Ray Charles: Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music

The singer's voice transcends some indifferent settings and possibly the limitations of the genre to create one of his best albums


On the face of it, the material for this album might have caused a waste of the great singer’s talents. But the truth is that this and its partner album (the LP is the first part of a two-LP set) are amongst Ray Charles’s greatest achievements.

Possible controversy is killed stone dead by the knowledge that Ray had wanted to make the album for some years before his then label, ABC-Paramount, supported the idea. Surprised by Ray’s request, his producer Sid Feller collected together sheet music and records of the best numbers in the medium. From a jazz partisan’s view, Ray easily transcends the material, although it’s suspicious that these substantial performances are often overlooked by jazz reviewers.

It must be said that Marty Paich lets the side down with his cloying string arrangements (seven of them) while Fuller makes the brass shout. Ray fights off a polished choir (not the Raelettes) that emerges Dracula-like every so often and Charles’s big band is tidier than usual in delivering what has been placed before them. That’s irrelevant, because they’ve all been swept aside by the dominance of the great singer’s performance.

Ray’s piano is featured only on the last three tracks. The final track, At The Club, seems to have been omitted from all previous issues.

This beautifully presented LP (the nice pressing is in violent blue plastic) with its robust sleeve leaves one hoping for Waxtime to follow up with part 2. Both were combined on Concord’s CD CRE-31337, where their equal attraction and merit is confirmed.

Bye Bye Love; You Don’t Know Me; Half As Much; I Love You So Much It Hurts; Just A Little Lovin’; Born To Lose (18.45) – Worried Mind; It Makes No Difference Now; You Win Again; Careless Love; I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You; Hey Good Lookin’; At The Club (19.23)
Charles (p, v) and his orchestra. Los Angeles, February 1962.
Waxtime In Color 950730