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Ray Charles, his Orchestra, and the Raelettes - Live in Stockholm 1972 (Tangerine)

27 June 2022

This 50-year-old live set of Ray Charles at peak popularity was previously available as part of last year’s sprawling True Genius retrospective, and was the main attraction for many fans. The concert was then released as a strictly limited colored vinyl LP for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event. After a six-month pause, Live in Stockholm 1972 is now widely available as a black vinyl LP. Fans of the Genius may wish for deeper cuts or signature songs like “One Mint Julep” of “Hit the Road Jack,” but this brief eight-song set is a treasure capturing a glimpse of Charles in his prime as a global superstar entertainer. The show begins with “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” backed by a joyful walking bass line and the trumpets, trombones, and saxophones of his big band. The Raelettes add warmth and harmony, although they’re pretty low in the mix. Charles then segues into “What’d I Say,” digging into the familiar piano line. By this point, the Raelettes are better seated in the mix, but the piano is low until Charles transitions to the soulful and bluesy “I’ve Had My Fun.” It’s clear that we’re hearing the mix as it evolved in real time in the room. “That’s the blues!,” exclaims Charles after finishing “I’ve Had My Fun.” He then calls for a reprise just so he can hear his favorite horn passage again. The four Raelettes get a special introduction before being individually featured during the easygoing R&B groove of “Games People Play.” Charles fuses country and soul on “Don’t Change on Me,” a relatively recent song from 1970’s Love Country Style, followed by its megahit counterpart “I Can’t Stop Loving You” from 1962’s landmark Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. “Marie” is performed in an uptempo, Las Vegas-styled arrangement with prominent playing by the orchestra and saxophone solos passed around the bandstand. After teasing the attentive Swedish crowd with a mysterious intro, the show closes with a spirited and expanded version of 1957 classic “I’ve Got a Woman.” The band follows Charles through every playful twist and dynamic shift. At the end, the audience goes wild.