By James Calemine
This 21 song anthology contains Albany, Georgia, native Ray Charles’ most influential recordings for Atlantic, ABC-Paramount and the Tangerine labels after 1960. Ten of these tracks made it to #1 on the R&B charts and three #1 songs on the pop charts.
The CD booklet contains liner notes, rare photos and striking artwork, which only augments the package’s musical power. Each song represents a huge Charles hit such as Percy Mayfield’s “Hit The Road Jack”, “What I’d Say”, “Busted”, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Unchain My Heart”, “Georgia On My Mind”, “I Got A Woman”, “You Are My Sunshine”, Hank Williams’ “Take These Chains From My Heart”, “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and various other popular tunes that evoke fond memories for folks of several different generations.
Jazz writer Don Heckman provides a final word on this fine collection in the liner notes: “The first feeling that comes to mind after even a short glance at the titles included here is a sense of wonder. The diversity of the material is impressive in its own right–blues, of course, transformed country tunes, an American Songbook standard, a Beatles classic and a cinematic American anthem.
“But more than that, it’s what he does with all these variegated numbers. Good singers can’t do great interpretations. Great singers like Charles possess the material in a way that makes a song their own, while remaining true to the essence of each.”
Ray Charles ranks as one of America’s greatest musical pioneers and Genius contains unmitigated proof of his everlasting soul…