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Hard Knocks by Joe Cocker
Released: Jan 2012
Label: 429 Records
Joe Cocker is the kind of Woodstock-era artist ripe for a Starbucks-funded comeback album, something tasteful, organic and produced by T-Bone Burnett. Hard Knocks is the exact opposite. This is the kind of album the singer would've released back in the '80s. The music is sleek like a Ferrari zipping down a Miami highway. The horns on "Runaway Train" are pure "Sussudio" in their punchy efficiency, but the song goes a step further, boasting synthesizers that would sound right at home at Eurovision. Underneath all the gloss, however, Cocker's voice is still as gruff as it has ever been.
Justin Farrar