Joe Cocker's Black Eye Blues track was taken off his 1972 album. Released as Something to Say in Europe but eponymously titled Joe Cocker in the US. This track showcases Cocker's distinctive vocals adding a gritty vibrato to anchor the track. Cocker was, in the early part of his career, when playing pubs in his hometown of Sheffield as Vance Arnold and the Avengers, heavily influenced by Ray Charles and Chuck Berry. He later, however, became increasingly enamoured with the blues, especially artists featured on this playlist, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf. Black Eye Blues is undoubtedly a nod of respect to these blues legends. By 1972 when this song was released Cocker had undertaken a self-imposed, almost two-year, hiatus from the music industry. This followed an eight-year rollercoaster of highs and lows that included supporting the Rolling Stones on tour, performances at iconic Woodstock and Isle of Wight Festivals and gruelling tour schedules of the US. The result of which was complete exhaustion, depression and a battle with alcoholism. Some say his personal battles gave his voice the necessary emotional resonance to really convey the blues, which when accompanied by his idiosyncratic physicality, flailing arms and playing air guitar gave his live performances a mesmeric intensity.
Cocker enjoyed his greatest musical successes when recording covers. The Beatles’ "I get by with a little help from my friends", "She came in through the bathroom window" and The Box Tops classic "The Letter" which he recorded as part of the short-lived Mad Dogs and Englishmen, a touring band comprised of over twenty musicians, that legend has it caused havoc in every city they visited and hotel they stayed in. His voice remains one of the most distinctive within the popular music pantheon.