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The Birth Of Soul : The Complete Atlantic Rhythm & Blues Recordings, 1952-1959
Genres: Blues, Jazz, Pop, R&B
Though this is not the most recent Ray Charles box set collection, it may be the best. That's because it focuses on Ray's great growth in the 1950s, particularly his days with Atlantic Records. The set opens with Ray still... more »
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Though this is not the most recent Ray Charles box set collection, it may be the best. That's because it focuses on Ray's great growth in the 1950s, particularly his days with Atlantic Records. The set opens with Ray still in a Charles Brown, smooth-voice, mellow-piano mode, but in short order, he discovers his own identity. From the good time of "It Should Have Been Me" on disc one, though the orgiastic "What'd I Say, Parts 1 & 2" on disc three, the man they call "The Genius" rocks, rolls, raises the rafters, and sinks way down low with the blues. This box also features an excellent essay by the late music historian, Robert Palmer. --Robert Gordon
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The Genius Writes His Thesis
Anthony G Pizza | FL | 03/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ray Charles' seven-year tenure on Atlantic Records, represented here by his complete R&B recordings, is as musically and culturally important as Frank Sinatra's tenure on Capitol Records or Elvis Presley's on Sun Records.Charles' music here used basic rock and roll ingridients (blues, jazz, honky-tonk, gospel interplay) to create something more adult, eloquent and sensual than anything the renowned rock n' roll pioneers created. Charles' mixing and matching of styles at first seems impure even now ("Pray with me, boys," he groans as his band dives deeper into the blues "Feelin' Sad," which he ends with a wail.) But his band (razor-sharp after hundreds of dance concerts every year) could play any style, mixing several at once, turning hits like "What'd I Say," jazz workouts like "Mess Around," ancient standards like "My Bonnie," and even his cover of Hank Snow's C&W "I'm Movin' On" into mini-revelations.These years represent the most creative in Charles' career, before his huge Sixties hits made him an American icon. He would never be as creative and profilic as he is here, making "The Birth of Soul" THE essential purchase for fans of the singer or the R&B form."
The essential Ray Charles
bruce horner | 02/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are times when a particular string of sessions recorded by an artist for a particular label is so creatively significant that it marks not only a stylistic synthesis or breakthrough for that particular artist but also a touchstone for a whole branch of music. Louis Armstrong's Hot Five and Hot Seven sides for Columbia come to mind, as do Charlie Parker's Dial sessions and of course Presley's Sun sessions. The singles that Ray Charles recorded for Atlantic Records from 1952 to 1959 are similar, in that they not only mark a creative peak for Charles, but his unique mixture of elements of jazz, r&b, blues, and gospel led directly to the musical style that would be called soul. Thus the title of this collection (The Birth of Soul) is more than just jolly hyperbole but almost literally true. The brilliant synthesis didn't happen overnight, of course, and the second song here, "Roll With My Baby," sounds like an imitation of Nat King Cole. One of the pleasures of this collection is listening to him mature which he does soon enough. The singles are presented in strict chronological order with copious and easy-to-read session information. (Interesting that Connie Kay played drums on his first ten sides, and the importance of reedman David Newman to the band's sound can hardly be overstated.) Discs two and three are pure manna. It's rather startling to be reminded just how good Charles was in the fifties, arguably his most fertile and rewarding period. His years as a top-forty icon and later a soft drink pitchman have obscured his amazing earlier achievement. This well-produced package reminds us of what he SHOULD be known for. Robert Palmer's informative liner notes are another extra in a collection that does everything right---selection, sound mastering, packaging. This is the one Ray Charles set that should be considered essential to anyone interested in 20th-century American music."
A Landmark in American Music
Grant Camden | Arkansas | 12/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of people like Ray Charles for a lot of reasons. This collection is why I love him. It finds Ray defining Rhythm and Blues in the 1950s.
The recordings here represent what I consider his golden period with Atlantic. It is prior to his move to other record labels and his experiments with country and pop standards. This is good old R&B. As I said before, it defines the genre in the 1950s as far as I'm concerned. There are few instrumentals; most tracks include vocals, and Ray's voice is in incredible form throughout, rasping, moaning, groaning, and all. A mention must also be made of the distinctive tenor sax work throughout of long time sideman, David "Fathead" Newman.
The music and Ray's voice here have a visceral quality and richness which waned, in my opinion, after Ray's Atlantic years. Later, although Ray remained one of America's greatest musicians, he became increasingly glossy. This is before the gloss. This music has real soul and lots of it.
I have enjoyed this set more than any music I own. If you would like a serious set of goose bumps and hours of enjoyment, I cannot recommend this set highly enough. I own about 25 Ray Charles CDs. I recommend this set hands down above all others.