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The Rough Guide to Ray Charles

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The Rough Guide to Ray Charles
The Rough Guide to Ray Charles


Ray Charles Robinson was born into acute poverty in rural Georgia in 1930 and had a tragic upbringing. He witnessed his brother drown as a young child, was blind from the age of seven and lost his mother when he was 15. 'Music was the only thing that kept me breathing and gave me a way to pick myself up,' he told this writer. At blind school he learnt to read and write music in braille and began his recording career for the Downbeat label in 1949, singing in a smooth, crooning style modelled on Nat 'King' Cole and Charles Brown. He enjoyed some early success but it was not until he signed to Atlantic Records in 1952 that he began to develop his own style and, with the encouragement of label owner Ahmet Ertegun, moved away from his 'cool' sound towards a more urgent and emotional approach with its roots in blues and gospel. The turning point came on 1954's 'I Got A Woman'. A huge hit, the song was also highly controversial for its fusion of gospel fervour and carnal lyrics which even Charles' religious wife admitted shocked her when she first heard it. The controversy soon subsided and a string of unforgettable hits followed, including 'This Little Girl Of Mine, Drown In My Own Tears', 'Hallelujah I Love Her So', 'Lonely Avenue', 'Talking 'Bout You', 'I Believe To My Soul' and 'The Night Time Is The Right Time', all of which are included here. On these recordings, Charles fused jazz, gospel, swing, blues, r&b and balladry, which, as Van Morrison put it, were 'rolled together into one amazing, soulful thing.' He left Atlantic at the end of the 1950s and although there were still some great records to come, few would argue that the tracks included here represent his golden period when he was the undisputed 'genius of soul'.


  1. Name
  2. Come Rain Or Come Shine
  3. What'd I Say (Parts 1 & 2)
  4. Lonely Avenue
  5. I Got A Woman
  6. Georgia On My Mind
  7. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  8. Drown In My Own Tears
  9. Early In The Morning
  10. Night Time Is The Right Time
  11. Mess Around
  12. I Believe To My Soul
  13. Mary Ann
  14. Come Back Baby
  15. This Little Girl Of Mine
  16. Sinner's Prayer
  17. Talkin' Bout You
  18. A Fool For You
  19. Let The Good Times Roll
  20. Blackjack
  21. I Had A Dream
  22. Tell Me How Do You Feel
  23. It Should've Been Me
  24. Im Moving On
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