(Album Review) “Genius Loves Company” by RAY CHARLES

(Album Review) “Genius Loves Company” by RAY CHARLES

On this day, February 13th, 2005, the legendary Ray Charles posthumously won 8 Grammys at the 2005 Grammy Awards for this incredible album “Genius Loves Company”.  The album featured the who’s who of singer-songwriters such as Norah Jones, Elton John, Johnny Mathis, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and scores of other artists from the jazz, singer-songwriter, blues, and Motown world.  This album especially shows how incredibly talented Ray Charles was.  Ray Charles was known for the hits “Tell Me What I’d Say”, which features Motown bluesy vibes to writing the state song for Georgia, with “Georgia On My Mind”, he even showed his love for country music by having Willie Nelson as a guest on this album.  I’m going to review each track.

  1.  “Here We Go Again”- featuring Norah Jones.  How I wish they would have a duet together.  Norah and Ray fit together beautifully like a glove.  They sound so beautiful and honest, yet have the voices that could cut through a smoke-filled room.  Don’t forget about the organ that fit perfectly in this song.  10/10
  2.  “Sweet Potato Pie”- featuring James Taylor.  The brass section and the piano section fit like a brand new tuxedo.  The song is an ode to the south that you could listen to while snapping your fingers while sipping on some sweet tea at Grandmama’s back porch swing.  The bluesy guitar solo was incredible and you can tell that James and Ray had so much fun during this song.  10/10
  3.  “You Don’t Know Me”- featuring Diana Krall.   Just listen to Ray tickle the ivories in this slow jam.  Diana Krall surprisingly fits amazing well in this duet with Ray Charles.  The ivories stand out beautifully in this song.  Krall croons wonderfully in the outro of the song as well.  9/10
  4.  “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”- featuring Elton John.  How did the universe not spontaneously combust getting two forces in Ray Charles and Elton John together on this song?  The guitar solo during the instrumental break is unreal as well.  There’s so much lifeforce in this song that it could cure cancer.  I’m serious.  Pack this song in a vial and distribute it around the world.  159/10
  5.  “Fever”- featuring Natalie Cole.  They took this Peggy Lee cover and made it into a sultry, scintillating cover, once again Ray makes it his own, and Natalie sounds like a siren in this song.  I picture this song in a smoke-filled jazz club in New Orleans and people swaying to the song in a smoke-filled room.  Natalie has such a wonderful voice.    8.5/10
  6.  “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”- featuring Bonnie Raitt.  Raitt adds simple yet intricate guitar work to incorporate a bit of blues into this ballad.  Honestly, it’s an okay rendition, it didn’t really sustain my attention.  6/10
  7.  “It Was A Good Year”- featuring Willie Nelson.  One thing about Willie Nelson is that he was always forthright in his vocal delivery, which sustained the listener’s attention.  Then, Ray Charles transitioned this from an acoustic folky ballad to incorporating an orchestral arrangement into this.  Both Willie and Ray brought different interpretations into this contemplative track.  Willie singing with the orchestral arrangement just didn’t fit in very well.  5/10
  8.  “Hey Girl” – featuring Michael McDonald.  I really dig the AM Rock/soft rock vibe to this song coupled with the soul and orchestral arrangements behind this song.  McDonald sang with the soul that he does, and what was great is that he blended in and didn’t try to overdo it.  I love the rhythm guitar that is subtly in the background in the song, it just adds swagger to the song.  The brass section solo was fantastic.  The keys that McDonald adds makes this such a delectable listen 8/10
  9. “Sinner’s Prayer”- featuring B.B. King. B.B. King just rules.  Takes this gospel song and adds his trademark blues in there.  WOW! The emotion behind this song.  It is matchless.  By the time Ray kicks in, the hand-clapping and finger snapping ensues.  The listener can tell that B.B. and Ray are absolutely having a blast in this song. You see how I ranked the song with Elton.  I’m adding a zero behind that. 1,590/10
  10. “Heaven Helps Us All”- featuring Gladys Knight.  This cry for social justice with Gladys Knight is so fitting today.  Adding a gospel choir in this mix adds so much emotion to this cut.  Gladys crying out to Jesus was so emotional too.  This cut brought tears to my eyes. Gladys calling for the congregation to pray with her was so beautiful too, it made me feel like I was in church on Sunday.  1,649/10
  11. “Over The Rainbow”- featuring Johnny Mathis.  This rendition of the beautiful song “Over The Rainbow” really coupled orchestration with a bit of a musical vibe to the song.  Johnny Mathis brings this song home with his crooning.  8.5/10
  12. “Crazy Love” – featuring Van Morrison.  The females backing this song added so much to the song.  The piano coupled with the guitar made this feel lush.  7/10.

What a fantastic record!  We miss you Ray Charles!  Check out “Genius Loves Company” in its entirety below:

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