Friday, September 24, 2010
BALLAD IN BLUE
aka BLUES FOR LOVERS
I've only been disappointed twice in the many live concerts I have seen over the years, once at a Beach Boys Concert in 1968 and once on July 12, 2000 at the Peace Center in Greenville, SC when I ponied up a fair amount of money for my family to see Ray Charles. Ray's band warmed up the audience with a performance and were followed by The Raelettes singing a song or two. Ray was then introduced and after receiving an obligatory standing ovation, he sang a few of his hits. After approximately 20 minutes he abruptly stood up, took a bow and walked offstage. The audience assumed this was intermission, until a voice came over the loudspeaker thanking us for coming to the concert. While I still feel "ripped off" by what I had to pay to see this concert, I'm still glad that my family got to see a true legend in the world of music. Now on to the movie, Ballad In Blue, in which Ray Charles does an excellent job of portraying Ray Charles.
As the opening credits roll for Ballad In Blue (aka Blues For Lovers) we hear Ray Charles singing "Let The Good Times Roll". The first scene in the movie is Ray doing an appearance in London at the City Institute For Sightless Children, where we find him and the children singing "Hit The Road Jack". After his appearance, Ray gives a woman and her son a ride home and this sets up the plot for the rest of the movie as Ray interacts with their lives. Ray really takes a liking to the boy who has just recently gone blind and offers to have a doctor, who may be able to restore the boy's sight, take a look at him. The mother is overly protective of her son and is reluctant to let him have an operation that might not be successful. The mother's boyfriend, also a musician, takes a job with Ray as an arranger and when the mother comes to visit her boyfriend, who is on tour with Ray in Paris, she agrees to the operation. In a very "English" ending, it is never revealed if the boy regains his sight.
As far as his acting ability, Ray Charles was as good as any of the professional actors in the cast. Ray's long time manager Joe Adams portrayed Ray's assistant Fred in Ballad In Blue and if I hadn't known who he was, I would just have assumed he was another actor. Besides Ray's acting parts, which in one scene had him driving a bumper car, the movie is able to include Ray singing throughout the movie with him either in concert or in rehearsal. Besides the songs already mentioned, Ray sings "Lucky Old Sun", "Unchain My Heart", "Hallelujah I Love Her So", "Don't Tell Me Your Troubles", "I Got A Woman", "Light Out of Darkness", "Busted", "Talkin' About You", and "What I'd Say".