Ray Charles: The King Of Soul – Classic Hits

Among the classics are What'd I Say and Drown In My Own Tears, with jazz interest from such as Cecil Payne on Hallelujah I Love Her So

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Ray Charles’s distinctive voice and amalgamation of R&B, gospel, jazz and blues in the 1950s made him the legendary pioneer of soul music and led to an award-winning 50-year career. His achievement is all the more remarkable considering his background. Born into a poor family in 1930 he became blind by the age of six and was orphaned nine years later. He’d learnt piano at school and finding himself on his own at 15 he left to attempt a living playing in dance bands. The rest is history.

This album comprises all 22 of Charles’ hit singles with Atlantic Records from 1953 to 1959 as charted by Billboard magazine. It opens and closes with his biggest hit, What’d I Say, where his use of the Wurlitzer electric piano apparently saved the instrument from extinction as other artists subsequently considered it to be cool.

The song has Hank Crawford on baritone sax, David “Fathead” Newman on tenor, Edgar Willis bass, Milt Turner on drums and a young female vocal group, The Cookies, that Charles recruited and renamed The Raelettes. The last track is a live version of the number from 1959 performed with changed personnel to an ecstatic audience in Atlanta, Georgia.

There are many highlights in between. These include three other number one hits (Mary Ann, I’ve Got A Woman and A Fool For You), The Right Time with backing again by The Raelettes, Hallelujah I Love Her So with superb baritone sax from Cecil Payne, and Let The Good Times Roll with Quincy Jones’s big band featuring notables such as Clark Terry, Al Grey, Melba Liston, Paul Gonsalves and Zoot Sims.

The remastered sound on all the tracks is excellent. The CD has a 12-page booklet containing biographical notes, rare photos, track list with the chart positions reached by each song and a detailed listing of track personnel with recording dates and places.

Discography
What’d I Say (Parts 1 & 2); Drown In My Own Tears ; Mary Ann; I’ve Got A Woman; A Fool For You; Come Back Baby; (Night Time Is) The Right Time; Greenbacks; What Would I Do Without You?; Hallelujah I Love Her So; It Should”ve Been Me; Lonely Avenue; Blackjack; Ain’t That Love; This Little Girl Of Mine; Don’t You Know; I’m Movin’ On; That’s Enough; Swanee River Rock; Let The Good Times Roll; Rockhouse (Parts 1 & 2); Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin’; Drown In My Own Tears (Live Version); What’d I Say (Live Version) (77.19)
Charles (v, p); Marcus Belgrave, Joe Bridgewater, John Hunt (t); David “Fathead” Newman (as, ts, bar); Bennie “Hank” Crawford (as, bar), Don Wilkerson (ts); Edgar Willis, Roosevelt Sheffield (b); Connie Kay, William Peeples, Panama Francis (d); The Raelettes (v) among others. New York, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, 1953-1959.
Hoodoo Records 263607