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Genius Loves Company Enhanced

314 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Enhanced, August 31, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"I've recorded with so many amazing artists in my career but never on a duets album of my own. I thought it was time to have some of the friends that I love & the artists that I admire come into my studio & sing with me live, the way we did it in the old days," explains Ray Charles on the genesis of Genius Loves Company. "All the guests brought their own magic to each song. That's what we wanted & that's exactly what we got." Ray's confidence is understandable. Genius Loves Company stands as a remarkable hallmark in a remarkable career. In his brilliant debut for Concord Records, Ray sings a dozen duets with a dazzling array of guest artists from virtually every genre, who have won a combined 79 GRAMMYr Awards. "We cover it all," Ray adds, "from country to R&B, pop, rock & blues. I've never let them put me in a little box, & this CD expresses that open feeling. A beautiful song is a beautiful song-and to sing with so many beautiful singers is a blessing from God."

The fact that Genius Loves Company will be Ray Charles's final new album inspires an unavoidable blue feeling. But it's also a happy reminder that the man spent the last months of his life at work doing what he loved. The overall effect of these dozen duets is autumnal and smooth. Brother Ray is on point and cruising here. Fine moments abound--you can hear his delight even in the rather stiff company of Diana Krall and Natalie Cole. His voice sounds a bit frayed by ill health at times, but it also allows for great performances like the slyness behind the ache in his version of the old soul hit "Hey Girl" with Michael McDonald and a grand "Crazy Love" with Van Morrison. Potently, he and Gladys Knight remind us of the continued timeliness of Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Help Us All." Its best moments make Company one more essential purchase for Ray Charles fans. --Rickey Wright

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 31, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Concord Records / Hear Music
  • ASIN: B0002F7I9Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

293 of 309 people found the following review helpful By L. Quido VINE VOICE on September 13, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Ray Charles truly gave back to the world of music. In his last album, a series of duets, aptly titled "Genius Loves Company", Charles and his collaborators give us that eclectic mix of styles he was known for.

There are a couple of tracks, recorded early in 2004, when Ray was ill, where his voice and manner are notably subdued. There are three miscalculations of the choice of songs that he made with his collaborator. There are the inevitable difficulties of harmonizing with Ray -- (a man who had a knack for never singing a song the way you expect someone to), and those come through in some of the duets, although most feature echo singing and response, and little harmony.

What a thrill to be asked to work with Ray on one of his previous hits....Gladys Knight is his featured partner in his gospel classic, "Heaven Help Us All". Backed by a choir, Ray and Gladys mix richly. Ray has several blues cuts on the CD -- the best of these is "Sinner's Prayer" with BB King. Ray jams on the piano and BB gives Lucille a workout, with some background Hammond B3 by the legendary Billy Preston. Ray and BB have a natural mix on one of Ray's oldest songs. Some close harmony in the country blues cut "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?" shines through in the featured song with Bonnie Raitt -- produced by Phil Ramone, it is a great mix of vocals and blues guitar. Ray first did the song at the beginning of his career. There's a changeup from country in the old Eddy Arnold standard, "You Don't Know Me" with Ray and Diana Krall. Ray first did it in 1962, and the song is made richer with the jazzy counterpoint of Krall's flawless voice--another contribution from Phil Ramone. And starting the album, Ray collaborates with a relative newcomer, Norah Jones, in his 1967 blues hit - "Here We Go Again".
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jim Mitchell on September 8, 2004
Format: Audio CD
It's a cliche to use the term "overproduced" in critiquing music, but that's the word that consistently comes to mind with many of the songs on "Genius Loves Company". To me, much of Ray Charles' catalog suffers from this- too many syrupy strings, horns and background singers. I don't have a problem with orchestrations- they work to great effect on old Capitol-era Sinatra records and the Ella Fitzgerald "Songbook" series- but they walk a fine line between sounding lush and overwrought. Sadly, many of the songs on this, Mr. Charles' final studio album, fall into the latter category. His voice and piano/keyboard playing are powerful enough by themselves, and don't need to be overshadowed by such sappy sounds that instantly make this brand new album sound terribly dated. That's been a complaint of mine about most of what I've ever heard from Ray Charles, and I'm disappointed that this CD is no exception.

To be fair, there are some true gems on this album. While some of the arrangments might overpower and reduce the timelessness of the music, most of the duet partners seem to complement Mr. Charles quite nicely. Standout tracks are those with Norah Jones, Diana Krall, BB King, Gladys Knight and Van Morrison. They have just the right mix of jazz, soul and blues to give them a touch of the class and elegance of which Ray is so deserving. Elton John isn't bad, but his singing has become so over the top in the past decade or so as to become almost self-parodying. And there are many songs in Elton's catalog that would have better suited the pair. Willie Nelson is actually beginning to sound old. That by itself isn't a bad thing, but the attempt to replicate the orchestrations on the Sinatra version of "It Was A Very Good Year" just sound terrible.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Robert Culbertson on January 8, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I've been listening to Ray Charles since I was about 15 years old, when I first heard "What'd I Say." His voice, the electric piano and the song were about the freshest things I had ever heard, and I immediately loved him. That love never ended.

While I reluctantly agree with a few other reviewers that Ray's voice on some of the tracks is not what it once was, he still is absolutely wonderful and Genius Loves Company is a must for long-time Ray Charles fans like me. The selection of stars with whom he sings duets is varied and interesting and the musicianship and arrangements on the CD are outstanding. Everyone will find a different track that they like best and will feel Ray is particularly good with one artist or another. But, while there are certain tracks that appeal most to me, I actually think they all are good and the guest artists all put in excellent performances -- seemingly a heartfelt tribute to Ray --one of the greatest ever.

My personal favorites are "Fever" with Natalie Cole, who I think sounds as good as I've ever heard her, "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" with Elton John, which some other reviewers have not liked but I think is particularly good, "Sinner's Prayer" with B.B. King--perhaps the best track on the CD, "Heaven Help Us All" with Gladys Knight, "Over The Rainbow" with Johnny Mathis (I think Johnny sounds as good as he did 40 years ago) and "Crazy Love" with Van Morrison.

While Ray has sounded better on other CDs, this is still a classic by a man at the end of his life and one which I'm glad I own and which will be played frequently.
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