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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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RAY CHARLES

Live in Paris

Frémeaux & Associés
FA 5466

 

 

CD1

1. I Wonder

2. Sticks and Stones

3. My Baby

4. Just for a Thrill

5. Margie

6. Moanin’

7. Alexander’s Ragtime Band

8. I Believe to My Soul

9. My Bonnie

10. I’ve Got News For You

11. Yes Indeed

12. Hit the Road Jack

13. What’d I Say

14. Let the Good Times Roll

15. Come Rain or Come Shine

16. Hallelujah, I Love Her So

17. I’m Going to Move to the Outskirts of Town

18. Georgia on My Mind

CD2

1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band

2. I Wonder

3. I Believe to My Soul

4. Hit the Road Jack

5. What’d I Say

6. Georgia on My Mind

7. Margie

8. Come Rain or Come Shine

9. Hallelujah, I Love Her So

10. Careless Love

11. I Got a Woman

12. Doodlin’ Warm Up

13. Doodlin’

14. One Mint Julep

15. Let the Good Times Roll

16. Untitled Blues

17. Alexander’s Ragtime Band

CD3

1. The Right Time

2. Hit the Road Jack

3. I Believe to My Soul

4. My Bonnie

5. Unchain My Heart

6. I Can’t Stop Loving You

7. Bye Bye Love

8. Yes Indeed

9. What’d I Say

10. Georgia on My Mind

11. Hide Nor Hair

12. Careless Love

13. Danger Zone

14. Marie

15. Drown in My Own Tears

16. Yes Indeed

17. Ray’s French Intro

18. One Mint Julep

19. Let the Good Times Roll

20. Margie

21. Tell the Truth

Ray Charles – Vocals, piano, organ

Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt – Trumpets

Henderson Chambers, James Lee Harbert, Keg Johnson, Leon Comegys – Trombones

Hank Crawford, Rudy Powell – Alto sax

David Newman - Tenor sax, alto sax, flute

Don Wilkerson - Tenor sax

Leroy Cooper - Baritone sax

Bruno Carr – Drums

Sonny Forriest – Guitar

Edgar Willis – Bass

The Raelettes: Gwen Berry, Margie Hendricks, Pat Lyles, Darlene McRea – Vocals

In my review of one of Ray Charles’ albums, I noted that he flowered when performing before an audience. That is certainly true of this triple-CD collection, which gathers together recordings of his Paris concerts in October 1961 and May 1962. The 1961 tracks fill the first CD and the first five tracks of the second CD, while the 1962 concerts occupy the remainder. One feels that the audience’s presence and the live settings at the Palais des Sports and the Olympia Theatre encourage Ray to improvise and add many a yell and shout to emphasise the emotion in the songs.

The atmosphere might not have been so well suited to the enjoyment of music, as this was the period of the Algerian War. Algerians had been letting off bombs in Paris, and the French police had arrested thousands of Algerian demonstrators and imprisoned them in the Palais des Sports, where some of them still were on the day of the concert. As Ray Charles recounts in his autobiography, he received an assurance from the Algerians that there would be no bombing on Ray’s route to the venue.

1962 was the year when Ray released Modern Sounds in County and Western Music, an album which suggested that Ray was adventurous enough to branch out into a genre he had never previously tackled. Yet most of the repertoire on these discs is familiar fare, although he does perform Careless Love, Bye Bye Love and I Can’t Stop Loving You, which were on the “C & W” album.

The concerts include many of Ray’s hits, including his most popular successes like Hit the Road Jack, I Can’t Stop Loving You and Georgia on My Mind. The last of these benefits from Ray’s organ accompaniment, David Newman’s flute obbligato and the way that Charles takes the song very slowly and quietly. In fact Ray’s use of the Hammond organ adds quite a lot to the effect of these tracks. His use of this instrument accentuates the gospel influences on much of his work.

The first CD illustrates the wide range of Ray’s talent: from the blues (e.g. What’d I Say), soul and gospel (My Baby, a touching duet with Margie Hendricks) to jazz (Alexander’s Ragtime Band). Margie is a good example of Ray’s ability to keep a song riding on an intrinsic pulse while the vocalist varies the beat and the expression. He uses his voice like a jazz instrumentalist: improvising freely and varying the dynamics.

The other CDs follow very much the same pattern, even including some of the same songs., but Ray injects them with the same intense energy as he always does. My favourite track from the 1962 recordings is the one entitled humbly Untitled Blues. It lets Ray loose at the piano, accompanied only by bass and drums (and Ray’s humming), for a glorious eight minutes of jazzy blues, displaying his often-overlooked skill at the piano.

The sound quality is variable, with some of the acoustics sounding like the inside of a tin box. The sound in the Olympia is better than that in the cavernous Palais des Sports. The Raelettes’ vocals can have the occasional touch of shrillness. But this three-CD album shows Ray Charles at his most crowd-pleasing. He may please you too.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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