Ray Charles
Ray Charles


5.0
classic

Review

by riffariffic7 USER (16 Reviews)
February 16th, 2015 | 10 replies


Release Date: 1957 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A legendary debut from a soulful, legendary man.

Genius stirs greatly in the hearts of those who have endured the most throughout the toughest of times. The early life of Ray "The Genius" Charles was no exception. Over the course of his youth, Ray was left to helplessly witness his brother's death at the age of five, soon after that tragedy he would go blind at the age of seven, only to later experience his mother's death at the age of fourteen and, after all of that heartache, struggle to stay financially afloat; only making a measly $4 per night while playing piano for the Ritz Theatre in LaVilla. But somehow, some way, Ray persevered. With that heart-warming and immediately recognizable smile of his, Ray shot up to the stars due to his endearing persistence to get his talents recognized by the world. Quickly becoming a legend, this notion was forever cemented by the release of phenomenal singles left-and-right, through Atlantic Records at the time of this recording, that helped pave the way to his eventual climb to the top. This self-titled release, later renamed Hallelujah I Love Her So, was Ray's debut album; brimming with a number of classic tracks that still strike a chord to this day.

"Ain't That Love" kicks off the album with the charming sound of jingle bells, a soulful vocal performance by Ray as well as an absolutely stunning saxophone solo from David "Fathead" Newman. The album itself juggles between being fun and heartbreaking with ease, as "Drown in My Own Tears" follows "Ain't That Love" with an emotionally-drenched ballad. Though the track evokes a joyous feel at first glance (due to the classical instruments used throughout), the lyrics bring to mind the first great tragedy in Ray's life, "I've cried so much / since you've been gone / I guess I'll drown in my own tears / I sit and cry / just like a child", which was his brother's death by drowning in a laundry tub. Even though this is a cover of a Henry Glover song from five years beforehand, "Drown in My Own Tears" feels like a deeply personal song for Charles; merely alluding to the loss of his brother makes this track a very poignant cover all-around.

Moving onto a far more upbeat tune comes "Mess Around", a song that can be credited as Ray's first hit single in 1953. The song is marvellous, jumping between a fantastic piano solo from The Genius and another remarkable sax solo from Fathead in the latter half of the track. Originally written by record producer Ahmet Erteg√ľn, the biopic based off of Charles, simply titled Ray, suggests that this was the song that broke Ray away from sounding too similar to Nat King Cole and Charles Brown. This is an immediately gripping track that will leave you toe-tapping along until the very end. Incredibly catchy and uplifting, of all the great tracks throughout this record, this may very well be the best song, especially considering how powerful Ray's vocals are throughout.

Keeping up the momentum, "Sinner's Prayer" and "Hallelujah I Love Her So" are outstanding as well; the latter song is ever so delightful, featuring yet another beautiful saxophone solo, as well as some brilliant orchestra sections, helping to compliment Ray's captivating vocal performance quite nicely. Closing out the record, "I Got a Woman" arises, delivering a low-key, but utterly striking anthem for the ages. The song can be found (ranked at #235) on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time list, and understandably so. "I Got a Woman" is immediately likeable thanks to it's gospel-inspired melodies along with a varied, flavourful vocal performance from The Genius himself. A wonderful way to close out an equally wonderful record.

Overall, Ray Charles is a pitch-perfect debut from the legendary man with the signature shades. Loaded from top-to-bottom with some of his classiest hits ever, the album is pure bliss from start-to-finish. "A Fool for You", "This Little Girl of Mine" and "Greenbacks" follow the classic tracks up extremely well with equal style and wit. For a man who had such a hard life whilst growing up, it is truly amazing to hear how happy he sounds while playing music (such as on this and his other great albums). Alike so many listeners before him, music was his escape. Ray Charles had a genuine love for music that shined so brightly within some of his most elegant records. This is one of them, a first-rate debut through-and-through.



Recent reviews by this author
Elvis Presley ElvisOtis Redding Pain in My Heart
Le Very PlaygroundThe Rolling Stones Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!
The Kinks Something Else by The KinksBoysetsfire The Day The Sun Went Out
user ratings (8)
Chart.
4.7
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
riffariffic7
February 16th 2015


432 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

1. "Ain't That Love" - 5/5

2. "Drown in My Own Tears" - 5/5

3. "Come Back Baby" - 4.5/5

4. "Sinner's Prayer" - 5/5

5. "Funny (But I Still Love You)" - 4.5/5

6. "Losing Hand" - 4.5/5

7. "A Fool for You" - 5/5

8. "Hallelujah I Love Her So" - 5/5

9. "Mess Around" - 5/5

10. "This Little Girl of Mine" - 5/5

11. "Mary Ann" - 5/5

12. "Greenbacks" - 5/5

13. "Don't You Know" - 4.5/5

14. "I Got a Woman" - 5/5

riffariffic7
February 16th 2015


432 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Had a lot of fun listening to this album. Took me quite a long time to finish this review though. Just happy to finally see it done so that I can actually enjoy the record without dissecting it as I have been on-and-off for the past few days now. "Ain't That Love", "Mess Around" and "I Got a Woman" are my favourite tracks off of here. Such a classic album. Yet another album I was shocked to see no reviews for (unless you count the review for the re-issue that was posted by Meatplow back in 2010).

manosg
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2015


7571 Comments


"Genius stirs greatly in the hearts of those who have endured the most throughout the toughest of times."

Amen brother. Great review once again, pos.

"Mess Around", "I Got a Woman" and "Drown in My Own Tears" are my favorites from this album. If you have the time, you might want to check Nina Simone - Pastel Blues which I think is right up your alley.

Digging: Dorthia Cottrell - Dorthia Cottrell

riffariffic7
February 16th 2015


432 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks for the suggestion, manosg. I've never heard of her before. I'll be sure to check her out in no time. You're awesome, man.

manosg
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2015


7571 Comments


No problem dude.

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
February 16th 2015


2344 Comments


Excellently written review, man. Pos'd hard. I'm quite ignorant to this style of music, but I would love to give his a music a go soon.

riffariffic7
February 17th 2015


432 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I appreciate it, man. His music definitely helps get your mind into a positive state. "Ain't That Love" kind of reminds me of the song from Toy Story, "You've Got a Friend in Me" by Randy Newman. I adore both songs. "Mess Around" and "I Got a Woman" are great as well. "Drown in My Own Tears" is a perfect song for a blue sort of day. Definitely give this album a spin sometime, I think you'd absolutely love it.

rockandmetaljunkie
February 23rd 2015


4717 Comments


Cheers for reviewing this one bro. Pos from me.

riffariffic7
February 23rd 2015


432 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers, man. Ray deserves all the credit in the world for his legendary work. It was an honour to review this album. I look forward to reviewing more classic albums that are up-to-par with this one.

rockandmetaljunkie
February 23rd 2015


4717 Comments


Great news man, this site is in dire need of people who have any interest in reviewing the classics.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy