Dream Boogie


No doubt about it, Peter Guralnick’s mammoth, meticulously researched bio of the late gospel-cum-pop singer Sam Cooke is an awesome achievement, offering a virtual day-by-day reconstruction of the man’s too-short life. But let’s face facts: Great as he may have been, Cooke simply isn’t as iconic as some of the author’s previous subjects (Elvis Presley, Robert Johnson), and slogging through 700-plus detail-choked pages sometimes feels like an exercise in enervation. Despite the fascinating parallel tale Guralnick relates about how the commingling of religious and secular music helped spawn rock & roll, Dream Boogie feels overstuffed — like a five-CD boxed set by an artist with just one great album to his credit.