Ray Charles: Singing in the Rain 

28th December 2016

Title: In Person

Label: Vinyl Lovers

Charles is heard here (mostly but not exclusively) in the Morris Brown College’s Herndon Stadium in Atlanta on 28 May 1959 (but the LP was released in 1960), one of the very first open air festivals in history (and it just had to rain, didn’t it?)  Also on the poster for the festival was the likes of B.B. King, The Drifters, Ruth Brown, Buddy Johnson and more. The LP does a good job in projecting the energy of both Charles and his supporting players alongside the obvious excitement and enthusiasm of the audience. Those players included David “Fathead” Newman (tenor sax), Edgar Willis (bass), Bennie “Hank” Crawford on baritone, Lee Harper and Marcus Belgrave on trumpets plus the female vocal quartet, the Raelettes.

The general terms, the sound level is balanced nicely. You can hear the audience and their responses draw you into the concert but they never become too dominant or destroy the music (which is, after all, the point of buying the LP). In audiophile terms you can be picky. The distance between your ears and the audio on this LP seems extended, you feel that you’re standing that bit further back from the action while there is a slight lack in terms of impact. The issue here is the microphone placement. The recording relied on a single microphone that hung about the concert stage so that music recorded where it touched, as it where, giving the LP a sense of a superior bootleg.

I assume that this recording is mono but I couldn’t see any mention on it in the closely packed liner notes on the rear of the sleeve. It would have been nice to have known what the mono source was and how it was transferred. Especially as DMM mastering has been utilised.

Nevertheless, there are many splendid performances here including a groovy and rolling What’s I Say, the gospel-esque Yes Indeed! (actually recorded on 5 July 1958) and the extra cuts, I Got A Woman and Swanee River Rock, both from the 1958 Newport concert.