Taylor Hackford, the director of “Ray,” has put together a beautiful tribute to
Ray Charles’ life as a great talent and inspiration. This collection of original
recordings, live recordings and “special” recordings was designed to be a
companion to the first movie soundtrack.
Hackford and Charles went into the recording studio early in 2003 to lay down
special tracks for the film. These special recordings included dramatic
renditions of music that needed to be live for the film; however, recordings of
live performances did not exist. Ray Charles, at 73 years of age, delivers a
rich performance that may be filled with more soul and pain than the originals
ever could have been. On "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand," Charles brings in Slash of Guns N’
Roses to play the Oscar Moore guitar solo. The result is sultry blues that is a
Ray Charles signature with a sweet mournful whine from Slash’s electric guitar.
“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” recorded with Betty Carter, is just classic
perfection. Charles has always been able to walk the line between musical genres
and bring in the best of everything to produce a sound that is original and all
Ray. “Makin’ Whoopee,” recorded live, is Ray Charles, the consummate live
performer, breathing new life into oft-recorded melodies that are made fresh by
his showmanship and playful style.
“Drown In My Own Tears” and “You Don’t Know Me” were recorded by Charles for the
film. His gospel, soulful versions of these originally up-tempo melodies are
what made these songs hits. Charles’ seasoned voice is intense, painful and
No one can deny that “America the Beautiful,” as performed by Charles, has set
the gold standard. He has turned this anthem into a love song which is
recognized all over the world as the only true version of this song.
Along with the 17-song CD is a special-edition DVD featuring original live
performances of “Don’t Set Me Free” and “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” as well
as the O-Genio Trailer, which contains samples of more live performances.
This set is de rigueur for any serious music collection and a joy for anyone who
loves our very own, true original, American Icon.