The Ray Charles Singers

Al-Di-La and Other Extra-Special Songs for Young Lovers

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While it becomes painfully obvious from the very first note -- it bears saying for parties who have never heard the Milquetoast warblings of the Ray Charles Singers -- this musician is not the legendary R&B artist. In fact, this Ray Charles is actually a traditional pop bandleader/arranger named Charles Raymond Offenberg. His easy listening fare is comparable to that of his Command Records labelmate Enoch Light, although Light's interpretations were often anything but standard. Prior to the outing heard here, the Ray Charles Singers had backed actor Dick Van Dyke on the aptly-titled long-player Dick Van Dyke, Songs I Like (1964). Al-Di-La and Other Extra-Special Songs for Young Lovers (1964) was the follow-up to Something Special for Young Lovers (1964), which included Charles and company's signature side "Love Me With All Your Heart" that hit the upper echelons of the Pop chart during April of 1964. The album offers more of the same unimaginative, lightweight elevator/on-hold easy listening twaddle that Beatlemania and the rest of the rock & roll revolution were so desperately trying to break free from. There is a favorable kitsch factor making the "Ahhhhh .... Ohhhh .... Ooooh ..." introduction to the laid-back (read: practically comatose) "Girl From Ipanema" or the overly complex barbershop quartet harmonies gracing the cover of Lennon and McCartney's "Do You Want to Know a Secret" tolerable. On the other hand, the simultaneous whistling and suggestive lyrics to "Real Live Girl" from the show Little Me is eerie and a bit creepy. The quirky "Satin Doll" and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross' "Johann Sebastian Bach" are among the finest of the lot, while Toots Thielemans' "Bluesette" may have aged best of all thanks to the tasty electric organ fills -- that is, if listeners could just tune out the vocalists.

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