Straight No Chaser

Is Ray Charles’ Complete ABC Singles box set worth it?

Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles

Concord Records

Oh man, where do I begin? Let start with the fact that there are 106 songs on five CD’s and that every single track is great. Not good. Great. This is also Ray Charles. One of the greatest artists of any generation. He could make you get up and dance one song and then make tears tickle your cheeks the next song. Add in the numerous covers among this collection and you have a must-have box set for any fan of music.

Charles takes “America the Beautiful” and puts so much soul and passion into it, that you could be listening to it in your cubicle at work and stand up with your right hand over your chest and salute the flag with tears streaming down your face. He also puts his trademark spin on John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Sam Cooke’s “Laughin’ and Clownin’” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” And that’s just Disc Five!

Disc Three has a live version of “I’ve Got a Woman” (in two parts) and three Buck Owens covers: “Love’s Gonna Live Here,” “Crying Time” and “Together Again.”

The other discs prove just how truly versatile Charles was. Not only are there dozens of tracks that he wrote or co-wrote, but he covers The Beatles (“Eleanor Rigby”), Hank Williams (“Your Cheatin’ Heart”), John Lennon (“Yesterday”) and even the Gershwins (“Someone to Watch Over Me”).

Do I even need to mention that this has “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Georgia on My Mind?” Probably not because you should already be in the process of getting this set before even reaching this point. Buy this box set right now. It will be the best money you’ve ever spent on music. Period. It’s that good.

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