The Genius Sings the Blues

The Genius Sings the Blues

“Blues” was already a pretty elastic construction before Ray Charles came along, but The Genius Sings the Blues finds him stretching it even further. Not only did he recognize the music’s influence on Country-and-Western, he took a great Hank Snow number (“I’m Movin’ On”) all the way uptown with a Latin-tinged arrangement that also included steel guitar. Released shortly after his break with Atlantic Records and covering ground from his first session for the label (“The Midnight Hour”) to his last (“I Believe to My Soul”), Blues finds him wailing the most abject testimony (“Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I),” which sees no escape until death) to the most high-rolling (the exquisitely sexy duet with Margie Hendrix on “(The Night Time is) The Right Time”). What no doubt began as a simple cash-in LP ends up as a spotlight on Ray’s ability to practically own a genre.

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