1963, Music

Ingredients in a Recipe for Soul (1963) by Ray Charles

This record was a big success but, despite some positive reviews, doesn’t have the greatest reputation. (Example: the Allmusic review is 4 stars but really feels like a 3 star review.) The idea is that its source material is [i]too[/i] diverse. I call bullshit.

Once again, Charles shows off his amazing ability to take music that shouldn’t fit together and fit it together. The songs are indeed from all over the place, but in Charles hands they (mostly) sound as though they are his songs; many of these versions – save a couple – feel like definitive versions even if they’re not. (“Busted” definitely is.) Charles and his arranger make most of these sound as though they songs suited exactly to Charles’ particular style of big band crossover soul.

The controversy seems to rest with his covers of “Ol’ Man River” and “Over the Rainbow,” both of which are distinctly different from the accepted standard of how to cover those songs. That’s a good thing! And though I think you can definitely quibble with the backing vocalists, who sound extremely white – and incongruously white in the case of “Ol’ Man River” – I appreciate Charles’ willingness to do his own thing, even on the most famous songs here.

Sure, this record isn’t the first Modern Sounds, but few soul records of this vintage can compare to that record. I’d still rather listen to this than some whitewashed pop version of these songs.


  1. “Busted” (Harlan Howard) – 2:15
  2. “Where Can I Go?” (Leo Fuld, Sigmunt Berland, Sonny Miller) – 3:29
  3. “Born to Be Blue” (Mel Tormé, Robert Wells) – 2:53
  4. “That Lucky Old Sun” (Beasley Smith, Haven Gillespie) – 4:20
  5. “Ol’ Man River” (Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern) – 5:29
  6. “In the Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)” (Leroy Carr) – 5:50
  7. “A Stranger In Town” (Mel Tormé) – 2:26
  8. “Ol’ Man Time” (Cliff Friend) – 2:27
  9. “Over the Rainbow” (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg) – 4:09
  10. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” (Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers) – 4:00
    • Ray Charles: vocals, piano
    • Sid Feller: producer, arranger
    • Hank Crawford: alto saxophone
    • Harold Minerve: alto saxophone
    • Bill Pearson: alto saxophone
    • Dan Turner: alto saxophone
    • David “Fathead” Newman: tenor saxophone
    • James Clay: tenor saxophone
    • Leroy Cooper: baritone saxophone
    • Wallace Davenport: trumpet
    • Phillip Guilbeau: trumpet
    • John Hunt: trumpet
    • Oliver Beener: trumpet
    • Floyd Jones: trumpet
    • Curtis Miller: trumpet
    • Roy Burrowes: trumpet
    • Henderson Chambers: trombone
    • Julian Priester: trombone
    • Keg Johnson: trombone
    • Jim Herbert: trombone
    • Fred Morden: trombone
    • Sonny Forrest: guitar
    • Edgar Willis: bass
    • Bob Thompson: drums
    • Wilbert G.T. Hogan: drums
    • The Raelettes: backing vocals
    • Margie Hendrix: backing vocals
    • Jack Halloran Singers: backing vocals

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