Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Ray Charles Soul of the Holy Land - The Lost Concert|
Actors: Ray Charles, Charles Ray
Genres: Kids & Family, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 11/09/2004
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Great film, great performance, very poor sound
David J. Rosen | Birmingham, AL USA | 12/11/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Soul of the Holy Land" is a real treat for many reasons. The first is that it brings to life Ray's historic visit to Israel, capturing on film his meeting with David Ben-Gurion and his travels to various historic sights. Ray writes about this visit fondly in his autobiography, "Brother Ray". He describes very personable conversations with Ben-Gurion in which a real connection was made between the two. The snippets of this meeting chosen for the film are more best described as surreal than comfortable, but the window it provides to this short passage in Ray's story is fascinating. A kibbutz serenading Ray to "Hava Nagila" while he figures out the piano chords beneath the song is perhaps the most priceless moment in the film. Ray returns the favor with a short, off-the-cuff rendition of "Heaven Help Us All."
Another reason that this film stands out is that it captures Ray in an early 70s concert. His artistic output during this period of time in his career remains highly underrated by critics, causing most of his music from these years to pratically vanish from the face of the earth (only one of his full 70s albums is currently available on CD, with scattered songs found on compilation CDs here and there). The music from this show comes almost exclusively from this period, with only a couple nods to his more famous early 60s output and one to his legendary 50s catalog. It is the type of setlist you will not find on any other available live Ray Charles recordings. The arrangements of the music are energetic, funky, involved, and vibrant. The band is incredibly lively and obviously having a blast, which contrasts with the more stoic look they tend to display on all of Ray's other videos. Ray's voice during the 1970s, while not as intrinsically compelling as it was during his 1950s and early 1960s prime, carried a special resonance and hard gospel flavor that is absent from other periods, making this a unique and endlessly interesting period for fans of Ray's vocals. It is a chapter of Ray's work that has become, for the most part, lost in the middle of his 50s and 60s highpoint, along with his more readily available 80s, 90s, and 00's albums.
Unfortunately, this DVD misses a great opportunity to bring this "lost" period more to the forefront. It sounds as if zero audio mastering has been done in the conversion from the original 1970s documentary to the 2004 DVD. The sound is possibly the worst sound I've heard on an official concert release. This is not to say it is unlistenable, but it can often be an extremely frustrating listen. Ray's performances on rare treasures such as "Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma", "The Bright Lights & You Girl", and "I Surrender, Dear" are captivating, but the viewer is forced to use his imagination in order to paint a more complete picture of Ray's finished product.
Thus, "Soul of the Holy Land" is best viewed as an interesting documentary film rather than a great Ray Charles concert in which to watch and listen. This perspective can allow the viewer to be impressed with the unique visit and rare glimpse of Ray's performance style in the 1970s, rather than let failures of the DVD producers completely overwhelm ones enjoyment.
2. I Surrender, Dear
3. The Long and Winding Road
4. Hold On I'm Coming
5. The Bright Lights & You Girl (inexplicably mislabeled on the DVD as "I'll Never Stand in Your Way")
6. first visit with David Ben-Gurion
7. Let the Good Times Roll
8. Hava Nagila (with a kibbutz and David Ben-Gurion)
9. Heaven Help Us All / Scotia Blues (Blues for Big Scotia)
11. Feel So Bad
12. Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma
13. Holy Land tour
14. Shake (Sam Cooke's song, not "Shake Your Tailfeather" as it has been listed as on various websites)
15. I Can't Stop Loving You
16. Gone Soon (?) / What'd I Say / outro