was this more rock-oriented track and indeed it would do well at Rock reaching #11. It was his first entry on that chart. Despite doing well there, the song just couldn't make any inroads at Pop and it fell off the chart after a month. However, the action at Rock helped the album sell much better than his previous effort and it ended up getting to #50.

ReduxReview:  This track has Cocker outfitted in a full-on 80s rock production and it kind of works. There's not a lot to this song. Both the verse and chorus have minimal melodies and chords so it's the kind of tune that needs to be committed to and sold by the band, the production, and the vocalist. I think all parties involved do the job very well, yet it's a song that just doesn't have the right stuff to make it as pop hit. That was the problem Cocker was having at the time. After the AC balladry of "Up Where We Belong," he seemed to be having a hard time trying to decide which audience to play to. Should he keep along the AC lines? Should he go back to his blues-rock? Should he do more modern 80s pop? He ended up doing a mishmash of them and in doing so kind of lost his audience. "Shelter Me" was a good stab and 80s rock, but it wasn't going to endear him to the masses. Actually, the best parts of the song are the guitar and sax solos on the album version. Those are worth tuning in for.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  Also included on the Cocker album was a song that would become quite famous even though it would not be a hit single. For the LP, Cocker chose to record the Randy Newman-penned tune "You Can Leave Your Hat On." Newman originally wrote and recorded the song for his third album, 1972's Sail Away, which was his first to reach the album chart (#163). It was not issued out as a single, but the song would be picked up and recorded by a few artists including Etta James and Three Dog Night. After Cocker recorded his version, it was decided that the track was perfect for a scene in a film. Director Adrian Lyne used the tune for the famous striptease scene in his erotic drama 9 1/2 Weeks, which starred Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. The movie was a box office dud when released in 1986, but it gained a cult following later on home video. It was a hit in other countries and in the end made over $100 million worldwide. Cocker's song was released as a single, but it failed to hit the Pop chart in the US. It did get to #35 at Rock. In countries where the film was a hit, the song fared much better on the charts. Although the song was not a hit in the US for Cocker, it did become one of his most recognizable and popular tracks thanks to the movie.


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