Music Monday: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music by Ray Charles

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 14/250

ModernSoundsInC&WMusicTitle: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Artist: Ray Charles
Year: 1962
Position: #272 (Previously: #240)

Well Mr. Charles, so at last we meet.  The concept of this album is a fascinating one since, to this day, the world of country music is still basically a whites-only club. Try to name a successful black country musician, I guarantee that it is not an easy task. So, back in the sixties this was definitely a great undertaking. That is not to say that any of these songs sound remotely country in anyway, because they don’t. Instead what Ray Charles has taken all the cards and then stacked them in his favour by changing the arrangements of these songs to suit how he plays. So instead we have the lavish fifties style production mixed in with blues and jazz. Interesting to note though is the use of Modern Sounds… in the title when in fact songs like ‘Born To Lose’ and ‘Worried Mind’ have production values that would not sound out of place in the Bambi soundtrack.

It is interesting how some songs contain elements that echo songs that are to come on this list, with Aretha Franklin, Ute Lemper and Rufus Wainwright immediately coming to mind. So there is no question of how influential as an artist Ray Charles was. The songs themselves are also wide ranging withing the scope of jazz and blues an amazing danceable start in the form of ‘Bye Bye Love’, or the sumptuous strings in ‘You Win Again’. As albums go this is, at least to me, a far better offering than his earlier album (which is not in the Top 250) The Genius of Ray Charles. While this may not be terribly consistent it is still a very good listen and earns it place here on the list not only because of it’s experimental nature but also it’s different when compared to what was around in 1962.

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