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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Soul - Released January 1, 2002 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released August 15, 1987 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released May 1, 2012 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released October 11, 2011 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released August 15, 1987 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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R&B - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - The Qobuz Standard
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Rock - Released May 1, 2012 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 18, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 1, 2002 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released September 14, 2004 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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R&B - Released September 20, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Ray Charles' seminal recordings for Atlantic have been boxed once before, as the triple-disc 1991 set The Birth of Soul. That box contained 53 tracks, the best moments of what is arguably the best period of Charles' career, but Rhino/Atlantic's 2005 seven-disc sequel, Pure Genius, doesn't bother with merely the highlights: as its subtitle makes clear, this is The Complete Atlantic Recordings (1952-1959). This is undeniably a major historical release, since it gathers all of the recordings Charles made at his creative peak, not just as a leader, but as a sideman for his saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and sides he recorded with jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson. Also, it's not limited to studio recordings -- live sessions, later issued on the LPs Ray Charles in Person and Ray Charles at Newport, are here too. Despite the abundance of music here, there's not much that hasn't seen the light of day before. It may not seem that way at first glance, since the seventh disc contains nothing but unreleased material, but the great majority of that is devoted to a full-length rehearsal session with producer Ahmet Ertegun from 1953 -- something that is interesting to hear once, since it does give some insights into Ertegun and Charles' working relationship and how Ray acted in the studio, but even then, it's not exactly revelatory. So, apart from that rehearsal, outtakes of "(Night Time Is) The Right Time" and "Tell Me How Do You Feel" and an excellent DVD of Ray live at Newport from 1960, Pure Genius is devoted to material that has been reissued extensively during the CD era -- which is another way of saying that most fans will have this music already. Still, presented here in chronological order according to recording sessions, it's hard not to marvel at Charles' development as an artist and be astonished by his range. That is what makes this set worthwhile as something more than a library piece -- listening to the first six discs from beginning to end reveals exactly how restless and creative Ray was during this period. Most listeners will be satisfied by more concise collections of this period -- and even those who truly love the hard R&B and soul of Charles' Atlantic hits will likely find The Birth of Soul a more satisfying box, since it is devoted to that sound, whereas the rest of the music here that's not on the 1991 box is largely devoted to jazz sides and live performances -- but any serious fan or historian of American music will find this set essential. (Nevertheless, they may find the packaging of the set somewhat infuriating: it's a clever, well-designed replica of an old-fashioned, all-in-one record player, with the hardcover book and eight discs stored inside. It's a nice package, but a bit impractical, particularly for those who just want the music.) © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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R&B - Released July 24, 2012 | Rhino Atlantic

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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R&B - Released September 24, 1991 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
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Soul - Released June 2, 2009 | Concord Records

Distinctions Best New Reissue
Blessed with an intuitive genius that illuminated his entire career, Ray Charles sensed that country music and the blues had a common soul that he could touch with his expressive voice and natural gifts for phrasing. Having left Atlantic Records for the ABC label where he was guaranteed artistic freedom, Charles decided to step through the looking glass; in the middle of the civil rights movement he turned country music into lush, R&B-influenced 60s pop, blurring racial and artistic barriers in the process. As proof of his success, the single, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” (written by white country star Don Gibson) spent five weeks at #1 on the pop charts and sixteen weeks at #1 on the R&B charts before winning the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording.  As fresh today as when they were recorded, no context is required to appreciate these sublime tracks, which have now been combined into a single package.  Charles knew a hit song when he heard it and he convincingly transformed a well-known track like Hank Williams’ “Your Cheating Heart” into a sweet, sexy ballad that seems as right as the original.  For instrumental backup, Charles used two modes: strings and vocal choir by arranger Marty Paich for ballads like “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and punchier swing band arrangements by famed composer/arranger Gerald Wilson for tracks like “Hey Good Lookin’.” While a snappy, brass-led version of Williams’ “Move it Over” is a revelation, the utterly transformative version of one of country music’s most storied touchstones, “You Are My Sunshine,” featuring Charles in full Atlantic-era R&B mode—complete with Raelettes—is spectacular.  One of the finest moments in an acclaimed career, the expansive vision and charismatic vocals heard here are still breathtaking. © Robert Baird / Qobuz