Ain't That Good News (album)

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Ain't That Good News
Cooke samAintthatGoodNews.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 1, 1964
RecordedFebruary 28, 1963 – January 30, 1964
Music Center of the World
(Hollywood, California)
GenreR&B, soul, pop[1]
LabelRCA Victor
ProducerHugo & Luigi
Sam Cooke chronology
3 Great Guys
Ain't That Good News
Sam Cooke at the Copa
Singles from Ain't That Good News
  1. "Another Saturday Night"
    Released: April 2, 1963
  2. "(Ain't That) Good News"
    Released: January 22, 1964
  3. "Good Times"
    Released: July 9, 1964
  4. "Tennessee Waltz"
    Released: July 9, 1964
  5. "A Change Is Gonna Come"
    Released: December 22, 1964
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[2]
Melody Maker4.5/5 stars[3]
Q4/5 stars[4]

Ain't That Good News is the thirteenth and final studio album by American R&B and soul singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released March 1, 1964, on RCA Victor Records,[1] in both mono and stereo, LPM 2899 and LSP 2899.[5] Recording sessions for the album took place at RCA Victor's Music Center of the World Studio in February and December 1963 and January 1964. The cover photo was taken by American photographer Wallace Seawell. Ain't That Good News was the final album to be issued during Cooke's lifetime, before his death at the age of 33. With the exception of "Another Saturday Night", which had been released as a single early in the previous year, Ain't That Good News comprised the first material that Cooke had recorded in the six months following the drowning death of his 18-month-old son Vincent.[6]

As the first album that Cooke recorded and released under his new contract with RCA, Ain't That Good News reached #34 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart. The album is most memorable for Cooke's most well-known and signature song "A Change Is Gonna Come". Though only a modest hit for Cooke in comparison with his previous singles, the song came to exemplify the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s.[6] The song has gained in popularity and critical acclaim in the decades since its release. By the time of its release, five of the tracks on Ain't That Good News had already or would later be released as singles. Ain't That Good News was reissued in hybrid CD/Super-Audio CD format by ABKCO Records in June 2003 with full music and session credits.[5]


A record that featured one side of harder soul numbers and another of mellower ballads, much like R&B musician Ray Charles' Modern Sounds records, Ain't That Good News reflects Cooke's greater freedom in choosing material and sidemen.[6] Therefore, it offered much pent-up emotional and musical expression, which was unique in the Cooke's output. Musically, Ain't That Good News features two sides of different stylistic approaches by Sam Cooke. According to record producers Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti, the first side of the album is "strong and rockin'," while the second side, "ballads....deep and soulful." They went on to write of the album:

In many ways this is a tribute to the developed talents of Sam Cooke. As the skillful and polished performer that he was, Cooke could take any kind of song material and bring it on home to his audience so that it means something.[5]

— Hugo & Luigi

Side one features the nostalgic "Good Times", written by Cooke, and "Another Saturday Night", which he also wrote while touring in England when staying in a hotel room where no female guests were allowed.[5] The rolling chorus of "Meet Me at Mary's Place" was also written by Cooke about a gospel promoter in Charlotte, North Carolina where gospel groups often stayed.[6] The country-style "Tennessee Waltz" is given new life here, while the title track, done out of the gospel tradition, would be his greatest hit until the central number on this album.[7] "A Change Is Gonna Come", with its soaring gospel sound and powerful first-person language, was written in response to Dylan's protest anthem "Blowin' in the Wind" and became one of popular music's most well-known message songs, as well as Sam Cooke's signature recording[6]

Following the centerpiece are orchestrated ballads and standards that are arranged by conductor René Hall. Cooke gives the Irving Berlin tune, "Sittin' in the Sun", a powerful reading as he does with "Home". Ending on a somber and emotional note, the album closes with Sam Cooke's rendition of the traditional Appalachian ballad "The Riddle Song". According to string section leader Sid Sharp, Sam Cooke started to cry at the line "I gave my love a baby with no crying", which was reminiscent of the loss of Cooke's infant child, Vincent.[7]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Sam Cooke, except where noted.[5]

Side one
  1. "Ain't That Good News"  – 2:30
  2. "Meet Me at Mary's Place"  – 2:44
  3. "Good Times"  – 2:28
  4. "Rome Wasn't Built in a Day" (Sam Cooke, Beverly Prudhomme, Betty Prudhomme) – 2:34
  5. "Another Saturday Night"  – 2:42
  6. "Tennessee Waltz" (Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart) – 3:12
Side two
  1. "A Change Is Gonna Come"  – 3:13
  2. "Falling in Love" (Harold Battiste) – 2:45
  3. "Home" (Jeff Clarkson, Harry Clarkson, Peter van Steeden) – 2:32
  4. "Sittin' in the Sun" (Irving Berlin) – 3:18
  5. "No Second Time" (Clifton White) – 3:03
  6. "The Riddle Song" (Traditional) – 2:30

Chart history[edit]


Year' Peak position[7]
US Pop Albums
1964 34


Release Date Title Peak positions[7]
US Pop Singles US Black Singles UK Singles Chart
April 2, 1963 "Another Saturday Night" 10 1 23
January 22, 1964 "(Ain't That) Good News" 11 *
July 9, 1964 "Good Times" 11 *
July 9, 1964 "Tennessee Waltz" 35 *
December 22, 1964 "A Change Is Gonna Come" 31 9

* – Through a period between late 1963 and late 1964, Billboard Magazine did not publish an R&B singles chart.[7]


Release history[edit]

Since the album's original release, an official reissue of Ain't That Good News came nearly forty years following its initial 1964 release on LP format. The reissued compact disc copies of the album featured Super-Audio and Hybrid format, also known as Super High Material, which enhanced audio quality through the use of polycarbonate plastic. Using a process developed by JVC and Universal Music Japan and discovered through the joint companies' research of LCD display manufacturing, these CDs featured improved transparency on the data side of the disc, allowing for more accurate reading of the data by the CD player laser head. The reissues were fully compatible with standard CD players, and are listed below:[7][8]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States March 1, 1964 RCA Victor mono vinyl LP LPM-2899
stereo vinyl LP LSP-2899
United Kingdom March 1, 1964 RCA mono vinyl LP RD-7635
stereo vinyl LP SF-7635
United States June 17, 2003 ABKCO CD reissue ABKCO-98992
Europe 2003 Universal CD reissue UMG-9907707
Japan July 30, 2008 Universal Japan CD reissue UICY-93546


  1. ^ a b allmusic: Overview – Ain't That Good News. All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved on 2008-10-12.
  2. ^ Allmusic review
  3. ^ Melody Maker review
  4. ^ Q review
  5. ^ a b c d e Hugo, Luigi (2003), p. 1.
  6. ^ a b c d e Johnstone (1999), p. 74.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Allik (2003), pp. 2–3.
  8. ^ Sam Cooke Ain't That Good News Japan SHM CD. Retrieved on 2008-10-12.


  • Ain't That Good News reissue liner notes by Hugo & Luigi, Lenne Allik. ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. 2003.
  • Nick Johnstone (1999). Melody Maker History of 20th Century Popular Music. Bloomsbury, London, UK. ISBN 0-7475-4190-6.

External links[edit]