Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ray Charles/Cleo Laine

  • Porgy and Bess [RCA Victor, 1976] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Porgy and Bess [RCA Victor, 1976]
The problem with this Norman Granz brainstorm is Laine, a singer of formidable technique and zero soul who usually gives me tension headaches. But though she's nothing to write liner notes about, only rarely does her unnaturalness intrude--and she does do a great job with the score itself, which is no snap. Charles isn't always inspired--is he ever any more?--but the writing carries him over the smooth spots. Granz deserves credit for holding down the orchestrations and inviting Charles and his combo to improvise on the material. Of course, Granz might also unearth the Porgy and Bess he did twenty years ago with Ella and Louis--as might you. But this will do. B+