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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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RAY CHARLES

Modern Sounds in Country
and Western Music
Vols. 1 & 2

Hoodoo 263434

 

 

Volume 1
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'
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'
 
Volume 2
13. You Are My Sunshine
14. No Letter Today
15. Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)
16. Don't Tell Me Your Troubles
17. Midnight
18. Oh, Lonesome Me
19. Take These Chains From My Heart
20. Your Cheating Heart
21. I'll Never Stand In Your Way
22. Making Believe
23. Teardrops In My Heart
24. Hang Your Head In Shame
 
Bonus track
25. At The Club

Ray Charles - Vocals, piano, with:
Volume_l
Martin Banks, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - Trumpets
George Matthews, Jim Herbert, Dicky Wells - Trombones
Keg Johnson - Bass trombone
Hank Crawford, Rudy Powell - Alto saxes
David "Fathead" Newman, Don Wilkerson - Tenor saxes
Leroy Cooper - Baritone sax
Sonny Forrlest - Guitar
Edgar Willis - Bass
Bruno Carr - Drums
 
Volume 2
Marcus Belgrave, Wallace Davenport, Phil Guilbeau, John Hunt - Trumpets
Henderson Chambers, Leon Comegys, Jim Herbert, Keg Johnson - Trombones
Bennie Crawford, Rudy Powell - Alto saxes
David "Fathead" Newman, Don Wilkerson - Tenor saxes
Leroy Cooper - Baritone sax
Sonny Forriest - Guitar
Edgar Willis - Bass
Bruno Carr - Drums
The Raelets - Vocals

 

Recorded in February 1962, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was one of Ray Charles' most successful albums - and one of the most surprising. Ray had made his name by being a pioneer of soul - mixing jazz and gospel music with rhythm and blues to create a deeply expressive music. It might seem a long way from country and western music, yet country music has been described as "white man's blues", since it shares the blues's concentration on the pains of love. By recording an album of what might be regarded as white man's music, Ray Charles was bravely bridging the racial divide which was at the same time being questioned by the civil rights movement. An African-American singing "white" songs was almost as daring as the Freedom Riders of the previous year, who rode into the American South on segregated buses.

The album was such a success that a second volume was recorded seven monts later. It included such hits as Take These Chains From My Heart and Your Cheating Heart. This CD contains both volumes, totalling 77 minutes of superb music.

Ray got Gerald Wilson and Gil Fuller to write jazz arrangenents of some songs, and Marty Paich to arrange the tracks which used strings and a choir. Songs like You Don't Know Me retain some of country and western's sentimentality, with a string accompaniment and a heavenly choir, although Ray delivers the song with sincerity and soul, conveying the full pathos. This song was one of four hit singles from the album, the others being Born To Lose, Careless Love and I Can't Stop Loving You. The sentimental songs are interspersed with jazzy tracks where the backings are by a big band. Ray's piano solo in Worried Mind underlines the connection between the blues and country music. The inclusion of Careless Love by W. C. Handy ("the Father of the Blues") shows how close country music can be to the blues. And if some country music can seem maudlin, Ray injects positivity into the songs with his powerfully direct delivery.

The second volume is as impressive as the first, as Ray sings with the freedom of a jazz vocalist but interpreting the lyrics with the sincerity of a good country singer. The jazz element is present in such things as the tenor sax solos in Don't Tell Me Your Troubles and Oh, Lonesome Me, while Ray adds a neat piano solo to Take These Chains From My Heart. The CD ends with a bonus track, At The Club, which was recorded at the same sessions but not included on the original LPs. It tells a wry tale of Ray trying to pick up a girl at a club.

In an interview, Ray Charles said "The words to country songs are very earthy like the blues, see, very down". These two LPs proved the connections between these two styles of music and their two ways of looking at life. In doing so, they may have contributed in a small way to the movement for civil rights.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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