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Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959)

Pure Genius: The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959)

by Ray Charles
There’s a reason they call him the Genius. In his seven-year (1952-59) tenure at Atlantic Records, Ray Charles rewrote the language of American music. By integrating R&B, blues, jazz, gospel, country and western, and Great American Songbook standards into his repertoire, and -- most important -- blurring the lines between these genres, Charles was able to invent a


There’s a reason they call him the Genius. In his seven-year (1952-59) tenure at Atlantic Records, Ray Charles rewrote the language of American music. By integrating R&B, blues, jazz, gospel, country and western, and Great American Songbook standards into his repertoire, and -- most important -- blurring the lines between these genres, Charles was able to invent a distinctly personal style that laid the groundwork for modern popular music. As a singer, pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader, Charles followed his own muse, letting no artificial barriers constrict his inventiveness and daring. Pure Genius captures the whole story, giving us the gift of Charles’ complete recordings for Atlantic, plus nearly an hour of unreleased music and conversation. There’s so much superb music here! Dip into any of the seven CDs, and gems just float right to the surface: “Losing Hand,” “Lonely Avenue,” “Mary Ann,” “Cosmic Ray,” “I’m Movin’ On,” “I Believe to My Soul,” and of course all the early influential hits, including “What'd I Say,” “Hallelujah I Love Her So,” “I’ve Got a Woman,” and “Drown in My Own Tears.” Apart from Charles’ own groundbreaking performances, the box covers his crossover collaborations with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson and his appearances as a sideman for his own star saxophonist, David “Fathead” Newman. It’s a commonplace to say that Charles’ Atlantic recordings are the basis for soul music; in fact, these sides are the basis of American pop music as we have known it for the past half century.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Ray Charles' seminal recordings for Atlantic have been boxed once before, as the triple-disc 1991 set The Birth of Soul. That box contained 53 tracks, the best moments of what is arguably the best period of Charles' career, but Rhino/Atlantic's 2005 seven-disc sequel, Pure Genius, doesn't bother with merely the highlights: as its subtitle makes clear, this is The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959). This is undeniably a major historical release, since it gathers all of the recordings Charles made at his creative peak, not just as a leader, but as a sideman for his saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and sides he recorded with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson. Also, it's not limited to studio recordings -- live sessions, later issued on the LPs Ray Charles in Person and Ray Charles at Newport, are here too. Despite the abundance of music here, there's not much that hasn't seen the light of day before. It may not seem that way at first glance, since the seventh disc contains nothing but unreleased material, but the great majority of that is devoted to a full-length rehearsal session with producer Ahmet Ertegun from 1953 -- something that is interesting to hear once, since it does give some insights into Ertegun and Charles' working relationship and how Ray acted in the studio, but even then, it's not exactly revelatory. So, apart from that rehearsal, outtakes of "(Night Time Is) The Right Time" and "Tell Me How Do You Feel" and an excellent DVD of Ray live at Newport from 1960, Pure Genius is devoted to material that has been reissued extensively during the CD era -- which is another way of saying that most fans will have this music already. Still, presented here in chronological order according to recording sessions, it's hard not to marvel at Charles' development as an artist and be astonished by his range. That is what makes this set worthwhile as something more than a library piece -- listening to the first six discs from beginning to end reveals exactly how restless and creative Ray was during this period. Most listeners will be satisfied by more concise collections of this period -- and even those who truly love the hard R&B and soul of Charles' Atlantic hits will likely find The Birth of Soul a more satisfying box, since it is devoted to that sound, whereas the rest of the music here that's not on the 1991 box is largely devoted to jazz sides and live performances -- but any serious fan or historian of American music will find this set essential. (Nevertheless, they may find the packaging of the set somewhat infuriating: it's a clever, well-designed replica of an old-fashioned, all-in-one record player, with the hardcover book and eight discs stored inside. It's a nice package, but a bit impractical, particularly for those who just want the music.)

Product Details

Release Date:

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Disc 1

  1. The Sun's Gonna Shine Again
  2. Roll With My Baby
  3. The Midnight Hour
  4. Jumpin' in the Mornin'
  5. It Should've Been Me
  6. Losing Hand
  7. Heartbreaker
  8. Sinner's Prayer
  9. Mess Around
  10. Funny (But I Still Love You)
  11. Feelin' Sad
  12. I Wonder Who
  13. Don't You Know
  14. Nobody Cares
  15. Ray's Blues
  16. I Got a Break Baby
  17. Blackjack
  18. I've Got a Woman
  19. Greenbacks
  20. Come Back Baby
  21. A Fool For You
  22. This Little Girl of Mine
  23. Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)
  24. Blues Hangover
  25. Mary Ann
  26. Drown in My Own Tears
  27. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  28. What Would I Do Without You

Disc 2

  1. Dawn Ray
  2. The Man I Love
  3. Music, Music, Music
  4. Black Coffee
  5. Lonely Avenue
  6. I Want to Know
  7. Leave My Woman Alone
  8. The Ray
  9. I Surrender Dear
  10. Hornful Soul
  11. Ain't Misbehavin'
  12. Joy Ride
  13. Sweet Sixteen Bars
  14. Doodlin'
  15. There's No You
  16. Undecided
  17. My Melancholy Baby
  18. It's All Right
  19. Ain't That Love

Disc 3

  1. Rockhouse Parts 1& 2
  2. Get on the Right Track Baby
  3. Swanee River Rock (Talkin' Bout That River)
  4. That's Enough
  5. Talkin' 'Bout You
  6. What Kind of Man Are You
  7. I Want a Little Girl
  8. How Long Blues
  9. Cosmic Ray
  10. The Genius After Hours
  11. Charlesville
  12. Bags of Blues
  13. Deed I Do
  14. Blue Funk
  15. Soul Brothers

Disc 4

  1. Bag's Guitar Blues
  2. Yes Indeed!
  3. I Had a Dream
  4. You Be My Baby
  5. Tell All the World About You
  6. My Bonnie
  7. Soul Meeting
  8. Hallelujah I Love Her So
  9. Blue Genius
  10. X-Ray Blues
  11. Love on My Mind
  12. The Spirit-Feel
  13. Blues Waltz
  14. In a Little Spanish Town
  15. Sherry
  16. (Night Time Is) The Right Time
  17. A Fool For You

Disc 5

  1. I've Got a Woman
  2. Talkin' Bout You
  3. Swanee River Rock (Talkin' 'Bout That River)
  4. Yes Indeed!
  5. Early in the Mornin'
  6. (Night Time Is) The Right Time
  7. Carrying That Load
  8. Carrying That Load
  9. Tell Me How Do You Feel
  10. Fathead
  11. Tin Tin Deo
  12. Bill For Bennie
  13. Hard Times
  14. Mean to Me
  15. Sweet Eyes
  16. Weird Beard
  17. Willow Weep For Me
  18. Tell the Truth
  19. What'd I Say Parts I & II

Disc 6

  1. What'd I Say Parts I & II
  2. Tell Me You'll Wait For Me
  3. Come Rain or Come Shine
  4. Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'
  5. Just For a Thrill
  6. You Won't Let Me Go
  7. Am I Blue
  8. The Spirit-Feel
  9. Frenesi
  10. Tell the Truth
  11. Drown in My Own Tears
  12. (Night Time Is) The Right
  13. What'd I Say
  14. Let the Good Times Roll
  15. Alexander's Ragtime Band
  16. Deed I Do
  17. When Your Lover Has Gone
  18. Two Years of Torture
  19. It Had to Be You
  20. I'm Movin' On
  21. I Believe to My Soul

Disc 7

  1. Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
  2. Unknown Title
  3. Piano Improvisation & Dialog
  4. Losing Hand & Dialog
  5. Little Rock Getaway & Dialog
  6. Kentucky Waltz
  7. Heartbreaker
  8. Heartbreaker & Dialog
  9. Piano Improvisation & Dialog #2
  10. Heartbreaker
  11. Losing Hand & Dialog #2
  12. Losing Hand & Dialog #3
  13. Losing Hand & Dialog #4
  14. Heartbreaker
  15. It Should've Been Me & Dialog
  16. Nobody Cares
  17. Piano Improvisation & Dialog #3
  18. Mess Around
  19. Funny (But I Still Love You)
  20. Sinner's Prayer
  21. Piano Improvisation & Dialog #4
  22. Low Society & Dialog #1
  23. Boogie Woogie
  24. Low Society & Dialog #2
  25. Worried Life Blues
  26. Come Back Baby
  27. Low Society
  28. (Night Time Is) The Right Time & Dialog
  29. Tell Me How Do You Feel
  30. Dialog
  31. It Had to Be You & Dialog
  32. My Buddy & Dialog
  33. Dialog
  34. When Your Lover Has Gone & Dialog
  35. I'm Beginning to See the Light
  36. Let the Good Times Roll & Dialog

Disc 8

  1. Lil' Darlin'
  2. Blues Waltz
  3. Let the Good Times Roll
  4. Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'
  5. Sticks and Stones
  6. My Baby! (I Love Her, Yes I Do)
  7. Drown in My Own Tears
  8. What'd I Say
  9. I Believe to My Soul
  10. Interview with Ahmet Ertegu

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ray Charles   Primary Artist,Organ,Piano,Celeste,Hammond Organ,Electric Piano,Alto Saxophone,Vocals,Background Vocals,Wurlitzer,Soloist
Marcus Belgrave   Trumpet,Soloist
Bob Brookmeyer   Valve Trombone
Paul Gonsalves   Tenor Saxophone,Soloist
Freddie Green   Guitar
Grey   Trombone
Milt Jackson   Guitar,Piano,Vibes,Soloist
Melba Liston   Trombone
Billy Mitchell   Tenor Saxophone
Cecil Payne   Baritone Saxophone
Oscar Pettiford   Bass
Marshall Royal   Alto Saxophone
Art Taylor   Drums
Wallace Davenport   Trumpet
Oscar Moore   Drums
Ernie Royal   Trumpet
Mickey Baker   Guitar
Jimmy Bell   Bass
Willis Conover   Narrator
Sam "The Man" Taylor   Tenor Saxophone,Soloist
Quentin Jackson   Trombone
Connie Kay   Drums
Percy Heath   Bass
Warren Bell   Baritone Saxophone
Clifton Best   Guitar
Edgar Blanchard   Guitar
Joe Bridgewater   Trumpet
Glenn Brooks   Drums
Kenny Burrell   Guitar
Candido Camero   Conga
Clark Terry   Trumpet
Leroy Cooper   Baritone Saxophone
Emmett Dennis   Baritone Saxophone
Jesse Drakes   Trumpet
Ahmet Ertegun   Vocals
Frank Fields   Bass,Bass Guitar
Teagle Fleming   Drums
Charlie Fowlkes   Baritone Saxophone
Panama Francis   Drums
O'Neil Gerald   Alto Saxophone
Philip Guilbeau   Trumpet
Joe Harris   Drums
Margie Hendrix   Vocals,Background Vocals
John Hunt   Trumpet
Wesley Jackson   Guitar
Dorothy Jones   Background Vocals
Lloyd Lambert   Bass,Bass Guitar
Charles Macey   Pedal Steel Guitar
Jose Mangual   Bongos
Wendell Marshall   Bass
Dave McRae   Baritone Saxophone
Frank Mitchell   Trumpet
Thomas Mitchell   Trombone
David "Fathead" Newman   Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Background Vocals,Soloist
William Peeples   Drums
Charlie Persip   Drums
Raelettes   Background Vocals
Mongo Santamaría   Conga
Roosevelt Sheffield   Bass
Alonzo Stewart   Drums
Jesse Stone   Vocals
Joe Tillman   Tenor Saxophone
Lloyd Trotman   Bass,Bass Guitar
Milt Turner   Drums
Riley Webb   Trumpet
Frank Wess   Flute,Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Jerry Wexler   Tambourine
Charles Whitley   Trumpet
Edgar Willis   Bass
Joshua Willis   Trumpet
Snooky Young   Trumpet
Allen Hanlon   Guitar
Earl-Jean   Background Vocals
Gwen Berry   Background Vocals
Eddie Jones   Bass
Joe Newman Quartet   Trumpet
Taylor Hackford   Conductor
Betty Smith   Background Vocals
Mary Ann Fisher   Vocals,Background Vocals
Lee "Ricci" Zedric Harper   Trumpet
Warren Hebrard   Tenor Saxophone
Priscilla "Pat" Moseley Lyles   Background Vocals
Ted Sommers   Drums
Paul E. West   Bass
August "Dimes" Dupont   Alto Saxophone
Dave McRea   Baritone Saxophone

Technical Credits

Charles Brown   Composer
Leroy Carr   Composer
Walter Davis   Composer
Lowell Fulson   Composer
Lloyd Glenn   Composer
Percy Mayfield   Composer
George Gershwin   Composer
Hank Snow   Composer
Irving Berlin   Composer
Ray Charles   Arranger,Composer
Titus Turner   Composer
Count Basie   Composer
Hank Crawford   Composer
Leonard Feather   Liner Notes
Johnny Hodges   Composer
Milt Jackson   Composer
Harry James   Composer
Quincy Jones   Arranger,Composer
Max Roach   Composer
Jimmy Rushing   Composer
Horace Silver   Composer
Fats Waller   Composer
Charlie Shavers   Composer
Ralph Burns   Arranger
Neal Hefti   Composer
Buddy Johnson   Composer
Oscar Moore   Composer
Sy Oliver   Composer
Joe Sullivan   Composer
Harold Arlen   Composer
Mort Shuman   Composer
Big Maceo Merriweather   Composer
T-Bone Walker   Composer
Chano Pozo   Composer
Andy Razaf   Composer
Herb Abramson   Producer
John "Johnny" Adriano Acea   Arranger
Fred E. Ahlert   Composer
Cohn   Arranger
Lil Armstrong   Composer
James Austin   Producer,Package Concept,Package Development
Harry Barris   Composer
Hugh Brown   Art Direction
Napoleon Brown   Composer
Sonny Burke   Composer
Ozzie Cadena   Composer
Bennie Hank Crawford   Composer
Walter Donaldson   Composer
Tom Dowd   Engineer
Duke Ellington   Composer
Ernie Wilkins   Arranger
Ahmet Ertegun   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes,Audio Production
Nesuhi Ertegun   Producer
Ira Gershwin   Composer
Henry Glover   Composer
Harry Lookofsky   Director
Nat Hentoff   Liner Notes
Isham Jones   Composer
Gus Kahn   Composer
Gary Kramer   Liner Notes
Jeff Lyons   Art Direction
Johnny Mercer   Composer
Billy Moll   Composer
Charles Morris   Composer
David "Fathead" Newman   Arranger,Composer
Doc Pomus   Composer
Don Raye   Composer
Fred Rose   Composer
Bill Schwartau   Engineer
Zenas Sears   Producer,Liner Notes
Jesse Stone   Arranger,Composer
Billy Taylor   Liner Notes
Roy Turk   Composer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Jerry Wexler   Producer,Liner Notes
David Ritz   Liner Notes
Lew Herman   Composer
Sam M. Lewis   Composer
Ren Grevatt   Liner Notes
Hal Hopper   Composer
Lowman Pauling   Composer
Bill Randle   Liner Notes
Eddie Jones   Composer
Harry Brooks   Composer
Harold Chapman   Engineer
Reggie Collins   Discographical Annotation
Alberto Dominguez   Composer
Joe Young   Composer
Ann Ronell   Composer
Tom Adair   Composer
Harry Akst   Composer
Don George   Composer
Ernie Burnett   Composer
Grant Clarke   Composer
Gordon Clifford   Composer
Walter Hirsch   Composer
Murray Mencher   Composer
Fleecie Moore   Composer
George Norton   Composer
Einar A. Swan   Composer
Renald Richard   Composer
Sid Robins   Composer
Sam Sweet   Composer
Sam Theard   Composer
Memphis Curtis   Composer
Mabel Wayne   Composer
Traditional   Composer
Joe Greene   Composer
Charles E. Calhoun   Composer
Sophia T. Fields   Producer
Ahmet Nugetre   Composer
Earl Singers Brown   Engineer
Kenneth Lee Karpe   Liner Notes
Ivan Miles   Engineer
Guy Remark   Liner Notes
Ricci Harper   Composer
Bud Allen   Composer

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