Ray Charles’ “lost” concert makes way for digital platforms

This image released by Tangerine Records shows the album art for

This image released by Tangerine Records shows the cover art for Ray Charles’ ‘A Message from the People’ album. (Tangerine Records via AP)


One night in Stockholm half a century ago, Ray Charles gave a moving and moving concert that was almost lost to history.

The evening begins with a finger-snapping rendition of Charles’ classic concert opener, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” followed by an electrifying “What’d I Say.” Charles then delivers two more rarities, a lazy, bluesy version of “I’ve Had My Fun” followed by “Games People Play”. It ends with a frantic “Marie” followed by an 8 minute long version of “I’ve Got a Woman”. The crowd goes wild.

Many details of that night are lost, such as the exact date, the location in the city that hosted Charles, and the identity of the mysterious engineer who succeeded in his work. But it is clear that it is a remarkable record.

“It captured an incredible moment where he was playing and singing particularly well and the band was on point, and so these are just great releases,” said John Burk, who produced Charles’ latest album, ” Genius Loves Company,” Grammy winner. “He was kind of at the height of his powers.”

In the middle of the songs, Charles can be heard interacting with the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce a bit of femininity right now – I like that myself,” he says before singing “Games People Play,” giving each of his four-part backing vocalists the Raelettes a chance. to shine.

“You get a window into the power of this artist back when he was relatively young and strong and at the top of his game. And it’s so cool that no one has heard of it before,” Burk says.

An eight-track distillation from that night makes its way to digital platforms on Friday. It was previously released on limited edition vinyl for Record Store Day in 2021.

The recording was discovered as Burk and the Ray Charles Foundation, led by Valerie Ervin, composed 2021’s “True Genius,” a limited-edition box set celebrating what would be its 90th anniversary by featuring 90 songs from Charles’ storied career. .

Burk wondered if there might be an exciting live recording in the vault. “Live in Stockholm” has been unearthed.

“A lot of the live recordings that are in the vaults aren’t necessarily super high quality, but it sounded great,” said Burk, co-founder of Exceleration Music, which releases the album through Tangerine Records. “There was also incredible energy from the audience.”

It was added to the box.

The reissue is just one album from Charles celebrating his 50th birthday this year. The year 1972 also saw the release of the studio album “A Message From the People”, perhaps Charles’ most socially responsible record. It will be remastered and re-released on June 17, capping a big year for Charles, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame last week.

“A Message From the People” contains “Hey Mister”, a powerful call to end hunger; “Abraham, Martin and John” about three slain icons of social change; a cover of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver; a version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and ends with the now classic “America the Beautiful”.

“I think it’s the only record he’s ever done where he made the whole record about a statement about the world and what’s going on,” Burk says. “It’s about hoping for what the American dream can be and it also highlights some of the obstacles to realizing that dream.”


Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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