April 27, 2005

Amateur Music Review: Ray Charles and Crosby, Stills and Nash

As promised, I’m beginning to tackle the mountain of free CD’s the Missus picked up at her Vendor Expo, starting with a couple of American icons.

Ray Charles – The Genius Anthology

This collection is slightly misnamed. Not a greatest-hits or career summation, The Genius Anthology is a snapshot of Ray Charles’ early career. Covering 20 tracks and 10 years between his debut in 1949 with the Maxin Trio until the seminal “What’d I Say” in 1959, this collection is a fascinating look at the growth of an artist and one of the true innovators in American music. The early tracks feature Ray imitating Nat King Cole and Charles Brown, but over the course of the tracks his own voice emerges, culminating on the spine-tingling electric piano intro of “What’d I Say.” This album isn’t a must-own by any means, but will prove interesting and enjoyable to anyone into the history of music.

Crosby, Stills and Nash – Greatest Hits

How many different collections has “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” appeared on, anyway? This latest recompilation and remixing of these hippie icons is a worthy listen, though nothing new or different. This is a Neil Young-free record, so Greatest Hits is missing Young’s daring moments like “Helpless” or “Ohio”. CSN (and CSNY) have always been about individual songwriting, and that is very evident here. Stephen Stills music is the earthiest, focusing more on roots rock and country influences. Graham Nash’s work is the simplest, and David Crosby focuses on meandering hippie musings. Crosby’s work hasn’t aged well, and now seems pointless at times. Nash’s paeans to country life “Our House” and “Teach Your Children”, while the most pop on the collection, also hold up the best. As befitting a band who has been together for three decades in any one permutation or the other, the harmonies are air-tight.

Beyond these early-70’s classics, the album also includes a sampling of CSN’s later work, including the 80’s gem “Southern Cross”. This disc is a little scatterbrained though, jumping between the early-70’s and mid-80’s for no apparent reason.

Tomorrow I'll be back with some music you probably haven't heard of.

Posted by Frinklin at April 27, 2005 07:35 PM
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