Ray Charles The Genius Sings The Blues Numbered Limited Edition 180g LP
Featured in Michael Fremer's Heavy Rotation in the April 2011 Issue of Stereophile!
TAS Rated 4/5 Music, 3/5 Sonics in the April 2011 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
Numbered, Limited Edition!
This 1961 collection gathers 12 must-have songs from Charles' peak era.
Mobile Fidelity has righted the sonic wrongs that plagued earlier versions. You
won't find a better-sounding Ray Charles disc.
Genius doesn’t even begin to describe the greatness of The Genius Sings the
Blues. Comprised of a dozen songs Ray Charles made between 1952 and 1960, the
collection was released in 1961 by Atlantic Records to counter the singer’s
migration to rival ABC Paramount. What Atlantic originally underestimated is
that the album contained many of Charles’ greatest works, all unified by their
bluesy emotions and stirring arrangements. A classic of the soul and R&B canon,
The Genius Sings the Blues is a snapshot of the evolution of timeless American
music captured by the pianist’s indelible rhythmic pace, gospel roots, jazz
backgrounds, and Southern-styled accents. And it’s never sounded so good.
From the iconic cover art (a photo of Charles taken by legendary photographer
Lee Friedlander) to the distinguished music within, everything about the
thematic record is iconic. Now, nearly 50 years later, it can be heard in
pristine fidelity sourced from the original master tapes. Mobile Fidelity’s
engineers have taken great pains to ensure that every clink of the piano keys,
ache of Charles’ rolling voice, and rush of the backing arrangements sounds
better than they have since first being recorded in the studio.
Previous editions of The Genius Sings the Blues suffered from varying levels,
distracting static and noise, and inconsistent vocal balances. Mobile Fidelity
has gone back to the master tapes to correct these problems, giving music lovers
what is now unquestionably the best-sounding Charles album to stem from his peak
era. And he’s simply on fire.
Whether inhabiting the sadness in “Night Time (Is the Right Time)” or
personifying the loss of “Hard Times,” Charles invests each song with supreme
emotion and undeniable conviction that makes the lyrics ring true and the blues
resonate with cathartic pathos. Uptempo country blues numbers (“I’m Movin’ On,
“Early in the Mornin’”) balance the mournful slow fare, and again prove Charles
a master composer, interpreter, and musician who could make any style his own.
The Genius Sings the Blues also speaks to legendary jazz pianist Billy Taylor’s
initial impressions of Charles upon hearing him in a way in which few other
Charles recordings do.
Taylor recalled: “While playing through some new music for a projected Ruth
Brown record date, I was asked to listen to an original song played and sung by
a young composer and pianist from Seattle, Washington. I can still remember how
surprised I was to hear this kind of music from a Northwesterner. He reminded me
of Charles Brown, another pianist-singer who was very popular in the Forties,
but he had a very personal sound and there was something different about his
rhythmic approach. In his handling of melody he seemed to be using devices
similar to those used by Dinah Washington and a small group of popular singers
who allowed their gospel singing backgrounds to influence their interpretation
of popular songs... I was intrigued by the emotional quality projected by both
his piano playing and his unusual voice and was not surprised when Ahmet Ertegün
said that he wanted to let the young musician record some of his own material.
‘He communicates just like the old blues singers,’ Ahmet said.
Indeed, that innate blues aesthetic dominates this collection, as does Charles’
distinctive rhythmic mannerisms. Finally, hear them as they’ve always been
intended to be experienced.
"Mobile Fidelity has now remastered the original mono master tape-revealing both its beauty and its warts with startling clarity.
The beauty, of course, lies in the music." - Wayne Garcia, The Absolute Sound Magazine, April 2011, Issue 212
• Numbered, Limited Edition
• 180g Vinyl
1. Early In the Mornin'
2. Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I)
3. The Midnight Hour
4. The Right Time
5. Feelin' Sad
6. Ray's Blues
7. I'm Movin' On
8. I Believe To My Soul
9. Nobody Cares
10. Mr. Charles' Blues
11. Some Day Baby
12. I Wonder Who