"The way these days just rip along, too fast to last, too vast, too strong..." --Jackson Browne The final recording of Ray Charles, Genius Loves Company, enjoys its tenth anniversary. It is striking to consider that it has been over ten years since the death of Ray Charles, one of the most imposing figures in American music. The music made in the second half of the twentieth century has had a remarkable staying power owing partially to its revolutionary quality and the near frantic dedication of the Post-World War II Baby Boom generation. Charles' contributions to this ...read more
Ray CharlesThe Complete ABC Recordings 1959-1961Le Chant du Monde2012At first glance, it's a mystery. Why choose 1961 as the cut-off point for a collection spanning the first years of singer/keyboardist Ray Charles' lengthy tenure with ABC-Paramount? Extend that to 1962, and even within the 3-CD confines of The Complete ABC Recordings 1959-1961 it would be possible to include the momentous Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. This was the album that gave Charles his place in the mainstream of American popular music, to achieve which he had switched to the bigger ...read more
Handsomely appointed, Concord's Singular Genius--The Complete ABC Singles offers an example of intelligent and succinct programming and assembly in the waning days of the compact disc. This individual items collection were produced during the heyday of the 45 RPM single, which is to say during the time of alphanumeric telephone exchanges. It represents all of Charles' ABC single releases between 1960 ("My Baby, I Love Her Yes I Do") and 1973 ("Ring of Fire"). What exists in between is nothing less than the most important soul and rhythm and blues recordings of the period. Between 1953 and ...read more
Concord's reissue of vocalist and keyboardist Ray Charles' albums for ABC-Paramount, the label he moved to from Atlantic in 1959, is a mixed bag. It includes two winners, The Genius Hits The Road (1960) and Modern Sounds In Country Music Vols. 1 & 2 (1962), a so-so concept album, A Message From The People (1973)--and, in Live In Concert (1965), a stone masterpiece, Charles' all-round best live album. This edition is made essential listening by the inclusion of six previously unreleased tracks from the September 1964, Los Angeles performance at which it was recorded. The reissues are ...read more
The Concord Music group inaugurated a release cycle celebrating Ray Charles' 80th birthday with Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters (Concord Records, 2010). Now, its reissue of Ray Charles Live in Concert, expanded with previously unreleased material from the same September 20, 1964 performance at the Shrine Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles, captures Charles enjoying the pinnacle of his powers. Charles released few commercial live recordings in the 1950s and '60s, when his considerable talent and influence were being most potently felt in American music. Ray Charles at Newport (Atlantic) was release in 1959, recorded the year before. ...read more
Concord records began celebrating Ray Charles' 80th birthday with the release of Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters, a collection of masters recorded during the '70s, '80s, and '90s, when the singer/pianist was largely silent, having forever changed American music in the '60s. These selections, housed in the vault of Charles' RPM International Studios in Los Angeles, were left as skeletons, filled out in preparation for this release by the likes of Keb' Mo', Bobby Sparks, and Chuck Berghofer. What these songs amply demonstrate is that youth is wasted on the young, and that Charles could have held ...read more
If you want a Ray Charles best-of album you've got plenty to pick from, and the run-up to the holiday season often adds another one. But this year's contender, the 21-track, 71-minute Genius: The Ultimate Collection, stands out from the crowd. For three reasons... First, the choice of tracks has a tight, coherent focus. Aside from a 1964 live version of Hallelujah I Love Her So" and a 1972 studio recording of America The Beautiful," all the selections made the R&B Top 10 on original release between 1955 and 1967. Those dozen years represent what many listeners regard ...read more
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