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From the fifties to the eighties � it's all here,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Definitive Ray Charles (Audio CD)
There are plenty of Ray Charles compilations to choose from - some focusing on a particular era or a particular aspect of Ray's career. This particular compilation is the first to combine his fifties music (recorded for Atlantic) and his sixties music (recorded for ABC-Paramount) on one collection - it also includes a few tracks from more recent times.
The most famous of his early songs is probably the often-covered Hallelujah I love her so. What'd I say and I've got a woman are among the other great songs from Ray's fifties music that are included here. All those three were written by Ray, although he also recorded songs written by others even then. Fans of Ray's fifties music will need to buy a compilation devoted to those recordings - on this set, there are just 15 tracks from this era (about right for this compilation).
It is the sixties with which Ray will be forever associated and which is most strongly represented here. Despite Ray's ability to write his own songs, the two songs for which he is best remembered are both covers. Georgia on my mind is a Hoagy Carmichael song from 1931, while I can't stop loving you is a country song written by Don Gibson. In both cases, Ray did them his own way, broadening their appeal considerably.
I can't stop loving you was one of many country songs that Ray adapted to the R+B style. Some of his fans deserted him, but these recordings gained him more fans than he lost. What Ray showed was the main difference between different styles of music was the presentation - not the songs themselves. His re-interpretations of country songs are represented here by tracks 1 to 7 and track 9 of CD 2. Actually, he'd dabbled with the idea in the fifties, as his cover of I'm movin' on (CD 1, track 13) shows.
Among his other great recordings of the sixties are Baby it's cold outside (a duet with Betty Carter), Hit the road Jack (with Margie Hendrix), That lucky old sun, Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby.
After the sixties, Ray's success was limited, but he still had the talent. In 1984, he recorded a country album of duets with various country singers - it really was a country album, unlike his sixties covers. That album is represented here by Seven Spanish angels - a duet with Willie Nelson. Other (non-country) duets from the eighties are also included - Shake your tailfeather (with the Blues brothers) and I'll be good to you (with Chaka Khan).
The collection closes with an outstanding cover of Imagine, recorded for a French TV commercial in the late nineties.