Genius at work
coachtim | Indiana, United States | 08/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's obvious from reading the wide variety of opinions on this CD that the musical selections on "Genius Loves Company", like music itself, move people in many different directions. "Different directions" is probably a good way to describe this compilation of duets with a variety of artists produced during the twilight of Ray's great life and career. "Genius Loves Company", in a way, represents a microcosm of Ray's career in that there are plenty of R&B, soul, and pop tunes in this album. While heavy on orchestration, this CD does showcase a cavalcade of great performers including Elton John, Michael McDonald, James Taylor, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, BB King, and Johnny Mathis. Ray shares the stage well with these performers and allows them to have their moments to shine on the album.
The idea for this album actually sprang from a live collaboration between Ray and Van Morrison on "Crazy Love", which is the last selection on the disk. Though it's obvious that Ray was losing some of his volume and range in this album (he was 73 at the time of most of the recording), he is still in fine form and shines on cuts with Knight ("Heaven Help Us All"), Cole ("Fever"), McDonald ("Hey Girl"), and Bonnie Raitt ("Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?"). My favorite cut from the album is Ray's duet with BB King on "Sinner's Prayer". It's obvious that the two legends are familiar with with each other and fit together like your favorite pair of leather gloves on this selection.
My least favorite cut is the duet with Willie Nelson on "It Was a Very Good Year". The song is a musically challenging as it stands and the two men struggle with the range and tempo of the song. Elton and Ray's rendition of "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" is less than satisfying, as well. Be that as it may, there are enough great songs on this CD to please both the casual and dedicated fans of Ray Charles."