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09 April 2010

Gladys Knight & The Pips Ft. Ray Charles: Live In Los Angeles (1977)

In this show the great Gladys Knight & The Pips - in their absolute prime in 1977* - played a powerful set, including five tunes (as well as some deftly filmed hanging out) from Ray Charles. First The Pips brought The Raelettes on stage. But even then Ray's guest role came as a complete surprise for the audience. Gladys 'unwrapped' it with a good feeling for drama.
The concert was filmed at the outdoor Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, on 23 September (newspapers of 23 and 24 September carried a story about complaints filed against the theatre for violating an LA noise ordinance during a Gladys Knight concert). The show was directed by Marty Callner.

The documentary footage at the beginning of the film also includes a few sequences of the show's rehearsals at the Greek Theatre. Gladys and Ray explored a duet on I've Got to Use My Imagination, which regrettably didn't make it to the evening show, and on Georgia (which proved why Gladys should have been the only artist to sing this song with Ray). 

  1. How Can You Say That Ain't Love
  2. Every Beat Of My Heart
  3. Every Single Day
  4. On And On
  5. Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
  6. Midnight Train To Georgia
  7. Evergreen
  8. The Way We Were
  9. I've Got To Use My Imagination
  10. I Heard It Through The Grapevine
  11. I Can See Clearly Now (Ray Charles)
  12. America The Beautiful (Ray Charles)
  13. Georgia On My Mind (with Gladys Knight)
  14. Neither One Of Us (with Gladys Knight)
  15. Hit the Road Jack (with Gladys Knight)
The TV program was produced for pay cable by HBO. The earliest air date I've found is 22 January 1978. The first release was on laser disc, some time during the 1980s, but only in Japan. The DVD was released in 2008; sound and picture quality are mediocre.

DVD: Immortal, 13 January 2008.

The catalog of the New York Public Library describes a 2-cassette, 75-minute U-matic copy of the show: "Gladys Knight and the Pips are joined by Ray Charles in concert. Musical numbers by Gladys Knight and the Pips include: Midnight train to Georgia, The way we were, Evergreen, Neither one of us, and On and on. Ray Charles performs Mack the knife [sic! BS], America the beautiful and Georgia on my mind."
A review in Billboard also makes clear that quite some tunes were left out of the video releases, including Daddy Could Swear, I Declare, where Ray accompanied Gladys & The Pips on piano, and What'd I Say (with the I'm Gonna Keep On Singin'-intro; probably the big finale of the whole show).

* At the time of this concert Knight and The Pips must already have been aware of the conflict with Buddah, their record company, forcing them to record separately between 1978 and 1980.

Georgia On My Mind + Neither One Of Us:

Hit The Road Jack (Pips with Raelettes!):

Complete show:

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