Joe Cocker – Fire It Up
Joe Cocker has teamed up with producer Matt Serletic for a second time to release his 23rd studio album Fire It Up. The pair first worked together on 2010’s Hard Knocks, and this follow-up continues with Serletic’s pristine production. This no-flaws approach doesn’t always seem to work with Cocker’s famous gritty voice. The singer sometimes seems out of place and a bit too clean for this to be a typical Cocker record.
Cocker is probably best known for his cover of The Beatles’ With a Little Help from My Friends and his 1982 duet with Jennifer Warnes, Up Where We Belong. Nevertheless on this album there is no track that compares to, or even resembles these songs or most of Cocker’s back catalogue. It seems Serletic has moved Cocker away from his usual rock and blues music to sounding more like a gospel Tom Jones, with a bit of country thrown in for good measure. The flaw of this album is the fact that Serletic has made sure it has none. Everything falls into the right place and there are no unexpected surprises which has always been one of the main attractions of Cocker’s music.
There are a few stand-out songs here though. The title-track has a fist-pumping catchy chorus, while I Come in Peace shows Cocker being able to express something of actual passion. But apart from these, the rest of the album is hardly noteworthy and any use of his signature strangulated voice sounds forced and painful.
It’s obvious this album has been made for commercial success which doesn’t suit Cocker. This is definitely a case of trying to teach an old dog some new tricks and failing.
Fire It Up is released on 6th November 2012.
Watch the video for lead single Fire It Up here: