Ray Charles In Bakersfield (1968)
|Clockwise, starting left:
Alex Brown, Clydie King, Gwen Berry, Merry Clayton.
Compared to the impressive number of Ray Charles concerts that were recorded in Europe and Japan, American “live” recordings are relatively rare, especially where it concerns shows from the 1960s and 1970s. But after my recent ‘report’ on the taping of the Fresno concert, I can now describe a second U.S. show from a few months earlier in 1968 – this one taped in Bakersfield (CA), in July.
Just as the Fresno concert, this show was taped “from the audience” (possibly by the same person; the recording again is of a semi-professional, Nagra-level, quality).
|On October 16, 1968, this photo (regrettably a bit out of
focus) of the band was shot at a gig in Arizona.
Ray was caught in the best, and most talkative, of his moods. From track #9 onwards the Genius took minutes before almost every tune, bridging them with jokes and funny stories. Brother Ray’s comedy skills were probably never captured better.
Wallace Davenport led the band. Ray paid trumpet player Virgil Jones an – extremely rare – extensive compliment after his contribution to Soft Winds. And – also very rare – he asked bass player Roger Humphries to step forward to accompany ‘queen bee’ and “very powerful lady” Clydie King on Ode To Billy Joe. “Billy-O-Soul” Preston played the organ (regrettably, his pre-intermission solo act was not recorded).
This is probably the last live taping of The Raelettes with the Clayton/Brown/Berry/King line-up. The girls resigned in the last weeks of July ’68, when the Ray Charles group was filling two weeks at the Cocoanut Grove night club in LA (the possible source of the conflict is described here). Gwen “Squatty Roo” Berry had been with Ray for more than 10 years.
The setlist entails a relatively large number of (near*?) “first known live” recordings: #2, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and (though only in a small fragment), the Let’s Go Get Stoned part of #17. Something Inside Me (#11) is the only known live version of this song.
- Intro + Unidentified instrumental
- The Bright Lights And You Girl
- Georgia On My Mind
- Hallelujah I Just Love Her So
- The Sun Died
- You Made Me Love You
- Soft Winds
- I Won’t Leave
- Crying Time (with Gwen Berry)
- Something Inside Me
- I Can’t Stop Loving You
- Ode To Billy Joe (with Clydie King)
- Eleanor Rigby
- What’d I Say
- Outro (fragments of Let’s Go Get Stoned, Pop Goes The Weasel)
* Live versions of the numbers 9, 10, 13, 15, and (there in a complete version) Let’s Go Get Stoned have also survived through the release of the semi-bootleg It’s A Blues Thing, which must have been taped around the same date as this Bakersfield concert.