Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again
First Appeared at The Music Box, June 2002, Volume 9, #6
Written by John Metzger
It’s safe to say that Ray Charles is a legend. He began his recording career in 1949, reached the mainstream a decade later with the massive hit What’d I Say, and never looked back — helping to define R&B and soul, while influencing everyone from Billy Joel to Merl Saunders. His latest album Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again marks his first studio effort in six years. Unfortunately, it’s a mixed bag, though, for the record, it does fare better than most of Charles’ output since the ’70s.
The bad news is that several of the songs on Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again — most notably the title track, Ensemble, and Mother — sink into the most blasé of manufactured R&B imaginable, and even a person of Charles’ immense talents can’t save them. Fortunately, these are more the exception than the rule.
That brings us to the good news, which is this: At the age of 72, Charles hasn’t lost his ability to lay down the grooviest of rhythmic workouts. New Orleans borrows a page from Professor Longhair, and he retooled What’d I Say, in the process making it even funkier. Though many of his other song selections on Thanks for Bringing Love Around Again are a little questionable — in lesser hands, they’d be utterly awful — he uses his soulful voice and blues-inflected keyboards to turn them into something worth savoring. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box