Joe Cocker & The Grease Band – With a Little Help from My Friends (1969)

Eloise Bradbury

Reigate Grammar School, aged 13

I enjoyed this album, but one tiny thing (and maybe it’s just me) but some of the songs are pretty long. Like “With a Little Help from My Friends” and “Cry Me a River”, but I still enjoyed them.

I recognised the song  “With a Little Help from My Friends”. It sounded a bit like a song you would find in a movie, particularly the chorus and start of the song.

There were a real mix of songs –  upbeat dance songs like “Feelin’ Alright” and also lots of songs that are calm and more relaxing. 

If you’re into music that has a pop rock, old music feel this would be a great album for you!

Another thing I noticed and liked in a few of the songs were Joe Cocker’s voice, which is very powerful, but also the back up vocals which I think really added to the songs.

Ian Davies

Former DJ and possessor of one of the largest collection of LPs in south-west London

Joe Cocker was a revelation when he burst into my consciousness. This son of Sheffield gave gurning, agonised, performances. Wild haired, grandad vested and playing aggressive air guitar, Joe was worlds away from the neat uniformed 60s combos and their trite ditties. Hearing this debut album afresh, it has lost none of its impact on me. The passion and originality is writ large.

The title is apt given that he drew on famous company for both the writing and the playing. But this is not to dismiss the originality and energy he brought to every song. Indeed Joe’s reforging of the title track is arguably the definitive version, putting guts into what was The Beatles rather whimsical original. In all, the album has ten tight tracks, encompassing the 1926 standard Bye Bye Blackbird, two Bob Dylan numbers, a fresh take on a Nina Simone track popularised in Britain by The Animals and more. Of the three self-penned numbers, probably only his first hit single Marjorine, bears close scrutiny but the voice remains crucial throughout.

I didn’t realise it at the time but the album is peppered with heroes playing, Jimmy Page, Albert Lee, and Steve Winwood among them. Cocker chose his musicians and producers wisely, and the proof is in the vinyl. I think that Cocker gargled with gravel and had the licks of an ancient bluesman; a unique talent and sadly missed.

Kingston link:

Joe Cocker & The Grease Band played at The Toby Jug in Tolworth on 17/11/1968, a few months prior to the release of this record.

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