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'Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection' by Ray Charles

Click to buy at Amazon.com Reviewed by Terry Cochran

On April 7th, Concord Records will be releasing a 21-song anthology of hits titled Ray Charles — Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection.

This volume presents Charles’ most influential recordings for the Atlantic and ABC-Paramount labels including 1954’s “I’ve Got a Woman” plus “Busted,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Hit the Road Jack” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” concluding with his signature 1972 rendition of “America the Beautiful.” All are digitally remastered from the original tapes.

Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection chronicles the high points in Charles’ catalog. As noted jazz writer Don Heckman writes in his 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 gospel songs, country tunes, an American Songbook standard, a Beatles classic and a climactic American anthem. But more than that, it’s what he does with all these variegated numbers. Good singers can 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.”

Ten of the tracks on this collection made it to #1 on the R&B charts and three songs hit #1 on the pop chart. “That may sound like nothing more than numbers,” says Heckman, “but it represents an extraordinary string of successes in which Charles released a Top 10 R&B single in almost every year between 1954-67, and a Top 10 pop single almost every year between 1959-67.”

This amazing album contains 21 of Charles’ biggest hits, each within its own unique history and meaning. “Hit the Road Jack,” penned by Percy Mayfield, a #1 pop hit and a 1961 Grammy winner for Charles, opens the collection. Also included are “What I’d Say (Part 1),” ranked #10 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time; the classic “Busted”; “I Can’t Stop Loving You” from the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which reached #1 on R&B and pop charts; the Bobby Sharp composition “Unchain My Heart”; Charles’ signature rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind, another #1 pop hit and so many more!

Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection will be packaged in a handsome embossed digipack and presented with a 24-page collectors’ book of rare photos and Heckman’s notes.

Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection will be available wherever music is sold, to buy it now click here!

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