This is not a career retrospective per se, since it doesn't include any of Ray Charles' groundbreaking '50s R&B from his tenure at Atlantic Records. It is, however, an excellent greatest-hits collection covering his years at ABC-Paramount. As always, what's most impressive is the sheer stylistic breadth of Charles' music-making. Here you have, among other goodies, a Latin-tinged blues-rocker ("Unchain My Heart"), a reinvented Tin Pan Alley standard ("Georgia on My Mind"), and an unabashed country weeper ("I Can't Stop Loving You"). There's an early R&B tune written by the Motown team of Ashford & Simpson
("I Don't Need No Doctor"), a soulful cover of the Beatles
at their most classically tinged ("Eleanor Rigby"), and finally an all-out gospel assault on "America the Beautiful." Amazingly, it all fits together in a seamless whole. Essential listening.