Ray Charles, In The Beginning ’49-’52

Matt Houser

By Matt Houser

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

In The Beginning '49-'52

Ray Charles

Before he signed with Atlantic Records and became a chart-topping icon, teenager Ray Charles kicked around Florida, Washington and California with small jump-blues combos. In early 1949, the owner of a Los Angeles-based label called Down Beat Records issued several of his earliest recordings under the names the Maxin Trio, the Ray Charles Trio and Ray Charles and His Orchestra. In the Beginning '49-'52 collects every one of the 42 tracks released by Down Beat/Swing Time, including his first hit, "Confession Blues," which climbed to #2 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1949. This two-disc collection offers a compelling glimpse into the beginnings of Charles 'evolution from a Nat King Cole/Charles Brown-style vocalist into a gospel-inflected proto-soul legend.