PictureBeing black and white as well as 42 years old does not bode well for the quality of the image here, especially as it's actually an old television recording. The first concert is of superior quality to the second and I can imagine that a painstaking process to clean the transfer up was undertaken. That said, there are noticeable blemishes on the print, dot crawl and some interesting halos. Indeed at some points, Ray looked like he was in a Ready Break commercial! It also shows some banding across the image, which scrolls up or down the picture, but again this is due to age and the technology available at that time. Compression artefacts and blocking are visible, but again I don't wish to be harsh realising the source of the material was stored most likely in a loft for the last 40 years. Black levels are mixed, sometimes being slightly washed out and sometimes solid, but again I wouldn't expect reference quality. The second concert suffers even more with distortion lines appearing across the print but, as outlined in the liner notes, it took trying the tape on 4 machines until they found one capable of making the transfer, so I can appreciate the issue of difficulty.
SoundThe sound quality of this disk varies on both concerts due to the previously mentioned problems of the second tape. The first concerts' sound I found to be very nice for the age, detecting no hiss and good stereo separation. Vocals are quite clear, again bearing the source material in mind with bass levels being deep when present. Definitely better than the picture quality! The second concert however falls down considerably with noticeable levels of background hiss during the entire concert, letting the disk down. Crackling is also present, although thankfully it's sporadic and is more an irritation than an intrusion. Sound suffers from being more muted during this second concert and therefore it is more of a letdown after hearing the pleasant sounding first concert.
VerdictWhilst not being a fan of Ray Charles and not knowing really any amount of his music either, I was pleasantly surprised with the first concerts quality but subsequently my enthusiasm was dashed by the second. Having said that, I would say that this is purely a criticism of the quality of the picture and sound, as the talent of Ray Charles is captured here for prosperity and proves good music doesn't date. Fans won't be disappointed and if you liked “Ray”, maybe you should see the real thing after all.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.