Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music Import
Ray Charles is the Genius of Soul, but he's always had a bit of country boy in him, too. Between playing hillbilly piano when he was a kid and landing several duets on the country charts in the '80s, Charles released this 1962 classic, taking 12 country standards and proving that great songs can remain great, no matter what the setting. Behind blaring brass and thrilling strings, Brother Ray transforms "Hey, Good Lookin'" and "Bye Bye Love" into big-band swing; "You Win Again" into the Nashville Sound; and "I Love You So Much It Hurts" into the most elegant of pop. "I Can't Stop Loving You" was the big hit, but everything else here is just as timeless and beautiful. --David Cantwell
It's also significant to note that, in an era when the single hit was the goal of most artists (not to mention their recording labels) in light of the profits if nothing else, that this album produced four such hits on the Billboard Pop Hot 100, two of which also scored on the R&B listings and, in addition, did well on the Adult Contemporary (AC) charts. And to show it was no fluke, the follow-up Volume 2 (ABCS-435) produced another 4. One of those is added here by Rhino as bonus track 13, while 14 and 15 were hits in late 1963/early 1964 and 1967 respectively (see Comments below).
The AAD stereo sound here is excellent, and the insert contains two pages of background notes written originally in July 1988 by Todd Everett. As for the "Country schamltz" angle, perhaps Ray's own words describe this effort best. In a 1972 interview with radio host (and Country artist) Wink Martindale (see track 11 of the Ray Charles CD "I Chose To Sing The Blues"), he says, in reference to this original album " ... these Country songs ... so many of them are so much like real people ... you know ... wherein, say, your other songs ... they tend to have lyrics that are solid sugar-coated, if you know what I mean ... sweeten up a little bit, you know ... but with Country music, it's very common-place ... and the situations very earthy."
Having chosen to sing the songs of one who many claim is the "poet laureate of America" - Hank Williams - not to mention another pretty fair lyricist, Don Gibson, tells you that Ray chose well.
Some may wonder why those Pop/R&B/AC hits never scored on the Country charts at the time. Likely it had to do with the fact that the C&W network at the time was still almost exclusively a white-only domain (Charlie Pride was still 4 years away), and they - the buying public and disc-jockeys - weren't quite sure what to make of the albums and the singles that followed. Racial tensions were still very much in evidence at the time, especially in the South where C&W was king. That, of course, would change when Ray hit the Country charts 13 times in the 1980s, several of them culled from his album Friendship in which he sang with some of the top Country stars of the day, among them Willie Nelson, George Jones and Hank Williams, Jr. Another great album.
Win 10 has a problem with the album and tracks - Had to edit them by hand.