Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company – Vinyl Review

by | May 23, 2005 | Special Features | 0 comments

Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company (Duets with Natalie Cole, Elton
John, Norah Jones, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, Michael
McDonald, Johnny Mathis, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt,
James Taylor) – Concord Records/Pure Audiophile Records PA-009 (2) ***:

This is the Grammy-winning album which has put Concord Records in a
very good place financially, and has been released on both SACD and CD.
Dennis Cassidy of Pure Audiophile obtained the original analog
two-track master tapes, and has transferred them to four LP sides of
HQ-180 gram virgin vinyl with three tracks per side in this limited
edition package. The grooves are spread out on each side much as the 45
rpm audiophile 12-inchers, thus reducing groove echo and distortion. A
wonderful 12-inch-square photo of Ray adorns the inside of the album –
something you don’t get on either of the 5-inch formats.

I compared the CD layer, SACD stereo mix and the vinyl set. Let’s
dispense with the CD – sounds opaque, “pushed” and rather lifeless.
Some of the instrumental accompaniment sounds a bit too
electronic/synth-like. I found the SACD – playing the stereo mix on my
best two-channel Sony player with its Dan Wright mods – just about
identical to the LPs. Possibly a modicum more “air” around the various
voices on the vinyl, but extremely subtle. Also the vinyl seemed to
have a slightly deeper bass end. At this point it’s not really needed
to talk about the musical aspects of this final Ray Charles album, but
I should say that I’m one of those who feel it’s far from a total
success – in spite of the Grammy. Some of the duets are good but others
fall flat, and perhaps some of the singers shouldn’t even have been
selected to sing with Ray. But for me the saddest part is the weakened
voice of Ray, heard clearly in some of the duets such as the one with
Willie Nelson on It Was a Very Good Year, and now heard even more
clearly on this technically superb vinyl transfer.

Tracks: Here We Go Again, Sweet Potato Pie, You Don’t Know Me, Sorry
Seems to be the Hardest Word, Fever, Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?, It Was
a Very Good Year, Hey Girl, Sinner’s Prayer, Heaven Help Us All, Over
the Rainbow, Crazy Love.

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