Ray Charles

Ray Charles, The Very Best of Ray Charles

Reviewed By:
-Tammy La Gorce

Hard as it is to go wrong when shopping for a Brother Ray package, some career-spanning compilations bundle the decades better than others. Count this one, true to its title, among the very best. The track sequencing is straight-up chronological, opening with 1954’s groundbreaking blues and gospel mingling “I’ve Got a Woman.” From there it charges through the late-’50s Atlantic era, rounding up classic singles like “Hallelujah (I Love Her So),” “(Night Time Is) The Right Time,” and “What’d I Say.”

By the time the disc lands us in the ’60s, the Genius has saddled up to explore his country side, turning in such popular-music-altering hits as “Georgia on My Mind” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” A final cut jumps into the ’80s for the Willie Nelson duet “Seven Spanish Angels,” leaving the listener with a solid–and deeply satisfying–sense of Charles’ bold artistic wanderings. All that’s missing is his soul-dunked rendition of “America the Beautiful.”

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