Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ray Charles: A 25th Anniversary in Show Business Salute to Ray Charles [ABC, 1971]
In a remarkable show of benevolent corporate cooperation, this devotes one eighteen-song disc to his work with Atlantic, when Charles was inventing soul music, and another to his work with ABC, when he was demonstrating its apparently limitless flexibility. This is the only artist in history who's moved back and forth between jazz and rock and pop without the slightest sense of strain. I find that rock--the soul style he developed, not the Beatles covers--puts useful restraints on his taste, the limitless flexibility of which hasn't always served him well. But I'll sample anything he wants to serve up. A+