Ray Charles Genius Loves Company
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- Released: August 31, 2004
- Originally Released: 2004
- Label: Concord Records
Rolling Stone - p.141Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "A bittersweet duets record....[The album] features the veteran soul innovator crooning sweetly on several decades of standards..."
Down Beat - p.663 stars out of 5 - "[G]entle pacing helps the encounters feel unforced and palpably intimate..."
Living Blues - pp.48-50"Charles himself is in fine, typically elastic voice throughout."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1164 stars out of 5 - "Thankfully, nobody disappoints."
- 1.Here We Go Again - (featuring Norah Jones)
- 2.Sweet Potato Pie - (featuring James Taylor)
- 3.You Don't Know Me - (featuring Diana Krall)
- 4.Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word - (featuring Elton John)
- 5.Fever - (featuring Natalie Cole)
- 6.Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? - (featuring Bonnie Raitt)
- 7.It Was A Very Good Year - (featuring Willie Nelson)
- 8.Hey Girl - (featuring Michael McDonald)
- 9.Sinner's Prayer - (featuring B.B. King)
- 10.Heaven Help Us All - (featuring Gladys Knight)
- 11.Over The Rainbow - (featuring Johnny Mathis)
- 12.Crazy Love - (live, featuring Van Morrison)
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Personnel: Ray Charles (vocals, piano); B.B. King, Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Bonnie Raitt (vocals, slide guitar); Norah Jones (vocals, piano); Michael McDonald (vocals, keyboards); Diana Krall, Elton John, James Taylor , Johnny Mathis, Van Morrison, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight (vocals); Danny Jacob, George Marinelli, Jeff Mironov, Michael Landau, Michael Thompson , George Doering, Charles Fearing, Irv Kramer (guitar); Randy Waldman (piano, keyboards); Alan Pasqua (piano); Billy Preston (Hammond b-3 organ); Michael Bearden (keyboards); David Hayes, Abraham Laboriel, Sr. , Trey Henry, Tom Fowler (bass guitar); James Gadson, Jim Keltner, Ray Brinker, Shawn Pelton (drums); Bashiri Johnson (percussion).
Though Ray Charles, one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, was never in need of vocal assistance, he was no stranger to duets either (one of his finest records is a duet album with Betty Carter). For as much of a musical giant as he was, Brother Ray knew how to share the spotlight, as evidenced by GENIUS LOVES COMPANY, his final project before his 2004 passing. In keeping with the eclectic nature of Charles's artistry, he partners with a wide assortment of performers here.
Charles is joined by Elton John on a soulful exploration of the latter's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," and sidles up next to Willie Nelson for a haunting version of the Frank Sinatra hit "It Was a Very Good Year," made all the more poignant in retrospect by its posthumous nature. Of course, it's not all bittersweet melancholy; Charles teams with Van Morrison for a jubilant soul/gospel reading of Van's MOONDANCE tune "Crazy Love," and the duet with James Taylor on the upbeat "Sweet Potato Pie" is probably the sassiest, perkiest thing in which Taylor's ever been involved. GENIUS LOVES COMPANY is a swan song that fittingly finds the titular genius surrounded by friends from varied musical worlds, all of whom he's touched with his rare gift.
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