The Absolutely Essential 3 CD Collection

Ray Charles

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The Absolutely Essential 3 CD Collection Review

by Steve Leggett

This three-disc box from Proper Records collects 60 vintage early tracks from the incomparable Ray Charles, including his classic singles “What I Say” and “I Got a Woman,” as well as fine versions of “Rockin’ Chair Blues,” “Get on the Right Track, Baby,” “Night Time Is the Right Time,” “Mess Around,” and “Lonely Avenue,” among countless other minor masterpieces. It’s no secret that this guy could sing, but the country-gospel passion he brought to these secular songs was nothing less than the merging of Saturday night and Sunday morning, with love at the center -- the very birth of soul music. Charles recorded frequently throughout his career, but if these 60 sides were all he had ever done, his legacy would still be more than assured.

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