It Should've Been Me - Ray Charles, Curtis, Memphis
Losing Hand - Ray Charles, Calhoun, Chuck
Heartbreaker - Ray Charles, Nugetre, Ahmet
Sinner's Prayer - Ray Charles, Fulson, Lowell
Mess Around - Ray Charles, Ertegun, Ahmet
Funny (But I Still Love You)
Feelin' Sad - Ray Charles, Jones, Eddie [Bass]
I Wonder Who
Don't You Know
Mr. Charles' Blues
Track Listings (18) - Disc #2
I Got a Woman
Come Back Baby
A Fool for You
This Little Girl of Mine
Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)
A Bit of Soul
Drown in My Own Tears - Ray Charles, Glover, Henry
Hallelujah, I Love Her So
What Would I Do Without You?
Lonely Avenue - Ray Charles, Pomus, Doc
I Want to Know
Leave My Woman Alone
Ain't That Love
Get on the Right Track Baby - Ray Charles, Turner, Titus
Rock House, Pts. 1-2
Track Listings (18) - Disc #3
Swanee River Rock (Talkin' 'Bout That River)
Talkin' 'Bout You
What Kind of Man Are You
I Want a Little Girl - Ray Charles, Mencher, Murray
Yes, Indeed! - Ray Charles, Oliver, Sy
I Had a Dream
You Be My Baby
Tell All the World About You
My Bonnie - Ray Charles, Traditional
Early in the Morning - Ray Charles, Bartley, Dallas
Night Time Is the Right Time - Ray Charles, Cadena, Ozzie
Carryin' the Load - Ray Charles, Pomus, Doc
Tell Me How Do You Feel
What'd I Say, Pts. 1 & 2
Tell the Truth - Ray Charles, Pauling, Lowman
I'm Movin' On - Ray Charles, Snow, Hank
I Believe to My Soul
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 » 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« less
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
"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. "
Great collection - worth every penny
thedevilscoachman | Vienna, Virginia | 12/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Prior to a couple of years ago, I never really knew what Ray Charles's backstory was. I always sort of thought of him as the guy in the Pepsi ads and in the Blues Brothers, and the singer of "I Can't Stop Loving You" - pretty good music, but also in some way uninspired or irrelevant. I was wrong. As this package shows, he was a towering genius long before Pepsi came along. He was an inspired piano player, and he could do it all - jazz, stride, R&B, New Orleans. He had a totally unique rhythmic sense, which clearly informed James Brown and other "soul" artists. Over the course of this package, you hear him shape his voice into an incredibly expressive instrument - he's great both at singing the song straight and adding subtle embellishments to the melody that are dead on perfect (and never overused). Unlike other artists, especially at the time, who were confined to niches, he wasn't afraid to take on all different kinds of styles - from jump blues ("It Could Have Been Me" or "Greenbacks") to New Orleans ("Mary Ann") to blues ("Hard Times" or "What Will I Do") to numbers that mix them all up with jazz and gospel, like "What'd I Say?" or "Talkin' About You." He put together a great band that could play hard-core jazz with as much facility as R & B (Check out his band on his saxophonist David Newman's jazz albums). And finally, it seems to me that he used the studio in innovative ways long before many other artists - like on "What Kind of Man Are You" and "I'm Movin' On." And while his songwriting isn't always brilliant, it is at least always very strong, and he has a good ear for cover tunes that suit him well. Any one of these strengths alone would qualify him as great, but he's rightly called "The Genius" for putting all these things into one package. Highly recommended."
Comprehensive early Ray Charles
thedevilscoachman | 03/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Atlantic Records released 23 singles by Ray Charles from 1952 to 1959 and this box set has them all, both sides, plus 4 other songs released in 1960. The tracks are presented in the order they were recorded, not released, so you can easily hear the evolution of Ray's style from pure blues singer to gospel-inspired R&B favorite. The enclosed booklet documents Ray's Atlantic years including his entire Atlantic single discography. This box set is an excellent collection of early Ray Charles music without any nuisance alternate takes found in so many other box sets."