LOS ANGELES, Calif. â€” Commencing an extensive Ray Charles reissue program for 2009, Concord Records will release a 21-song anthology of hits titled Ray Charles â€” Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection. The volume, slated for a street date of April 7, 2009, presents Charlesâ€™ most influential recordings for the Atlantic and ABC-Paramount labels including 1955â€™s â€œI Got a Womanâ€ plus â€œBusted,â€ â€œGeorgia on My Mind,â€ â€œHit the Road Jackâ€ and â€œI Canâ€™t Stop Loving You,â€ concluding with his signature 1972 rendition of â€œAmerica the Beautiful.â€ All are digitally remastered from the original tapes.
Late last year, Concord Music Group announced it had entered into an exclusive arrangement with the Ray Charles Foundation to develop the artistâ€™s post-1960 catalog, which contains his classic work for the ABC-Paramount and Tangerine labels. In addition to planning a series of CD reissues, Concord will make the catalog available digitally for the first time ever.
Ray Charles â€” Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection chronicles the high points in Charlesâ€™ catalog. As noted jazz writer Don Heckman writes in his liner notes, â€œThe first feeling that comes to mind after even a short glance at the titles included here is a sense of wonder. The diversity of the material is impressive in its own right â€” blues, of course, transformed gospel songs, country tunes, an American Songbook standard, a Beatles classic and a climactic American anthem. But more than that, itâ€™s what he does with all these variegated numbers. Good singers can do great interpretations. Great singers like Charles possess the material in a way that makes a song their own, while remaining true to the essence of each.â€
Ten of the tracks on this collection made it to #1 on the R&B charts and three songs hit #1 on the pop chart. â€œThat may sound like nothing more than numbers,â€ says Heckman, â€œbut it represents an extraordinary string of successes in which Charles released a Top 10 R&B single in almost every year between 1954-67, and a Top 10 pop single almost every year between 1959-67.â€
The album contains 21 of Charlesâ€™ biggest hits, each within its own unique history and meaning. â€œHit the Road Jack,â€ penned by Percy Mayfield, a #1 pop hit and a 1961 Grammy winner for Charles, opens the collection. Also included are â€œWhat Iâ€™d Say (Part 1),â€ ranked #10 in Rolling Stoneâ€™s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time; the classic â€œBustedâ€; â€œI Canâ€™t Stop Loving Youâ€ from the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which reached #1 on R&B and pop charts; the Bobby Sharp composition â€œUnchain My Heartâ€; Charlesâ€™ signature rendition of Hoagy Carmichaelâ€™s â€œGeorgia on My Mind, another #1 pop hit; â€œI Got a Womanâ€ which was Charlesâ€™ first #1 R&B hit and was later sampled by Kanye West; â€œYou Are My Sunshine,â€ the Jimmie Davis standard that Charles brought to #1 R&B; a soulful edition of Hank Williamsâ€™ â€œTake These Chains From My Heartâ€; the offbeat â€œHide Nor Hairâ€; Ashford & Simpsonâ€™s â€œLetâ€™s Go Get Stoned,â€ a #1 R&B hit by Charles; â€œYou Donâ€™t Know Me,â€ earlier a hit for Jerry Vale, which charted #2 pop; â€œHallelujah I Love Her So,â€ originally a gospel hymn; â€œCrying Time,â€ a Buck Owens song which Charles brought to #6 on the pop charts; the funky â€œIâ€™m a Fool for You,â€ which charted #1 R&B; â€œOne Mint Julep,â€ Charlesâ€™ version of The Cloversâ€™ hit with a big band arrangement by Quincy Jones; â€œHere We Go Again,â€ sung as a duet with Betty Carter; â€œYesterday,â€ the Lennon/McCartney classic, in which Charles, according to Heckman, â€œembraces the songâ€™s deep inner heartâ€; and finally his 1972 signature recording of â€œAmerica the Beautiful,â€ the perfect ending and relevant once again.
Genius: The Ultimate Ray Charles Collection will be packaged in a handsome embossed digipack and presented with a 24-page collectorsâ€™ book of rare photos and Heckmanâ€™s notes.
â€œGenius Loves Company was Ray Charles’ highest selling record ever,”
said Valerie Ervin, President of the Ray Charles Foundation. “In addition to the artistic quality of the music, the release was matched by Concord’s skill in finding new ways to market in the increasingly challenging environment.
Their incomparable ability to innovate will also be seen in the upcoming
Concord will release several other Ray Charles reissues this year including Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2, The Genius Hits the Road, A Message to the People and Genius + Soul = Jazz & More.