ARTIST: Ray Charles
TITLE: The Complete Atlantic Recordings 1952-1959
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: His only Top 10 pop was What’d I Say, but he had five R&B #1’s (I Got A Woman, A Fool for You, Mary Ann, Drown in My Own Tears, and What’d I Say) and a boatload of other charting R&B hits in the 50’s.
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Night Time Is the Right Time and Hallelujah, I Love Her So both hit #5 R&B
LINEUP: Ray Charles, his band and the Raelettes, with guests like Milt Jackson.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The complete set of Atlantic masters for the Genius, along with some studio outtakes and chatter.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ray Charles was a genius. Listening to his 1950’s Atlantic recordings certify that. He could play the blues, jazz, swing and R&B without a hitch. He had a natural knack for songwriting, rhythm and arrangement. He was without serious peer as an R&B musician in that decade.
What’s surprising for most people not that familiar with Charles’ work is his jazz playing. He brought the blues to jazz (and jazz to the blues, to be honest). While he wasn’t as technically proficient as a jazz pianist, he had a knack for finding a groove, and using his jazz skills he was able to vamp and improvise on blues songs.
There’s a lot of material here, and it’s probably best digested in discrete chunks. It’s in chronological order by recording date, except for the last part which is studio outtakes. If you like Charles, you probably need to hear this whole thing. This is probably a better bet than the individual albums, as Atlantic cobbled them together from various sessions.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: “What’d I Say” was originally a vamp they did at a show when they were short of material. The crowd loved it so much that Charles decided to record it.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No – I mean this has every Atlantic master take!
GRADE: A: It’s long, and the studio chatter takes are disposable. This is Ray Charles and he is a genius!