Thursday, September 20, 2012

#61: Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)

Instead of switching off between albums that I choose and records from, '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' I've been listening to them in succession  They've just been so good and when I see Ray Charles and Bill Evans on the list - it's just hard to say no when they're next on the docket.

You Don't Know Me
This is a classic Charles song. He's just got that voice, and when he sings, "I'm just a friend, that's all I've ever been. Cause you don't know me" it just makes you feel for the guy. Timeless. I don't know if there's a better word for it and maybe it's overused but this doesn't sound dated to me.

Half as Much
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. This is exactly what I'm looking for. It's a beautiful love song with witty lyrics, soulful vocals, and excellent instrumentation. The more I listen to Ray the more I fall in love with him. I never thought I could enjoy another artist as much as I do the Beatles. While it's impossible to compare the two - I think Ray is the closest I'll ever get. Why did I wait this long to start listening working through his catalogue?

Careless Love
It feels like there's just as many musicians that have been inspired by this as there are that inspired this. It's Ray at his best, he doesn't do anything (on paper) that's awe inspiring, but then when you put it together it's the most amazing sound. The instrumentation is simple, yet incredible. I don't know if this music is forcing me to sway or if it's this beach house on stilts. It's funny to hear the embellishment at 1:15 and then listen to John Mayer's 'Gravity' at 2:48. Obviously, Mayer didn't copy it  - I'm just making the point that Ray Charles' legacy still has a very, very wide reach all these years later.

All in all, Ray just doesn't get enough credit. The man is an undisputed genius. When people discuss the absolute greats his name doesn't come up enough. Especially when you consider the varying cast of musicians releasing albums at the same time as this, he makes everything seem like child's play. The man is untouchable. I enjoyed the previous Ray Charles album a bit more, but that shouldn't take away from how good this is.

Tomorrow's album: Jamie Cullum's The Pursuit.

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