Genius & Friends
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This disc of all-new duet recordings commemorates the 75th anniversary of the Genius' birth and spotlights the legendary Ray Charles collaborations with superstar partners John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, George Michael, Angie Stone, Diana Ross, and more! Before Ray passed away last year, he laid out plans to use a set of recordings produced in 1998 to create an album of duets with some of his favorite contemporary artists. It was among his last requests to his management that the project be completed and released. Now, the Genius must be smiling from up above as this stunning collection finds him in tremendously strong voice on a lineup of memorable songs. Released on Rhino and produced in conjunction with Ray Charles Enterprises, Genius & Friends follows on the heels of the phenomenally popular Genius Loves Company and it shines throughout as Charles and an all-star roster of partners serenade in sublime harmony. 2005.
It doesn't take a lot of marquee names to sell a Ray Charles record, but the Genius proved long before 2004's Genius Loves Company that he was a master collaborator as well as a very natural one. On Genius & Friends, Rhino Records smartly capitalizes on Charles's gift for investing any duet with both backbone and bluesy, velvety soul by rounding up recordings he made in 1997 and 1998 and swelling them with the sounds of artists he inspired. The result is both brilliant and frustrating: brilliant because artists like Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight, and Patti LaBelle so reliably tread their tracks with care and affection, reining in all that raw vocal power where a song requires it; and frustrating because it would have been incredible to hear each of the very different artists gathered here trading verses with Brother Ray in real time--producer Phil Ramone fused these songs together. (In two cases, we do get the pleasure: "Big Bad Love", recorded in 1994 with Diana Ross for the film The Favor, and "Busted," recorded live in 1991 with Willie Nelson.) To the producers' credit (add Ahmet Ertegun and Quincy Jones to Ramone) the audio wizardry required to make this disc does not once interfere with the sense it conveys that the chosen artists really were Ray Charles's friends. Hear it especially on the Idina Menzel heartwarmer "I Will Be There" and Blige's "It All Goes By So Fast," as silkily convincing as it is bittersweet. --Tammy La Gorce
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I love everything that Ray Charles does from the Heart. He'll always be remembered. He help put the Industry on top with his tenderly, most-touchable, strongful, and outrageous gift. This Man is a Blessing to the World of Music. Sorry Maxx (or Bro. Max), you seem to be missing some acceptions.
Thank God for Brother Ray.
Back to the Album.
It's full of collabos of some of the most talented people out there on this Disc which was produced by no other than Phil Ramone also noted producers who are additional. Angie Stone, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Patti Labelle, Diana Ross, Gladys Kinght, Alicia Keys, Willie Nelson, Leela James, George Michael, the list goes on. Bad arrangements, nice work, cool vocals, really touchy, feelin' the air with fire like cookin' Gumbo.
Again this is worth the Price. Don't be too shy or too distasteful. Lemme see if u wanna a touch or taste of some Ray Charles. The last album whom was released posthumously after his death (which went home for 10 Grammys each) was my favorite to top from the Genius. As Frank Sinatra noted on RC, "The only Genius in the business".
They actually didn't note the name of the musicians who play on there. Well overall Good Work and Much Love in Heaven from Ray. We miss you Ray Charles. You're long remembered and unforgotten!
Checkout the Luther tributes i.e. "Forever, For Always, For Luther" and "So Amazing: A Salute Tribute to Luther Vandross" if you Must.
Ray Charles fans, of course will love to hear some of these tunes not released before, and fans of artists like John Legend, Idina Menzel, and Alicia Keyes will get a kick out of hearing their favorites singing with a legend.
Plus, it now looks like you can get this CD for .01 plus shipping here on Amazon so for $4 it is definitely worth a try!
On the Up Side...The cut: "Touch" with John Legend could have been released as a Single! This has "Hit' written all over it! It has an Al Green-Sly Stone feel to it...Let me put it this way...It's one of Ray's most funkiest tune in his career! "Shout" with Patti LaBelle & The Andrae Crouch Singers is another Single worthy track! This cut showcases Ray's contemporary gospel side. Upon listening to this once, you'll find yourself singin' along. The WHOLE ABLUM (Except for the Alicia Keys cut) is SOLID FROM START TO FINISH!
Put the blame of poor Marketing/Promotion on Rhino Records, especially for the warm receiption this album recieved. It should have done much better Air-Play and Sales-Wise, but don't let this be the reason for you passing this album up...JUDGE FOR YOURSELF!
Oh!, and let's not forget Rhino Records RUSH RELEASED this right on the heels of the 2004 Grammy Winner "Gunius Loves Company" just to capitolize and Cash in on sales of that album's success, which was done in reaaaaaaaaaaaal poor taste. Even with this being as low as $1.00! (One Dollar!)...Isn't that enough to tempt you to buy it??? Even if you didn't like it, you can't say it set you back for a lot of money! Once you get more people saying how good this album really is the price WILL go up!