Ray Charles (born Charles Raymond Offenberg, September 13, 1918, Chicago, Illinois, United States) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, vocal arranger and conductor who is best known as organizer and leader of The Ray Charles Singers. They are commonly mistaken for the back-up singers for the blind soulful pianist, Ray Charles.
The Ray Charles Singers were featured on Perry Como's records, radio shows and television shows for 35 years. The Ray Charles Singers are also known for a series of 30 choral record albums produced in the 1950s and 1960s for Essex, MGM, Decca and Command labels. Their singles charted from 1955 to 1970, with the most famous beloved singles, Love Me With All Your Heart (3/1964) and Al Di La (29/1964). As a vocalist, Charles, along with Julia Rinker Miller, is known for singing the theme song to the television series Three's Company ("Come and Knock on Our Door").
This CD contains two complete albums: Something Wonderful (Command 827)(1961) and Rome Revisted (Command 839)(1962). There are 24 songs.
Since Amazon.ca did not provide a song listing, I have compiled the song listing which is as follows:
SOMETHING WONDERFUL (Command 827)(1961):
02 EAST OF THE SUN
03 MY OLD FLAME
05 FOR ALL WE KNOW
06 SOFT LIGHTS AND SWEET MUSIC
07 I'M OVER HERE
08 DON'T BLAME ME
09 MY IDEAL
10 THESE FOOLISH THINGS
11 EMBRACEABLE YOU
ROME REVISITED (Command 839)(1962):
13 VIENI, VIENI
14 TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME
16 NON DIMENTICAR
17 TRAVELING DOWN A LONELY ROAD
18 FERRYBOAT SERENADE (FUNICULI FUNICULA)
20 NO VOCE, NA CHITTARA, E'O POCO 'E LUNA
21 THE WOODPECKER SONG
22 SUMMERTIME IN VENICE
23 SANTA LUCIA
24 ARRIVEDERCI, ROMA
1 The albums of Ray Charles Singers are hard to come by. So far, Varese has released Love Me With All Your Heart: the Command Performances (1995), and Collectors’ Choice Music also released 2 CDs: Something Special for Young Lovers (Command 866, 11/1964) and Al-Di-La And Other Extra-Special Songs For Young Lovers (Command 870, 45/1964). Now to have two of their albums on the Command label on 1 CD is simply “Wonderful.”
2 Sepia Records uses Cedar 24 bit Mastering. As per their high standard, the remastered sound is clean and vibrant, simply top of the line.
3 There is a 8-page booklet containing the original LP liner notes. The two front album covers are featured each on an entire page.
4 The price is certainly reasonable, especially from sellers. I bought mine from Amazon.co.uk for £5.31. But with the low Canadian $ plus shipping, I would rethink my strategy to wait and buy from sellers in the future.
1 There is no chart information on the booklet.
2 One page of the booklet was devoted to their advertisement. I would have preferred to have the back covers of the albums included too, one for each page.
I hope reissue labels, like Real Gone Music, Jasmine Records and Sepia Records will release more Ray Charles Singers albums in the future. The best will be the type by Real Gone Music: 8 Classics Albums on 4 CDs. I personally like to collect as many albums on Command label as possible, like Enoch Light, Tony Mottola and Dick Hyman (his latest CD release Provocative Piano I & II: my review elsewhere). If you like soothing choral singing, Ray Charles Singers is definitely up your alley. The sound is remastered exceedingly well. With the rarity of their albums, the price is certainly reasonable (from sellers). This CD is highly recommended.
Best recalled as Fifties back-up choral singers for Perry Como’s recordings plus his radio and television shows, The Ray Charles Singers, lead by their US-born musician, singer, songwriter, vocal arranger and conductor namesake, preceded the later-formed but similarly formulated Ray Conniff Singers. However, the smooth-as-silk sixteen-strong Ray Charles Singers generally succeeded with a more mellow sound which resulted in a series of popular choral albums during the Fifties and Sixties and gained much with the introduction of stereo sound. First time on CD, this combination of two Command albums, produced by Enoch Light, originally showcased the expanded spacious and startling advantages of the new sound technology in comparison with the previous boxed-in monaural or monophonic reproduction, with home hi-fi units similarly updated to recreate the depth and width of such sound revelation.
Now it’s possible to recall such stereo splendour with SOMETHING WONDERFUL, released in 1961, featuring eleven standards - amongst them EAST OF THE SUN, PARADISE, SOFT LIGHTS AND SWEET MUSIC and DON’T BLAME ME with the specially Charles-written I’M OVER HERE intended as a novelty gimmick number to promote the delights of two speaker technology. ROME REVISITED, released the following year, revs up the vocal action and stereophonic effects for a winning selection of songs, old and new with VIENI VIENI and FERRYBOAT SERENADE representing the former and VOLARE, NON DIMENTICAR and SUMMERTIME IN VENICE amongst the latter. TRAVELLING DOWN A LONELY ROAD is perhaps better known with alternate lyrics as STARS SHINE IN YOUR EYES.
Wonderful arrangements and orchestral support applies throughout with perfect remastering making this release a must for those who prefer their music to create a relaxing mood.