The Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection

Ray Charles
The Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection

(Shout! Factory)

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11

Written by John Metzger


The second installment in Dick Cavett’s repackaging of his talk show from the early ’70s focuses upon a trio of appearances by legendary performer Ray Charles. Much like Rock Icons, the inaugural edition of the DVD set, The Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection features in intriguing union of guests that shines as much light upon the socio-political climate in America as it does upon its primary subject. In the early episode, anthropologist Margaret Mead discusses everything from whaling issues to the impact of pollution upon the global community to the need to implement mechanisms for controlling population growth, while the final chapter contains an interview with John Lindsay, then-Mayor of New York City, during which he converses with Cavett about the state of the Democratic party and its need for a defining message.

What’s differentiates The Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection from its predecessor, however, is that the music is largely first-rate. Throughout the three-DVD set, Charles performs 14 songs that run the gamut from the slow-burning swing of Oscar Peterson’s Blues for Big Scotia to a devastating rendition of Born to Lose and from a steamy romp through Sam Cooke’s Shake to a pair of grand and hopeful reinterpretations of America the Beautiful. Indeed, Charles succeeded in transcending the challenges that television presented to artists, a notion upon which he comments during his lengthy interview segments. Much like he did with Janis Joplin, Cavett developed an immediate rapport with Charles, which made their discussions insightful and intimate. Throughout the trio of programs, Charles openly talks about his upbringing, his blindness, his favorite music, his approach to singing, and, through a panel-style discussion with Cavett and Dr. Samuel Rosen, the impact that loud noises in the recording studio have had upon his hearing. Taken in total, it paints an intriguing portrait that Charles’ fans will thoroughly enjoy. starstarstar

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


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