Few artists deserve the box-set treatment as much as Sam Cooke. Graced with one of the greatest singing voices in history and a talent for writing songs that seemed touched by God, Cooke transformed the field of modern pop music in the '60s as surely as Buddy Holly did in the '50s. Both Holly and Cooke frequently insisted on writing their own songs, a radical break from past traditions, and both excelled at fusing different styles into a new and exciting sound with wide commercial appeal. Both also died young, leaving behind stunning legacies that nonetheless hint at even greater things to come. As with Holly, label muddles have done a disservice to Cooke's catalog, with several out-of-print albums or unavailable recordings leaving massive holes in what should be no-brainer collections. In the case of Cooke's four-disc, 96-song The Man Who Invented Soul, the compilation is crippled from the start. It features none of Cooke's vital early material with The Soul Stirrers, whose gospel songs were not only an important part of Cooke's life, but also pivotal in his development as an artist. Then there's the fact that material from the last 15 months of his 33-year life is owned by ABCKO, leaving the remarkable "Shake" and (even more glaring) "A Change Is Gonna Come" off this set. No Cooke collection is complete without either of those songs, no matter what the excuse, especially since they're key to the thesis of the collection's title: What's left may be utterly essential, but little here points to Cooke as the inventor of soul. Cooke's nicely remastered songs sound as close to the work of such smooth singers as Nat "King" Cole as they do to such grittier predecessors, contemporaries, or successors as Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield, and Otis Redding. That's no criticism, of course, as Cooke's voice nearly transcends categories: When he croons "You Send Me," the sentiment comes across with so much emotion and honesty that both his gospel roots (guess who "You" is) and his popular appeal are made abundantly clear. It's the two live recordings on the fourth disc, the Night Beat album and Cooke's Live At The Harlem Supper Club, that find Cooke accenting the rawer, bluesier side of his music, loosening up the slick arrangements of his recordings and acknowledging the racially charged tenor of the time with a rendition of "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen." If The Man Who Invented Soul were a bit more comprehensive and diverse, it would better do justice to a man whose career can't quite be so easily encapsulated in a tiny package. Even as it stands, however, it's an awe-inspiring document of a man able to drop jaws with a single song, let alone four discs of them, making it an imperfect collection of perfect material.