Ray Charles

The Genius Hits the Road

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In keeping with his jazz/pop crossover ambitions, Ray Charles decided to record a concept album of sorts with a dozen songs devoted to various parts of the U.S. -- "Alabamy Bound," "Georgia on My Mind," "Moonlight in Vermont," "California, Here I Come," "Blue Hawaii," and more. The crossover vibe is further heightened by the brassy big-band arrangements, and material from the likes of Al Jolson and Hoagy Carmichael. It sounds a bit corny now, with an in-your-face gung-ho cheer. But it did what Charles wanted it to do, reaching the Top Ten of the album charts, and spinning off a big hit with "Georgia on My Mind." Richie Unterberger

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