Love Notes
For the slow jam lover in all of us.

Perhaps the most important recordings of a true American icon.

  • Dec 29, 2008
Ray Charles was clearly one of the giants of American popular music in the second half of the twentieth century.  There was simply no one else like him.  His tenure at Atlantic records began in the Spring of 1952.  Ray Charles' previous recordings at Swingtime records would remind you of the King Cole Trio.  But Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler would scrap that sound and opt instead for a more jazz and blues oriented approach.  The decision would pay immediate dividends.   And mako mistake about it.....Ray Charles had a few ticks up his sleeve as well.  Ray Charles would become a fixture on the R & B charts for the balance of the decade with tunes like "I've Got A Woman", "Fool For You" and of course one of his all-time biggest hits "What I'd Say" which would become Ray's first big crossover hit in 1959.

Now jazz and the blues are not among my favorite genres of music.  I have owned "The Best of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years"  for quite some time now but frankly this was not a disc that I  would listen to on a regular basis.   I tended to prefer Ray Charles a bit later on in his career when he recorded all of those great pop and C & W sides for ABC-Paramount.  But while there are some cuts on this collection that are simply not my cup of tea there can be no denying the enormity of the man's talent.  Aside from the bigger hits previously mentioned,  I also enjoyed songs like "Hallelujah I Love Her So", "Ain't That Love" and the marvelous "Drown In My Own Tears".  The final cut on this disc is simply magnificent.  "Just For A Thrill" was written by Lil Armstrong (Satchmo's former wife) and Ray Charles sings this ballad to perfection.  This collection includes a very informative 20 page booklet highlighting Ray's highly successful tenure at Atlantic records.  I suspect that any reputable music guide would classify "The Best of Ray Charles:  The Atlantic Years" as essential to any collectionof American popular music.  You will certainly get no argument from me.    Highly recommended.
Perhaps the most important recordings of a true American icon.

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Paul Tognetti ()
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on I never could … more
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The Early Peak of the Genius

The singles Ray Charles recorded for Atlantic Records beginning in 1955 are often described as the "birth" of soul. The pianist and vocalist was the first to refine up-tempo gospel, blues, and boogaloo into a highly combustible, era-defining sound—see his superheated "I Got a Woman," as galvanizing an experience as any in popular music. That's where Charles started. Over the next several years, he took the basic notion of soul much further: This collection covers soul in its toddler years ("Hallelujah, I Love Her So"), soul in its heady tumultuous adolescence ("Night Time Is the Right Time"), and soul as the expression of a wise man torn apart by his love for a woman ("Drown in My Own Tears").

Charles's singles have been endlessly repackaged, sometimes in shoddy and incomplete ways—even the three-disc Birth of Soul box has a few holes in it. This twenty-track single disc provides an excellent introductory lesson, focusing on the key charting hits and choice B sides (including "Greenbacks") of Charles's first phase. These outline his development from jump-blues shouter into the architect of undeniably propulsive, quint-essentially American music. To hear the Genius at absolute peak, check out the massive "What'd I Say," the tune that spread his brand of infectious, exultant musical enthusiasm all over the world.

This anthology was released after Rhino carefully remastered Charles's catalog for a comprehensive boxed set; sonically, it's a huge ...

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Performer: Ray Charles
Release Date: July 19, 1994
Label: Atlantic

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