Saturday, March 29, 2014

53 The Birth of Soul (1991) Ray Charles

Disc 1

  1. The Sun's Gonna Shine Again
  2. Roll With My Baby
  3. The Midnight Hour 
  4. Jumpin' in the Mornin'
  5. It Should Have Been Me
  6. Losing Hand
  7. Heartbreaker
  8. Sinner's Prayer
  9. Mess Around
  10. Funny (But I Still Love You)
  11. Feelin' Sad
  12. I Wonder Who
  13. Don't You Know
  14. Nobody Cares
  15. Ray's Blues
  16. Mr. Charles' Blues
  17. Blackjack

Disc 2

  1. I Got a Woman
  2. Greenbacks
  3. Come Back Baby
  4. A Fool for You
  5. This Little Girl of Mine
  6. Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)
  7. A Bit of Soul
  8. Mary Ann
  9. Drown in My Own Tears
  10. Hallelujah, I Love Her So
  11. What Would I Do Without You?
  12. Lonely Avenue
  13. I Want to Know
  14. Leave My Woman Alone
  15. It's Alright
  16. Ain't That Love
  17. Get on the Right Track Baby
  18. Rock House (Parts 1 & 2)

Disc 3

  1. Swanee River Rock (Talkin' 'Bout That River)
  2. That's Enough
  3. Talkin' 'Bout You
  4. What Kind of Man Are You
  5. I Want a Little Girl
  6. Yes, Indeed!
  7. I Had a Dream
  8. You Be My Baby
  9. Tell All the World About You
  10. My Bonnie
  11. Early in the Morning
  12. Night Time Is the Right Time
  13. Carryin' the Load
  14. Tell Me How Do You Feel
  15. What'd I Say (Parts 1 & 2)
  16. Tell the Truth
  17. I'm Movin' On
  18. I Believe to My Soul

At some point in your time on this planet you're going to have to sit down and work out how much Ray Charles you need in your life. You might be happy bumping into his music accidentally on the radio from time to time, you might want a tight, one-disc greatest hits, or you might decide you need almost everything he recorded in the 1950's. If the latter is the case then Atlantic have you covered with this three disc box set retrospective which collects all his work from his first decade as a musician in natty box with some liner notes and photos.

Obviously you need some of this. You can't go through life entirely Charles-less, that would be ridiculous. You have to have a copy of I Got a Woman because it's an outstanding song. You need Hallelujah I love her so because it's one of the best songs he ever wrote. You have to have Night Time is the Right Time because it's catchy as hell and perfect and you can't possibly think of having a music collection without the joyous romp that's What'd I say which is probably the best song to play to anyone who thinks no good music was recorded in the 1950's. These are all songs you need in life. The Question is do you need some of the lesser hits here? If you're going to hear My Bonnie sung by someone then why not hear it sung by someone with a voice as perfect as Ray Charles but do you need to hear it at all? And does anyone need to hear lesser tracks like Blackjack and Yes Indeed more than once?

The problem with this box is that while it's a lot of Ray, it's missing a lot of the Ray you want. Georgia on my mind isn't here and neither is Hit the Road Jack which is not only his best song, it's the best song anyone released in 1961. Ray changed music labels several times throughout his career which means sets like this one might look comprehensive but they're really only a comprehensive coverage of his time with Atlantic records. His later hits with ABC Paramount are nowhere to be found.

To be honest this three disc compilation is a bit of a hard slog for the casual Charles fan. His amazing career definitely warrants a trio of discs in a lavish boxed set but only if it covers the entire of his recorded output and has all the hits. Focusing entirely on eight years from one era of his life and including everything he did at the time is kind of overkill.

I'd recommend you track down one of the label-spanning compilations which has all the highlights from this package along with the essential tracks from later in his career.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "All that keeps this collection from being perfect is the omission of Ray's Beatles covers, especially his haunting "Elenor Rigby.""

-I respectfully disagree. I got the impression that Ray didn't really like the Beatles that much, he was only recording their material because it was pretty much obligatory if you wanted to crack a certain market.

So is this just enough Ray, not enough Ray or far too much Ray? Let me know below

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