Picks and Pans Review: At It Again

updated 11/24/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/24/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ray Charles

The title refers to Charles' return to the driving rhythm-and-blues sound he popularized more than two decades back. Now, though, he benefits from 70s R&B touches: the metallic funk of a deep bass line; disco-style cymbals and drum; hot guitar licks by John Goux; and his own nifty synthesizer playing. The product is high-intensity soul, and the Genius, as Charles is justifiably known, doesn't only sing this genre, he defines it. While Compared to What is the LP's finest track, A Poor Man's Song is rousing and Ophelia (the tune by the Band) is a stirring mix of rock and soul. / Can't Change It, a slow blues ballad written by Scottish rocker and Charles devotee Frankie Miller, is sung with soaring urgency. But Charles also slows it down, with Bruce Roberts and Carol Bayer Sager's tender Don't You Love Me Anymore? Anyway You Want To features a powerful gospel-type female chorus-it sounds like 400 or so Raelettes. The album's material is fine, but its brilliance lies in the Genius' voice. Sublimely coarse, slurring and plaintive, it is still the R&B vocal instrument against which all others must be measured.

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