Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 08/28/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/28/2000 01:00AM

>Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker isn't feeling his age these days. Sure, a considerable amount of time has passed since he dazzled the hippies at Woodstock with his soulful rendition of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" (and his frantic stage antics). Or since he and Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge and pals barnstormed the U.S. in 1970 on the uproarious Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour (later documented on a live double album and a concert-film). But Cocker, 56, insists he has plenty of performances in him yet. "Look at these blues cats, like Ray Charles, who have been going forever," he says. "As long as I can keep singing in the right key, I'll just keep bopping along."

And judging by his new album, No Ordinary World, he hasn't lost a step. Using his patented, gut-wrenching singing style to interpret songs by the likes of Leonard Cohen, Steve Winwood and Bryan Adams, Cocker doesn't hold back. "I can't do things halfway," he says: "I have to belt things out."

Since last year, he has been touring behind the album in Europe, and starting next month—with Tina Turner in tow—he'll be crisscrossing the U.S. Which will be a sort of homecoming for the Sheffield, England, native: Cocker and wife Pam have a ranch in tiny (pop. 275) Crawford, Colo. The couple like the quiet hamlet so much they opened an eatery there, the Mad Dog Ranch Fountain Cafe. However, soul music remains Cocker's first love, and he still draws inspiration from the masters. "When you listen to Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway," he says, "they stand out more than ever."

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