Case Number 22684: Small Claims Court

RAY CHARLES: LIVE IN FRANCE 1961

Eagle Rock Entertainment // 2011 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart // November 6th, 2011

The Charge

"Ladies and gentlemen, you've been entertained by the genius of Ray Charles."

The Case

The 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival let French (and European) audiences hear Ray Charles for the first time. Ray Charles: Live in France 1961 puts those four historic performances -- or chunks of them, at least -- on DVD.

The set list is as follows:

July 18, 1961
"The Story"
"Doodlin'"
"One Mint Julep"
"Let The Good Times Roll"
"Georgia on My Mind"
"Sticks and Stones"
"Hallelujah, I Love Her So"
"What'd I Say"
"The Story" **Bonus Track
"Sticks and Stones" **Bonus Track
"Yes Indeed" **Bonus Track
"I Believe to My Soul" **Bonus Track
"What'd I Say" **Bonus Track

July 22, 1961
"Hornful Soul"
"Let the Good Times Roll"
"Georgia on My Mind"
"My Bonnie"
"With You on My Mind"
"Ruby"
"Tell The Truth"
"I Wonder"
"Sticks and Stones"
"I Believe to My Soul"
"What'd I Say"
"I Wonder" **Bonus Track

You may have noticed lots of repetition in the set list, but the songs are just a little bit different each time. I'd say the best versions are in the July 22 concert; it's a high-energy performance that probably had the crowd mesmerized from "Let the Good Times Roll." It's also more varied, showing off Charles' gentle romantic crooning in "Ruby" before switching to the more powerful "Tell the Truth" with a Margie Hendrix solo, for example. In both full concerts everything's good, although the instrumentals that start his shows feel like he's just getting warmed up. Charles seems to get into the performance just a little more with each song, with "What'd I Say" ending each on a high note that undoubtedly sent audiences away happy.

The black-and-white film does a good job, for the most part, of providing an all-angles look at the concerts. There are plenty of closeups of Charles, with some shots of his hands on the keyboard and his feet tapping time. His combo and the Raeletts get their moments as well, although the camera was apparently right next to Charles throughout. Crowd shots show audience members dancing to the music or watching intently. I also appreciated the inclusion of the bilingual introductions in English and French; it just added to the feeling of being there.

The sound's mono, but the power of Charles' voice and the music come through. The picture shows its age, with flecks and lines, but it's still sharp.

If you've listened to Charles' music but haven't seen a full performance, Ray Charles: Live in France 1961 presents a rare opportunity. Chances are you'll be impressed as well as entertained by Ray Charles' genius.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 James A. Stewart; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Bonus Tracks

Accomplices
* RayCharles.com
http://raycharles.com/