Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Ray Charles

Live in Concert

Concord Music Group

Often, you don’t realize the significance of some albums until years after they have faded from the charts. This Ray Charles album fits in that category; in 1965 it was just another live album from an up-and-coming Soul musician. In retrospect, it stands as a major turning point in the acceptance of Blues, Gospel, and Soul by mainstream America, and this extensive re-mastered re-issue nearly doubles the musical content of the original.

With a piano and solid brass line full of double-quoted nicknames like “Keg” and “Hank” and “Hog,” Mr. Charles pumps out a variety of styles — “I Got a Woman” is upbeat blues, “That Lucky Old Sun ” takes the blues riff to a downbeat mind, “Baby, Don’t You Cry” is a jazzy love song, and ‘Two Ton Tessie” is a jazz novelty with a brothel back beat and vocal support from Ray’s “Raettes.” If you dig around the ‘net, you can see what was on the original vinyl and what’s on this digital platter. The big bonus is a complex, superbly executed “Georgia on My Mind.” Eventually this became his signature tune, and here you can revel in its raw appeal. “What I Say” is the other major addition to the collection, and its silly nonsensical lyrics hearken to the frat rock sound that would drive a number of 1980s comedies. “Making Whoopee” slows down, and while it leaves off the vocals until halfway through, the arrangement is modern jazz at its smokiest. At one point, you can even hear Mr. Charles inhale as if he’s about to sing a bar, then stop short.

It’s hard to find a wart on this collection; the microphone placement and mix are intimate and use all the dynamics that a CD format can provide. As always, there are useful and entertaining liner notes, although I’m pressed to find a font that small that will render very well in print or on iPhone. Soul and Blues and Jazz — oh my! Don’t miss this, it sounds better than the original, if that’s possible.

Concord Music: www.concordmusic.com

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