Ever since the biopic Ray (2004) starring Jamie Foxx won two Oscars (best male lead actor and Best Achievement in Sound) and made millions at the box office, the Ray Charles compilations have been flowing from his record company, making it highly likely that, whether you want to or not, you'll eventually have to own at least one of the many Ray Charles CDs on the market. It's the law of averages. You don't have a choice so just accept it.
What you can control, however, is WHICH one you own. Here's some honest info about five Ray Charles albums you're most likely to buy or buy for others.
Just Ray Charles alone
Ray (OST)A short retrospective collection of recordings, covering a few live performances as well as studio recordings. This album was the official soundtrack to the Oscar winning movie, Ray, and at the time was probably the first new compilation to be released in a while.Get it on Kalahari.net
The Definitive Ray Charles46 of his most famous songs on two CDs - it's pretty much got his career covered. Nothing fancy, no duets or nothing, just the man and his piano. This is good stuff and pretty much the perfect gift for anyone who's into stylish smoothie blues pop.Buy The Definitive Ray Charles from Kalahari.net
Everybody Loves Ray - duets and covers albums
Inspired by GeniusA sometimes interesting but very patchy compilation of covers of Ray Charles songs by famous people. This album has huge novelty value, being possibly the only compilation album released since July 2004 that doesn't feature Joss Stone!Buy Inspired by Genius from Kalahari.net
Genius Loves CompanyWell, they're not joking. Ray Charles certainly got around - dueting with everyone from Elton John, to Willie Nelson, to Van Morrison, to Norah Jones (yes, the one before Joss Stone). Genius Loves Company was recorded just before his June 2004 death, making you wonder why they didn't call it "Genius Loves Record Company" instead.Buy Genius Loves Company
Genius & FriendsIf you bought Genius Loves Company, then you're probably into older music than the crowd who're going to buy this compilation of duets largely featuring RnB / Soul singers like Angie Stone, Mary J. Bilge, Leela James, and Alicia Keys. They throw in a few oldies - George Michael makes the cut. So does Willie Nelson, doing "Busted" live with Ray. A stylish duets album.Buy Genius & Friends from Kalahari.net
So which should you get?
Well, The Definitive Ray Charles is the probably the "must have" of this lot. Not only that, but it's selling for only R139. That's about R3.02 cents a song. Cheap! The movie soundtrack Ray has "spin off" written all over it and is completely outclassed.
The covers album Inspired by Genius looks like it should be good, but without Ray singing, it just sounds like a patchwork of big names having too fun much fun to actually be any fun to listen to. Of the others, well, it depends on your preferences. If you're an Urban or jazz fan, get Genius & Friends (including friend-with-weed Willie Nelson). If you're more into the oldies or rock than jazz, give Genius Loves Company a whirl.
- Jean Barker
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