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Joe Cocker's 'The Millennium Collection' Cracks Billboard 200 for First Time in Light of December Death; Great Primer for Casual Fans


Society always celebrates the records that top the Billboard 200 album chart. Back of The Billboards is a Music Times weekly segment that looks at the opposite end: the new record that finished closest to the back of the Billboard 200 for the previous week. We hope to give a fighting chance to the bands you haven't heard of. This week we look at Joe Cocker's chapter in 'The Millennium Collection' best-of series, popularized by his unfortunate recent death.

Week of 01/02/2015
WHO: Joe Cocker
WHAT: The Best of Joe Cocker: 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection
SPOT: 75

The end of the year is always the most sparse for new music releases but 2014 was especially brutal: Perhaps due in part to the new metrics for deciding the Billboard 200, only two "new" albums broke into the Top 200 for "equivalent sales" during the last week of the year. The second of which wasn't even a new album, but rather one that had never appeared on the Billboard 200 before: The Best of Joe Cocker: The 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection. That album now trumps the previous record for "highest-placing last new album placing" at no. 75 (the previous spot was no. 112).

Unfortunately the newfound popularity for Cocker comes as a result of his recent death on December 22, as listeners go back to discover or rediscover his discography. Indeed, The Millennium Collection has everything that a casual fan could want, plus a few extras. Most noted of course are his cover of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends," which went to no. 1 in his homeland of the UK, and "Up Where We Belong," his duet with Jennifer Warnes from An Officer and a Gentleman that won an Oscar during 1983. Both showcase the rough timbre that appealed to mainstream audiences like Tom Waits never aimed to.

Standouts from this set are two Fillmore East tracks that were previously released on the 2006 set The Complete Fillmore East Concerts, which give a taste of Cocker getting riled up with his full band onstage during 1970.

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