Box sets as catalog ghetto
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Dec. 23, 2011
Ray CharlesSingular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles (Concord)
Ray Charles left Atlantic Records for a deal with ABC that was amazingly lucrative for 1959. The deal included ownership of his master recordings after five years, his own imprint, and an unheard of 75% royalty rate. Much of the results of that agreement are present on this 5-CD set covering 1960-1972, a total of 106 A- and B-sides. With a newfound artistic freedom, Charles explored jazz with a large band that was at times orchestral; turned country music on its ear with hit tunes from Hank Williams, Don Gibson, and Buck Owens; and covered the Great American Songbook with unique elegance and soul. Some of the soul man's biggest hits are here, including "Georgia on My Mind," "Crying Time," and "Hit the Road Jack," but there's plenty of curiosities here: dark Percy Mayfield composition "The Danger Zone," an oddly psychedelicized rendition of the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," a funked-up "Ring of Fire," and the original "I Don't Need No Doctor." Sturdy packaging, sparkling sound, and amply illustrated liner notes by Billy Vera make this set worthy of Charles' Singular Genius.