Tuesday, October 25, 2011

263. The Genius of Ray Charles. The music not the fans.

Album: The Genius of Ray Charles
Artist: Ray Charles
Genre: Rhythm and Blues
Year: 1959


  1. Let The Good Times Roll
  2. It Had To Be You
  3. Alexander's Ragtime Band
  4. Two Years Of Torture
  5. When Your Lover Has Gone
  6. Deed I Do
  7. Just For A Thrill
  8. You Won't Let Me Go
  9. Tell Me You'll Wait For Me
  10. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin'
  11. Am I Blue
  12. Come Rain Or Come Shine

The worst thing about some albums are the fans. There are bands and entire genres who are let down by their loyal fan base. I know people who won't listen to the Grateful Dead because they conjure images of manic, stoned hippies in unwashed tie dye. Cure fans from my past made me treat Robert Smith's albums as punchlines instead of works of art. It's hard not to think of Lynyrd Skynyrd fans as rednecks who own more guns than books. Hip Hop, Country and metal are all genres which conjure images of stereotyped fans which are impossible to dispell when listening to the music.

Fans of Ray Charles however are... well not so clearly defined.

Ray doesn't have a typical fanbase. I'm sure there's a Ray Charles fanclub somewhere but I have no idea what the president looks like: a middle-aged white woman from New York? A young black economics lecturer from Belgium? A nice old couple from Adelaide who own matching knitwear and a dog named Genius? I honestly couldn't tell you.

Ray's music has been liberated from images, impressions and preconceptions. It's just music captured for future generations to enjoy. Which means picturing someone who doesn't like it is just as hard and picturing someone who adores it. Who wouldn't like Ray Charles? He's got soul, he's got a great voice, he can play the piano and he's chosen a perfect set of songs to showcase his talents. Anyone putting on The Genius of Ray Charles can enjoy a set of great songs that I honestly believe would appeal to hippie, bogan, redneck, academic, metalhead, richman, poorman, beggarman and thief.

It's music so universal you'd have to search for a reason not to like it. And if you find one for goodness sake keep it to yourself because the rest of us are happy to remain oblivious.

Highlight: It had to be you
Lowlight: Just for a Thrill

Influenced by: R and furthermore B
Influenced: Anyone doing these songs since.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "From his secularized gospel crossed with R&B that invented Soul he enjoyed playing and excelling in every from except for maybe Opera."

-The following is a small list of genres that I don't think Ray tried: Death Metal, Polka, Punk, Avante Garde Electro, scottish Highland ballads. I'm sure there are more.

So is Ray a Genius or not? Let me know below.

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