Ray Charles Genius Hits the Road

Ray Charles Genius Hits the Road
This re-release from 1960 is a concept album based on American geography. It's anchored by Charles's signature song, "Georgia on my Mind" (his first number one), and includes well-known covers from the mid-century American songbook like "Basin Street Blues," "Blue Hawaii" and "Chattanooga Choo-Choo." Designed to market Charles to a broader (read: whiter) audience, ABC's material was saturated with enough overwrought strings to make a Bollywood soundtrack seem colourless and spare in comparison, featuring a choir that the Mormon Tabernacle scouts might want to enlist. This era lacked the grit and soul of his Atlantic years. Still, the material always comes alive in Charles's able hands, particularly when he sends the orchestra home and lays down the law with just his backing band, as on "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny." As an added bonus, this disc also includes seven extra road songs, a few of which are different from Rhino's release of the same name a decade ago. (Concord)