.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/0c970c122385f9164aa12cf5f359bdacc5f449b5.jpg I Can Stand a Little Rain

Joe Cocker

I Can Stand a Little Rain

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 0 0
October 10, 1974

Joe Cocker's comeback album is not the disaster his recent debacle in L.A. (during which he was too drunk to perform) was. Whatever his difficulties as a live performer, on record Cocker is far from a lost cause. Admittedly he is not the singer he once was: His voice is ravaged almost beyond belief. But this is what makes I Can Stand a Little Rain so moving. It is a record about pain and decline which, to make its points, cruelly exposes and exploits Cocker's damaged condition.

One example of this is "You Are So Beautiful," a Billy Preston song which, at its end, demands that Cocker reach two high notes he doesn't have a prayer of hitting. He stretches, struggles, quavers and fails; his failure makes the track and the listener hurt, which is precisely the record's intended effect. This is no rave-up in the Mad Dogs and Englishmen manner — the album aches. Far from being a rocker, I Can Stand a Little Rain is slow, moody, depressed and depressing — and deeply affecting.

Even the titles of the tracks reflect Cocker's meteoric rise and fall, his confusion and his breakdown: "Performance," "Guilty," "Put Out the Light," "Don't Forget Me." The lyrics are more explicit: "I fell down on my face / I tripped and missed my start / I fell and fell alone." "How come I never do what I'm supposed to do?" "It takes a whole lot o' medicine, darlin' / For me to pretend that I'm somebody else." The painful pertinence of the material is remarkable because it was written by so many different people (Allen Toussaint, Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and others).

Two cuts attempt to recapture the manic Cocker of old, but both founder for want of spirit. "Put Out the Light" (the single) is cumbersomely arranged, and "I Get Mad" literally sounds as if Cocker is vomiting. More typical of the album is the title track by producer/arranger Jim Price and Webb's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress." The first of these deals with Cocker's bid to return to the limelight and climaxes as Cocker groans,. "And when I'm on my last goround / I can stand another test." Webb's number is the best on the album, an extended metaphor which, if it originally referred to love, in this context has to do with success. Webb's bland piano and the lovely string arrangement are in jarring contrast to Cocker's tormented vocal, and the discrepancy between voice and arrangement further accentuates Cocker's alienation.

A note on the jacket, "Special Thanks to Joe Cocker," suggests that Cocker was out of it while the album was being recorded. Indeed at times he seems to have been propped up and plugged into Price's production. But the distance between his vocals and music simply dramatizes Cocker's plight, and the suffering in his voice is so intense that no setting could enhance or dilute it.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Nightshift”

    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com