Tuesday, August 14, 2007

No. 104: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

Band: Ray Charles
Album: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Despite the name of the record, "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" doesn't have a lot of what we'd consider county and western music. It's more like showtuney versions of some country songs, complete with a group of women backing Charles right up.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I just can't get into this record. Each song sounds like Charles is holding back or trying to sound restrained. It's just... odd.
Best song: Oddly, the version of "Hey, Good Lookin'" isn't bad.
Worst song: The other Hank Williams song, "You Win Again," isn't great.
Is it awesome?: I'm not totally sure.

I still haven't seen "Ray," so I imagine I don't have a proper feeling for his life or music. For that, I apologize. Take this review with a giant grain of salt.


As I mentioned in the "Fresh Cream" review, there is a certain period of music wherein the artist simply played standards or covers. Ray Charles took this to an odd place in putting his stamp on 12 country and western songs.

It's weird, but this is the period of early rock and roll wherein the easy listening/show tunes of the earlier generation were still a part of the scene, as rock and roll proper took hold (Hell, even the Beatles did a song from the "Music Man" on their third record). So, what you have is a lot of overproduction, backing vocals and showmanship vocals in what was considered rock and roll. That shit doesn't pass anymore.

What Ray Charles is doing doesn't really strike me as country and western music. It's too produced. Maybe it's because c&w is more Johnnie Cash and early Hank Williams than this sort of thing, but I can't get into this record.

This is the type of album I'd hoped to discover and love, but it just doesn't rink my bell.

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