Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company CD + DVD Monster Music Superdisc

by | Mar 30, 2006 | CD+DVD | 0 comments

Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company CD + DVD Monster Music Superdisc Limited Edition MMU 44162
Video:  Titles are 1.78:1, bonus footage is 1.33:1
Audio: DD 5.1 In The Band, DTS 5.1 In The Band, PCM Stereo (96K), (CD is 44.1K stereo)
Extras:  About The Monster Surround Experience; Norman Seeff’s 1985 Photo Session Bonus Footage (5 min); Monster Home Theater Performance Tips; THX Optimizer; Digital Music Files
Length:  61 minutes (for audio program)
Rating:  ****

The music on this disc features collaborations (duets) with Ray Charles and B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Michael McDonald, Johnny Mathis, Gladys Knight, Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Cole, Take 6, and Poncho Sanchez.  It must have been my sample, but the CD had problems playing in two different players.  I eventually got it to play on the second one and it sounded good.  I did most of my listening with the DVD.  Unfortunately, there is no video for the music—only titles that scroll slowly down the screen with the album title, song title, and guest artist displayed.  Vocals are placed between the center and left and center and right speakers rather than coming strictly from the center.  Sound quality is excellent.  On this disc I preferred the DTS mix to the DD.  The multichannel mix isn’t overbearing and provides added interest to the material.

I was lucky enough to be a guest at the Las Vegas concert with Ray Charles sponsored by Monster Cable (where they give dealer awards at CES) a few years back.  It was an unforgettable experience.  This compilation features an excellent variety of top-name artists performing with Ray and brings back fond memories of that concert.  Phil Ramone and John Burk captured everything from a gospel choir to an 80-piece orchestra on a Sunday summer afternoon.  One of the more interesting tracks is Willie Nelson doing “It Was a Very Good Year.”  Perhaps it’s due to the association the song has with Frank Sinatra, but who knows?  “Hey Girl” sounds like it’s right off a Roberta Flack records from the late 70s/early 80s (in a good way).  Track 10 is a spiritual and track 13, the cut with Take 6, is an excellent surround demo track.  The “Duets” booklet that is included with the set includes additional background material, a brief introduction to each tune, and a quote from each of the guest artists.  It is an impressive set and with all the renewed interest in Ray Charles these days should find many a happy home.

Tracks included are: Here We Go Again with Norah Jones; Sweet Potato Pie with James Taylor; You Don’t Know Me with Diana Krall; Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word with Elton John; Fever with Natalie Cole; Do I Ever Cross Your Mind? with Bonnie Raitt; It Was A Very Good Year with Willie Nelson; Hey Girl with Michael McDonald; Sinner’s Prayer with B.B. King; Heaven Help Us All with Gladys Knight; Over The Rainbow with Johnny Mathis; Crazy Love with Van Morrison.  Bonus tracks: Unchain My Heart with Take 6; Mary Ann with Poncho Sanchez.

[Our earlier review of the higher-res SACD version of this disc is Here.]

— Brian Bloom

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