Glossary entry for
The following passage is taken from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's
page on Ray Charles
(September 23, 1930 - June 10, 2004):
Nicknamed "The Genius" for his mastery of every style he tried, including gospel, blues, country
and jazz, Ray Charles synthesized them into one form known as soul music.
"I've Got a Woman" and "What'd I Say" dominated the rhythm and blues charts, "I Can't Stop
Loving You" tapped the country vein, and "Georgia on My Mind" and "Hit the Road, Jack" rose to
the top of the popular charts.
The following from Jim Chiarelli:
Ray Charles is in my opinion and that of many others just about
single-handedly responsible for what we call soul music, the
amalgamation of jazz, blues, and gospel. Gospel is key: that's what
RC brought to the party that changed everything.
Regarding his recordings, unfortunately much of his classic and most
influential Atlantic catalog is out of print, though Rhino has
released two absolutely essential box sets of this material. Some
individual titles are available on individual CDs. His post-Atlantic
material on ABC-Paramount is available only in bits and pieces as
there have been legal hang-ups as to who exactly owns these tapes and
has the rights to release them. Some have been re-issued by RC
himself on small independent labels and are available. RC's more
recent recordings on Columbia and Warner Bros. are spotty, slick, and
show-bizzy. Not his best work and best avoided in my opinion. But
then again, I think John Lee Hooker's recent recordings are spotty and
too slick (yes, including Don't Look Back) and not really worth the
attention that should be given to his older Chess, Fantasy, Stax, and
Riverside recordings. Don't get me wrong: I couldn't be happier that
JLH is selling more records than ever before in his career. He and
Ray Charles are venerated elder statesman of the music and that is as
it should be. I think it's great that their disciples flock around
them to record, etc. But the music that's being made, to me, just
isn't that vital. Like with RC, these records really pale in
comparison to those of his crucial period.
I think we're probably seeing the same thing happening to Van
Morrison: his vital period of intense innovation and ground-breaking
artistic achievement is over and he is kind of settling into a groove
as these men did. Nothing wrong with this -- still lots of good music
being made and to be made and the difference is that VM has a rabid
following to sustain him indefinitely (it seems) whereas in RC's and
JLH's day, if one didn't have hit singles, one starved.
Also, VM's entire stage presentation these days, and I daresay since
the days of ITLTSN, is based on the "soul revue" type of performance
that was pioneered by Ray Charles and Otis Redding, and James Brown
and the artists of the Atlantic and Stax/Volt labels: where VM is not
always in the spotlight; where vocal duties are shared among a sort of
"troupe" of back-up and support singers and players; etc. VM has
drawn rather heavily on performance and presentation traditions
pioneered by RC and others.
But I drift...
Essential Ray Charles:
Any of the Atlantic titles including:
- The Genius After Hours
- If anyone likes to haunt the used vinyl shops, seek out the 1959 or
so Atlantic LP Yes Indeed!
- Soul Brother/Soul Meeting (with Milt Jackson)
- Rhino's Ray Charles Anthology single disc compilation includes
Atlantic and ABC-Paramount material. All Ray's big hits.
And the Rhino anthologies/box sets including Atlantic material:
- The Birth of Soul -- three or four CDs, absolutely staggering stuff
and listening to it, it becomes painfully obvious from whence VM got
his ITLTSN-era soul shouting modus operandi.
- Blues + Jazz -- two CDs, some overlap here from Birth of Soul so
don't buy both without considering how much material you're willing to
pay for twice.
Other must-hear RC:
- Genius + Soul = Jazz (RC on vocals and hammond organ backed by the
Count Basie Orchestra arranged by Quincy Jones -- astounding!
Recorded on the early 60s and originally released on the Impulse!
label, now on some small independent label out of California.)
- Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (On Rhino. His
best-known and most popular ABC-Paramount album includes the hits "I
Can't Stop Loving You" and "Busted" plus some additional material,
More information available at:
Van references in:
Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website