Following two extremely successful decades at the intersection between pop, gospel, R&B, blues and soul, the great Ray Charles had already made a name for himself on the world's stage by the time of this 1968 performance at the Pleyel venue in Paris. He is joined by a full orchestra, which serves to elevate his voice and wrap swing around his piano chords, as well as his usual house band, the Raelettes, who provide gorgeous, raspy backing vocals that mix beautifully with his own famous tone.
Part two starts with an upbeat version of "The Bright Lights and You Girl," a track that gives Ray the space to show off all the character in his voice. It is a lavish opening: piano keys bounce, the band swings, cymbals crash and Ray riffs like only he could. Notable moments from this segment also include the majestic ode to his Southern upbringing, "Georgia On My Mind" and a unique interpretation of "Eleanor Rigby" – Ray was known for playing "Yesterday," but less so for this Beatles classic.