Ray Charles - Genius Loves Company

Ray Charles
Genius Loves Company

(Concord)

First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2004, Volume 11, #9

Written by John Metzger

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Over the course of his nearly 60 years in the recording business, Ray Charles left an indelible mark upon the face of jazz, blues, gospel, country, soul, and rock ínĎ roll, and although he put his career on cruise control for the better part of the past three decades, there was always something about his inspirational performances that made even his most mundane efforts seem as if they were something truly special. Just prior to succumbing to liver disease in June 2004, he completed work upon what inevitably would be his final album, a series of surprisingly solid duets with an array of peers and admirers that lovingly has been dubbed Genius Loves Company. Granted, the collection isnít in the same class as his finest efforts. The over-the-top string arrangement that graces Elton Johnís Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word; the stodgy reinterpretation of You Donít Know Me with Diana Krall; and the yawn-inducing duet with Michael McDonald on the Carole King/Gerry Goffin-penned nugget Hey Girl all threaten to derail the outing, although the aching sorrow in Charlesí voice keeps even these lesser tracks afloat. On the other hand, Genius Loves Company fares better than much of the legendary performerís latter day catalogue, thanks in part to some rather inspired and interesting collaborations. From the fiery, horn-splattered treatment that he and Gladys Knight lend to Heaven Help Us All to the spry rendition of Fever that pairs him with Natalie Cole, and from the smoldering blues of Sinnerís Prayer that features B.B. King to his playfully organic ruminations with Norah Jones on Here We Go Again, Charles leaves this earthly realm with a bang instead of a whimper by essentially inviting a variety of new fans to sample from his savory musical stew. starstarstar Ĺ

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47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Record of the Year
Here We Go Again

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Album of the Year

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals
Here We Go Again

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Pop Vocal Album

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Gospel Performance
Heaven Help Us All

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist
Over the Rainbow

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical

47th Annual Grammy Award Winner:
Best Surround Sound Album

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Genius Loves Company is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2004 The Music Box