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Ray Charles: Live In France 1961

4.6 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

By 1961 Ray Charles had established himself at the forefront of popular music. He had several R&B hit singles on Atlantic Records in the fifties and crossed over into the mainstream with his hit "What'd I Say" in 1959. He then moved from Atlantic Records to ABC and had further success throughout the sixties. The two concerts on this DVD were filmed at the Antibes Jazz Festival in July of 1961 when Ray Charles was at the peak of his powers. Filmed on 16mm film it has been lovingly restored and is released here for the first time.

Bonus Features: Additional performances from the festival:

July 19, 1961:
(1) The Story
(2) Sticks And Stones
(3) Yes Indeed
(4) I Believe To My Soul
(5) What'd I Say

July 21, 1961:
(1) I Wonder

TRACK LISTING:
1) Opening / Antibes
2) The Story
3) Doodlin'
4) One Mint Julep
5) Let The Good Times Roll
6) Georgia On My Mind
7) Sticks And Stones
8) Hallelujah, I Love Her So
9) What'd I Say

July 22, 1961:
10) Hornful Soul
11) Let The Good Times Roll
12) Georgia On My Mind
13) My Bonnie
14) With You On My Mind
15) Ruby
16) Tell The Truth
17) I Wonder
18) Sticks And Stones
19) I Believe To My Soul
20) What'd I Say
21) Credits / I Wonder


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Eagle Rock Ent
  • DVD Release Date: October 24, 2011
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005JJSGAS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,616 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 2, 2011
Ray Charles was an American music icon. He scored hits on the R&B, pop, jazz and even country music charts. There are a number of DVDs of Charles live performances, but this new release is - in my opinion - the best. And, though 50 years old, it is being released on home video for the first time.

If you've read my other reviews over the years, you know that I'm a huge fan of any video release produced bt Reelin' in the Years Production. They've never let me down whether it was their Motown or Stax documentaries, their superb "Jazz Icons" and "British Invasion" sets or the sole release on there "Folk Icons" series: "Pete Seeger in Concert", The team of David Peck, Phil Galloway, Tom Gulotta and Steve Scoville search Europe television archives for film footage of music performances that the (mostly) government-owned networks have preserved. And, because the performances are on film, not videotape (easily erased and reused by US television networks) they have survived.

Charles was at the peak of his career in 1961, He was leaving Atlantic Records and starting at ABC Paramount - and, between the labels, had 10 albums released that year. A French music promoter booked Charles for his Antibes Jazz Festival (which also featured Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Count Basie and Les McCann, among others). The musical performances were filmed (as well as separate audio recordings in real time) and edited into "compilation" shows for broadcast. No complete, sequenced, video of Charles performances was ever aired.

The RITY team went back to the original "set list" for the four nights that Charles performed and "recreated" the concerts. Using footage of the audience as "connectors" for the individual songs, the programs are seamless. And the quality of the prints used is superb.
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1961 was a banner year for Ray Charles. The crossover seeds he'd sewn with Atlantic on 1959's The Genius of Ray Charles had led him to bigger bands and orchestras and a contract with ABC. In 1960 he'd notched his first #1 on the pop chart with a cover of Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind," and by 1961 the demand for his concert appearances finally brought him to Europe, where he headlined the second-annual Antibes Jazz Festival in southeastern France. Charles performed four dates with the classic lineup of his octet, featuring Hank Crawford (alto sax), David "Fathead" Newman (tenor sax and flute), Leroy Cooper (baritone sax), Phillip Guilbeau (trumpet), John Hunt (trumpet), Edgar Willis (bass), Bruno Carr (drums) and the Raelettes (Gwen Berry, Margie Hendrix, Pat Lyles and Darlene McCrea).

The two full dates captured here - July 18th and 22nd - split their set lists between earlier titles recorded for Atlantic and then recent sides for ABC. The two sets repeat a few titles ("Let the Good Times Roll," "Georgia on My Mind," "Sticks and Stones" and crowd-rousing versions of Charles' first crossover hit, "What'd I Say"), but also add unique titles, including a swinging take of Charles then-current Latin-rhythm single "One Mint Julep" a celebratory performance of "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" (with Newman stepping to the front for a short solo), and a cover of Nat King Cole's "With You On My Mind." The band's instrumental tunes give Charles an opportunity to show off his considerable talent as a pianist, and the fluidity with which the shows move between jazz, blues, R&B, gospel and pop is mesmerizing.
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It never ceases to amaze me the amount of quality live footage that is constantly being discovered or circulated of Jazz & Blues artists performing in Europe. It seems like Europeans, the UK, France and Germany in particular made every effort to record and film as many legendary artists as they could performing in their countries in the late 50's to the 70's. This recently available footage of Ray Charles' first live performances in Europe is nothing short of astounding. The footage, while black and white (common for the time period) was recorded on actual professional reels as opposed to VHS tape for TV broadcast and thus is excellent quality. There are some slight shifts in audio mix elements and quality throughout but these are really only minor issues. The fact that nearly 2 hours of footage, culled from the 1st and 2nd set of Mr. Charles' performances, is presented in excellent quality is really amazing. If you're a fan of Ray Charles in his prime, this is a must-have DVD to own! The jazz side of Ray Charles as well as his classic r&b material is represented well here.
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This is not Ray Charles at his best. Instead it is a jazz festival with a few songs from Ray. He does a couple of songs as they were recorded but mostly it is the back up band showcasing their talents plus the tempo has been changed to accommodate the reason for the DVD- a jazz festival. I am putting this in a Salvation Army tub. Not worth the price and not the Ray Charles we remember.
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Even though this show was done in his hey-days, it seems as though he didn't have his normal touch. Sadly, he was going through some problems that gave him a lot of grief which could be why he just wasn't up to par.
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