Genius Loves Company – Ray Charles and Friends (2004)
January 3, 2008
This cd is awesome. I had purchased a digital version when it first came out, because it was cheaper than buying it in a store and I wanted it so much. I seldom buy digital, because I miss the routine of taking the music out of the packaging and reading every bit of the liner notes, etc. while listening to the music for the first time.
Since Santa did not see fit to give me any of the music I wanted, I got something today called “Ray Collectors Edition”. You see, on the way from the mall food court to my car after lunch today, I took a short cut through Sears. Of course I ran into a giant yellow “clearance” sign atop of a big bin of cds. I guess they were leftover from the Christmas inventory and I was a happy camper to finally find and purchase the “Genius Loves Company” cd with all the paperwork I craved! The book that comes with the CD is exquisite. If it didn’t, it should have, gotten a grammy award! It details the making of the CD and specifics on each song There is also a comment about Brother Ray from each of his duet partners and great photos of some (not all) of the partners with Ray.
This box was only $17.99 and that was a bargain since there were two other CDs inside the hinged tin container with Rays pic on the cover that I scanned for you above. “Ray Sings, Basie Swings” released in 2006 and the 1997 Rhino released entitled “I’ve Got a Woman and Other Hits” rounded out the package.
Here is the track list for “Genius Loves Company”:
*1. Here We Go Again with Nora Jones and Billy Preston on organ! One of my top 6 faves(*). Have a listen here.
Here We Go Again – Ray Charles featuring Norah Jones
2. Sweet Potato Pie with James Taylor. I wasn’t familiar with this particular James Taylor tune, but I can see why Ray selected it. Ray and James blended beautifully together.
3. You Don’t Know Me with Diana Krall. Perfecto!
4. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word with Elton John. You gotta love it. Listen.
Sorry is the Hardest Word – Ray Charles with Elton John
5. Fever with Natalie Cole. Another winner!
*6. Do I Ever Cross Your Mind with Bonnie Raitt – One of my top 4 faves. Bonnie is a match for Ray. She has Skills — with a capital S!
7. It Was a Very Good Year with Willie Nelson – This did not turn out to well. The song itself doesn’t fit in with the others. Willie was not at his best: and we know that Ray was sick. But the arrangement and the voices just did not gel. I love both Willie & Ray as individual performers, but this one just didn’t work for me. It probably should have been left off of the album.
8. Hey Girl with Michael MacDonald. This is one of Ray’s faves and mine too, but I guess I am just used to the bouncier version by The Temptations from the 60s. This tempo was just a tad too slow, but otherwise you can’t hurt a great song too much.(SMILE)
*9. Sinner’s Prayer with B.B. King. Two geniuses at work. Perfection in their singing and jamming on their respective instruments. Simply marvelous!
*10. Heaven Help Us All with Gladys Knight – again two geniuses make perfection.
*11. Over the Rainbow with Johnny Mathis. From Judy Garland to Steve Harris (remember him) to Patti Labelle and now Ray Charles and Johnny Mathis – Fine Fine job! This rendition brings tears to my eyes. The orchestration is glorious.
I recently saw Johnny Mathis on a PBS interview raving about what Ray taught him and I believe every word of it. In this song you can’t help but notice the amazing genius (there’s that word again) in the seemingly effortless choices Ray makes in selecting his notes. You assume he is going one way, but he goes in another direction and it is the unexpected AND YET SPOT ON!
*12. Crazy Love with Van Morrison live. This is the song that started this project. It was performed live when Ray inducted Van Morrison into the R&R Hall of fame June 2003.
Considering that most of the songs were completed in a single day (some 2 days) with a live orchestra is further proof of the genius that was Ray Charles. If you haven’t done so yet do make the purchase.