Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters

Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters

by Ray Charles


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Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters

There can be no doubt about the excitement producer John Burk felt when going through Ray Charles' studio vault and discovering hundreds of unreleased songs. Burk, who produced Charles' final studio album, Genius Loves Company, narrowed the massive selection down to nine songs from there, along with one additional track he licensed from Sony. He assembled the album from material recorded between the '70s and the '90s, trying to assemble the flow of an actual album using genuinely unreleased tunes. Many of them were in various stages of completion; some were merely sketch demos. Burk did what has become de rigueur in the 21st century: he added studio players to complete "unfinished" tracks. Depending on your historical point of view, this can be problematic: would it have been better to simply present the songs as they were? Perhaps. That said, what is here is tastefully done and feels at least somewhat organic. He respectfully treated the source material as economically as possible. This was made easier because Charles' singing -- even on the demos -- is top grade. "Love's Gonna Bite You Back" from 1980 weaves soul, gospel, and jazz in a moving arrangement with a full original studio band including horns and strings. "It Hurts to Be in Love," from the same period, is a nocturnal soul-blues with strings; with Charles on Rhodes, and the band tight, bright, bold, and untouched. "The Wheel of Fortune" from a 1972 session features studio horns, strings, and Charles' voice and smoking piano; Burk added Chuck Berghofer's upright bass and Greg Field's drums to finish the cut beautifully. "I'm Gonna Keep on Singin'" is a finished track; nothing was added. It features killer vibes work and the Raylettes and it's pure Charles' R&B. "Isn't It Wonderful" is the sexiest cut on the set, with Larry Goldings and others filling it out naturally. Problems arise with the skeletal blues demo, "There'll Be Some Changes Made," where added musicians including Keb' Mo''s guitar and Bobby Sparks' organ create a distance between the emotion in the vocal and the slicker accompaniment. The same feeling pervades "I Don't Want No One Else But You," where a larger studio band recorded over Charles' own; it's too polished to feel natural. The set closes dramatically with a soulful reading of Kris Kristofferson's "Why Me Lord" as Charles plays a funky electric piano and sings gospelized backup to Johnny Cash's lead vocals. This wasn't in Charles' vault, but it belongs here. While there are some aesthetic and historical issues with this type of recording (perhaps there should have been a bonus disc of the original tracks), Burk did an admirable job of presenting Charles as the genius he was; giving fans a solid set of new performances.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/26/2010
Label: Imports
UPC: 0888072321960
catalogNumber: 5003349

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Ray Charles   Primary Artist,Piano,Keyboards,Vocals
Larry Goldings   Piano,Hammond B3
Chuck Berghofer   Bass
Ray Brinker   Drums
George Doering   Guitar,Rhythm Guitar
Gary Grant   Trumpet
Trey Henry   Bass
Alan Kaplan   Trombone
Keb' Mo'   Guitar
Gregg Field   Drums
Bobby Sparks   Hammond B3
Eric Benét   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Kris Kristofferson   Composer
Ray Charles   Producer
Bennie Benjamin   Composer
Hank Cochran   Composer
Billy Sherrill   Producer
Rudy Toombs   Composer
George David Weiss   Composer
Bill Dahl   Liner Notes
Norman Seeff   Cover Photo
Abbey Anna   Art Direction
Joel Webster   Composer
W. Benton Overstreet   Composer
Seth Presant   Engineer
Andrew Pham   Cover Design
Julius Dixon   Composer
Richard Edmond   Engineer
William Blackstone   Composer
Limuel Taylor   Composer
Bob Gratis   Engineer

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Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great music and no one is like Mr. Charles. It lacks that great sound like the last one? What changed?