Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company (2004): Review

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Produced by John Burk and Phil Ramone
Label – Concord/Hear Music

The final studio recording of The Genius’ career in June 2004 brings together all the elements for a warm and friendly bow out by producing a clutch of traditional songs recorded with some of the most popular artists around. It had been 8 years since Charles had recorded an album and it seems that he needed his cohorts to create a comfortable medium on which to produce a set of songs. He’d also changed record company having left a long standing relationship with Warners and moving over to Concord. As an artist, Charles has little to prove, and this may explain the safety first policy of choosing to record well known songs from the past and re-enforcing the security with a set of duets with the “Usual suspects” alongside.

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John Burk and Phil Ramone choose a back to basics production effort, using traditional musicians and orchestras which certainly add to the honesty and warmth of the recording. The songs are all tried and tested, and are well known by all. “Fever”, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and many others are all given the perfect clean Production and mix in equal parts, Charles’ failing voice, and whoever the particular partner is on each song. Artists such as Elton John, B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Norah Jones and Diana Krall all make an appearance, with varying results, but with the major aim of creating an easy going, friendly but ultimately lacklustre recording.

“Genius Loves Company” isn’t the era defining closer one would have probably looked for, but it still has a tender warmth that some will enjoy listening to.

6/10

Track Listing
1. “Here We Go Again” (with Norah Jones) Don Lanier, Red Steagall 3:59
2. “Sweet Potato Pie” (with James Taylor) James Taylor 3:47
3. “You Don’t Know Me” (with Diana Krall) Eddy Arnold, Cindy Walker 3:55
4. “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” (with Elton John) Elton John, Bernie Taupin 3:59
5. “Fever” (with Natalie Cole) Eddie Cooley, John Davenport 3:30
6. “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” (with Bonnie Raitt) Billy Burnette, Michael Smotherman 4:34
7. “It Was a Very Good Year” (with Willie Nelson) Ervin Drake 4:59
8. “Hey Girl” (with Michael McDonald) Gerry Goffin, Carole King 5:15
9. “Sinner’s Prayer” (with B.B. King) Lowell Fulson, Lloyd Glenn 4:25
10. “Heaven Help Us All” (with Gladys Knight) Ronald Miller 4:32
11. “Over the Rainbow” (with Johnny Mathis) Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg 4:54
12. “Crazy Love” (with Van Morrison) Van Morrison 3:42

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One response to “Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company (2004): Review

  1. Thanks. Very much the lion in winter. Pleased to have come across your blog and I look forward to reading more. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (drop a nickel).

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