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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Genius Of Ray Charles

Ray Charles

1959

Buy At Rough Trade
The Genius Of Ray Charles
Album Summary

The Genius of Ray Charles is a 1959 Ray Charles album, released in October by Atlantic Records, the seventh album since the debut Ray Charles in 1957. The album consists of swinging pop with big band arrangements. It comprises a first half of big band songs and a second half of string-backed ballads. The Genius of Ray Charles sold fewer than 500,000 copies and charted at number 17 on the Billboard 200. "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" were released as singles in 1959.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.63

Votes

13166

Genres

  • Soul
  • Blues
  • Jazz

Reviews

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Sun Jan 17 2021
4

This was my grandpas fav album and it makes me think of him and smile. He was my favourite person. This music is so beautiful and relaxing!

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Thu Dec 24 2020
4

One half of abrasive, distorted horns and raucous blues, one half of piano ballads. Really feels like tweo seperate mini albums. Great singing, hit and miss on the songs.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
3

Knocked me for a doozy the first time so I went back for round two, when it didn't pack the same punch. It's in the same mode as the fabulous Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, but unlike that one it doesn't have as cute a concept to tuck the edges in other than the big band side A/ivory tickling side B split. Mostly, that highlights how much more Charles adds to these standards with soulful tinkling. Even though he's an incredible arranger, the big band treatment a) is more typical for these songs, and b) drowns out his primary grift, which is his generosity of spirit. The evidence is Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying and Come Rain or Come Shine (side B). They're the nailed-on A pluses; gorgeous examples of his genius for climbing up and down the scales so tenderly and subtly that you don't realise he's put a lump in your throat and a butterfly in your tummy until you try to swallow.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

Really great album! I love this old shit, it’s got a particular style that you just can’t shy away from whether that’s in the recording process or just the people back in those days. But man this is great. 5/5

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Thu Aug 05 2021
3

So, Ray Charles still gets played a lot today because of the way he fused Jazz, Gospel & R&B. The LP What’d I Say, which came out in the same year as this, I would expect to see on the 1001 list (it isn’t). Instead you get covers of jazz-pop standards. They’re well delivered and I guess he won over members of the Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett crowd but the modern musicians/stars who cite him as an influence aren’t doing so because of stuff like this. It appears the only other RC album put forth by 1001 (1st ed.) is Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (?)

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Tue Sep 28 2021
4

Ray Charles is just a delight. It's a bit big-band over the top for me as an album but the songs are great and man can Ray sing. Pretty fun album top to bottom.

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Tue Aug 15 2023
4

Enjoyed the two listens. Only tracks I really dug were Sympathy for the Devil, Street Fightin Man, and Salt of the Earth. After five listens, these are incredible ballads in the second half of this record. Wow, just wow.

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Tue Dec 28 2021
5

Everyone knows ray charles but I feel like there isn’t any single song or album anyone points to when referencing him. However, this album was great from start to finish. Loved the trumpets and rays voice. Fav: just for a thrill

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Tue Sep 12 2023
4

The first couple tracks didn't do much for me, but the more the album went on the more I really liked the somber and string-filled tracks. He's got a great voice, and the choir enhances the songs rather than feeling unnecessary, something that happens too often in this era of music. Piano is great too, jazzy without being overwhelmingly nonsensical. Sure, it's mostly dinner party music, but it's pretty, I could see myself liking this a lot more as time passes, but I already like this quite a bit.

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Mon Feb 08 2021
3

old saxy tunes. slow and boring

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Fri Apr 22 2022
2

I love his voice but found myself getting bored

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Fri May 28 2021
5

I really liked this album mainly because I'm a sucker for oldie-pop with the piano and orchestra in the background. His voice is soothing in the slow song and great in the louder songs. Overall it was a great album that exemplified that time. Favorite track: Just for a Thrill

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Wed Feb 09 2022
5

Man, if you title an album the genius of your own self(!) you best bring the goods. And Ray sure did. ‘Course he had had six LPs before this to practice, close to a decade in the making for a lot of artists, some even longer. But Ray’s debut LP was released in 1957, a mere two years before this, his seventh! That’s Beatles’ territory. Except that Ray was there first. So, technically, the Beatles were in Ray’s territory. One of the things most noticeable about Ray Charles is his ability to make any song- no, any genre- his own. Give him a standard, and it’ll swing before Ray’s done with it. Give him a torch song, he’ll cook with it. Give him a country & western song, for God’s sake, and he’ll serve it as chicken fried soul food. And Ray opens right up with his signature swing on ‘Let The Good Times Roll,’ his anecdote to the blues, and with a number of options open, honey, including… you know. Rocking and rolling was originally a 17th century expression used by seamen to describe the motion of a ship on the sea. Eventually, though, it grew into a way of referring to a rhythmic movement of any kind. And if some of you young bloods have not yet learned this, there’s a time for rockin’ and then a time for rollin’. You’ll end up rockin’ if you begin by rollin.’ Doesn’t work the other way. Ray knows that. Now you do, too. Swinger . But these more upbeat, good time numbers are only supporting actors in this cast. The lead is the blues. We’ve swung a bit on side one, dipped our toes a bit in the blues already (but even ‘Two Years Of Torture,’ despite the title, was loaded with plenty of big band sparkle), and ended with a celebration of love, the answer to the question, ‘Do I need you, honey?’ ’Deed I Do.’ But by the time side two opens, lord have mercy. Ray must have known that by side two we’d be 2-3 drinks in, prepared emotionally for where the blues will take us. But again, not just any blues, but Ray’s special blend. When were the blues ever so smooth, so… delicious? God, if my blues could feel like ‘Am I Blue?’ sounds! On ‘Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin’,’ have you ever heard someone dissed and dismissed, but served so scrumptiously, like a rich chocolate eclaire with a cup of silky French roast coffee. Luther Ingram had a big hit in 1972 with ‘If Lovin’ You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right.’ Well, if being blue, the Ray Charles way, is wrong, than I don’t wanna be right either. And finally, the piece de resistance. Whereas the opening number offered the anecdote to the blues in the quest for a good time, he ends with another solution, and one that will ultimately conquer the blues altogether: Love. The genius of unconditional love, come rain or come shine.

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Fri Apr 08 2022
5

Awesome -- great music all around. I'm not sure I realized what a big band musician he was. I always kinda figured more of his stuff was kinda stripped down, but it really sounds like classic 50's-60's big band music. Great for weddings, dinner, and cooking.

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Sat May 13 2023
5

Toe tappin'. Great big band sound. Fabulous voice. That piano playing. Every song is delicious. There may be more instantly classic examples of this genre but this collection of songs is no less outstanding for it. Don't let the sun catch you cryin' is certainly a classic. The string arrangement my god. Brings to mind John Barry's best, which would come later. I was bouncing off this one this morning and not really having it. The went back to it this evening and am glad I did, you've got to listen to this in the evening. With or without a decent glass of red. It's an album to reward the end of a day well lived, rather than one to kick it off.

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Mon Jul 10 2023
5

all of the songs were just really good and i enjoyed them a lot nothing else to say

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Mon Sep 11 2023
5

I think I’ve raved before about the desperation with which popular( i.e. “pop”)singers in the 1950’s felt that the yardstick for success was recording with strings. Brother Ray was no different. What I didn’t realise was that Ray climbed that mountain when he was still with Atlantic, who released this record. All of Side 2 features strings. I always thought that Charles left Atlantic & went to ABC Records because they promised to record him with strings. Apparently, however, it was because they offered him higher royalties & ownership of his masters. Anyway, there’s nothing not to like on either side of this record. It opens with a Louis Jordan cover that’s almost the equal of the original. A great version of It Had To Be You follows (the song now most identified with the film When Harry Met Sally) & then the only dud here - Alexander’s Ragtime Band? Really? I’ve never understood why This song is constantly wheeled out by great singers who should know better. But then he slides straight into Percy Mayfield’s Two Years Of Torture - the bluesiest song on the whole record & an absolute winner. The band on Side 1 is awesome - the horns are drawn from great swing bands and their charts are arranged by people like Quincy Jones. Side 2 is a huge contrast. But Ray Charles ‘s vocals shine with any backing & the strings also work for him. The highlights are the final 2 cuts - the great, great Am I Blue (written in 1929, the line “Was I gay?” really makes you smile these daze) & Ray’s magnificent version of Come Rain Or Come Shine. Swings & Strings. It’s a winner for me.

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Mon Oct 02 2023
5

This album transported me to so many places in the 1950s/60s: jazz club late at night just vibing- maybe dancing with a handsome man, a cozy, dark living room smoking a cigarette from a holder and drinking a glass of gin, a fancy, expensive restaurant. His voice is like a velvet blanket. So full of soul and life but effortless. A perfect album.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
4

-old school 50’s swing album -alexander’s ragtime band - big brass, very upbeat olds hook swing, almost reminds me of fallout new vegas music -just for a thrill - slow paced, piano jazz tune

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Mon Oct 02 2023
3

Chose this specifically for morning work while jet-lagged. Was a nice chill listen. If your in for some chill big band and jazz this is a nice one. "Come Rain or Come Shine" is a very nice track that showcases Ray Charles singing.

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Mon Sep 19 2022
2

It has a great sound, but a bit dated. Big horns, big drums, smoky lounges. Not sure when I'd listen to it again.

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Mon Sep 04 2023
2

Pleasant enough, but this Big Band shit ain’t for me.

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Mon Jan 18 2021
5

great listen. Always loved Ray.

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Sun Jan 17 2021
5

First one I really enjoyed, and actually listened through. Have always loved Ray Charles. So soothing, crooning, wanting, in love. Great!

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Wed Feb 03 2021
5

Album name says it all. Don’t think this is his finest work but still deserving of top marks

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Sun Mar 21 2021
5

Quality, Ray Charles is an OG baller

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Tue Mar 16 2021
5

A classic, reminded me of my parents

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Thu Feb 18 2021
5

Took me back to grade 8. The big band feel was a nice change.

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Mon Jun 28 2021
5

An artist stepping outside the box and doing that creative thing....Swing and Pop...sure. Why not!

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Mon May 10 2021
5

Stellar from front to back. Didn't expect so many string and chorus harmonies throughout. Plenty of classics I've heard before

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Mon Aug 16 2021
5

What an amazing sound! A well titled album.

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Mon Aug 16 2021
5

Loved every minute! Timeless classic!

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Oh yeah. Big Band feel? All about this.

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Thu Sep 23 2021
5

Boy is this album named correctly! Genius!!! Whether he’s partying, romancing, breaking up or heartbroken, I want to listen to Ray telling the story. My kind of music.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

Great album, especially if you want an overall slower paced R&B style. Pretty easy 5 stars.

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Thu Oct 21 2021
5

jazz music! big, brassy intense. digigng it. great listen. easy 4 or 5!

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Thu Oct 28 2021
5

I mean, it’s Ray Charles and a big band…how great is that!?

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Sat Nov 13 2021
5

Loved it. Good background dinner jazz/swing music.

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Sat Dec 18 2021
5

5/5. Ray Charles’s singing is pretty dynamic actually. Lowkey better than Sinatra 🤭🤫

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Tue Jan 04 2022
5

Good classic Ray Charles. Album does not disappoint.

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Sat Jan 15 2022
5

Le genie de ray charles, evidemment. 5* merci pour cet album.

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Sat Feb 19 2022
5

Loving both Ray and Louis Jordan, as I do, I have to admit I couldn't wait to hear this album again. some classics on here but Ray's original voice and these different arrangements are classics in themselves. Love "Let the Good Times Roll" and "It Had To Be You" (Which I first heard on "A Little Touch Of Schmillson In The Night" A great Album that should also be on this List!) But I don't think there is a bad track on this album in my honest opinion. Rightfully on the list I say!

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Mon Mar 07 2022
5

This was an excellent album! It is the only record I received so far that I actually listened to twice in one day because I enjoyed it so much. Ray Charles is always fantastic, and his performance here is top notch. I have heard what feels like a lot of his work over the years, but I did not recognize any of the tracks on this particular album. For what I know about him, this was a perfect representation of what he is capable of. The first half features more upbeat, big band music (my favorites being Alexander's Ragtime Band, Let the Good Times Roll, and Deed I Do) while the second half features some great orchestral ballads (the highlights being Just for a Thrill and the last three song stretch which is definitely the brightest spot of this record). I found this division between styles super interesting as this was obviously originally intended to be listened to as "Side A and Side B". Some might find this a bit repetitive as there is not much instrumental diversity throughout the two different types of songs, but that didn't really hurt it at all for me as the music and performance from Charles were both very strong. This album is absolutely timeless and nearly perfect. I will definitely come back to this one in the future (maybe I can even find an original pressing for my collection). 4.5/5.

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Wed Mar 16 2022
5

Just a good album. I think this might be the first full Ray Charles album I've heard and I am slightly ashamed by that fact.

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Sat Mar 26 2022
5

um meio-termo q extrapola 💯

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Wed Apr 06 2022
5

..and to think he accomplished it all without a sense of smell.

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Wed May 04 2022
5

Highlights: Let the Good Times Roll Two Years of Torture Deed I Do Just For A Thrill Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin' Artwork: 4 / 10 Rating: 9 / 10

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Fri Apr 15 2022
5

I could listen to this all day.

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Thu May 05 2022
5

10/10 my man Ray out here makin the best hits of the century

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

Very good. Great summer album. Makes me wanna sit outside somewhere and people watch.

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Fri Jun 10 2022
5

Perfection, geniality, superb arrangements, Ray has an unique talent.

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

Ray Charles is another of those artists my dad really loved so I heard a lot of him growing up. No sure if I’ve ever heard this album in particular, but I knew some of the songs and very much enjoyed it! Smoking in some places, sumptuous in others, this is a really wonderful addition to the day.

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

Sailing smoothly from big band horns to jazzy sax and piano to lush orchestral strings, The Genius of Ray Charles is one glorious ride.

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

I was not familiar with these Ray Charles tracks, but it was a great listen. Lots of fun and musically interesting.

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Tue Jun 21 2022
5

This was a surprise and a discovery to listen to. I guess I thought I knew my basic Ray Charles. Big band and orchestra arrangements? Pop standards? But it was pure Ray singing, and while I was at first just a little skeptical, the second time through I just enjoyed the ride and loved his take on some classics. "Let the Good Times Roll" was really a ton of fun and "Am I Blue" was gorgeous. I'm so happy I got to hear this today!

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Fri Jun 24 2022
5

A beautiful album, Brother Ray’s prowess on keys alongside that whisky smoked voice is a transportive, enrapturing experience. Whether ballad or big band, there’s none finer. The arrangements are sublime (including two by Quincy Jones), the band are brilliant.

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Fri Jul 08 2022
5

You are hosting for your third date. Get some wine and cheese, maybe you just went to the theatre. You show your record collection and of course play this, after telling some bohemian story about how you found it on some random second hand record store. It has to be on a small central-european city, of course. But it works, and the date is a blast.

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Fri Jul 08 2022
5

Amazing. Ray Charles’ voice just gets you.

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Fri Jul 22 2022
5

He does Sinatra better than Sinatra. Beautiful.

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Thu Sep 08 2022
5

[07/09/2022] Fucking great. I knew my lucky number three wouldn’t let me down. The lyrics are good. The sound is better. Great both for listening attentively and for letting it play in the background as you do something else… I think this was soul/jazz? Life kinda sucks rn but this definitely helps… I can make my days a little better just by listening to this. And Ray Charles was blind too?! Damn. Oldest album yet too, 1959. I wonder what the oldest one will be.

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Wed Sep 14 2022
5

Ray Charles is a legend, and this album is legendary. Definitely something I wouldn't seek out on my own, but I'm glad I was recommended this album to listen to

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Sat Sep 17 2022
5

This is a great big band album. Personally, it feels a bit tiresome after a while but if you're into big band jazz and ballads you'll love it. Ray Charles just doing his thing is worth the listen.

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Thu Dec 15 2022
5

Best album so far. An incredible example of ray Charles unique blend of r&b, soul, and the big band pop/swing of the day. Even without carrying some of his biggest hits this album is great!

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