Friday, June 02, 2006

31. Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)

Track Listing

1. Bye Bye Love
2. You Don't Know Me
3. Half as Much
4. I Love You So Much It Hurts
5. Just a Little Lovin' (Will Go a Long Way)
6. Born to Lose
7. Worried Mind
8. It Makes No Difference Now
9. You Win Again
10. Careless Love
11. I Can't Stop Loving You
12. Hey, Good Lookin'


Bringing the Swing to the redneck is what this album is all about. Remember that this was more than a year before Martin Luther King did his "I have a dream" speech and the idea of a black singer taking a dozen of well loved country and western standards and making them his was still seen as quite a shocking idea.

Country and Western had always been the domain of white conservatism until this album came along, unfortunately, save for a handfull of exceptions on the conservatism front (Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash et al) it is still the domain of white performers with consevative leanings. So Ray Charles had guts, but he not only had that. He manages to make these songs very much his, actually some of the versions on this album became the definitive ones, such as I Can't Stop Loving You or the single which came out at the same time that this album did, Here We Go Again.

Still, if we ignore the whole socio-political aspect of this album it is not really that overly impressive by Ray's standards, which are frankly quite high. I liked The Genius of Ray Charles more than this one in musical enjoyment terms. If some songs in that album left me cold, there are more of those in this album. Still, it gets points on the sheer gutsiness of what the idea behind the project is all about while losing some for not being as great as Genius, evening it out.

So definitely an album you should hear before you die, but also probably something that I will not bother replaying many times. I don't know, it must be my problem, but there is something about Ray that never really grabs my attention, maybe it is its overproduction which sometimes brushes the borders of good taste, with its sweeping strings and back up choirs... I dunno.

No stream from Napster at time of writing, but you can buy it at Amazon US or UK

Track Highlights

1. I Can't Stop Loving You
2. Bye Bye Love
3. Hey Good Lookin'
4. You Win Again

Final Grade



Ray Charles died before seeing this album on sale.

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