Sign up for newsletter
 

Ray Charles gets reissue treatment

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 – Ray Charles was known for his R&B, but he also had an interest in country. As a child in Florida, he'd listened to the Grand Ole Opry's radio broadcasts. His well-received 1962 gold-certified album "Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music" and its encore "Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volume 2" will get the reissue treatment from Concord Records on June 2.

The two albums, which featured the hits I Can't Stop Loving You, Take These Chains From My Heart and You Don't Know Me, will be out together in an expanded reissue titled "Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2." New liner notes by musicologist Bill Dahl are included alongside original notes by Rick Ward and Charles' longtime recording supervisor Sid Feller.

The reissue release is part of Concord's Ray Charles reissue program that launched this year. "Since joining ABC's roster in late 1959 after permanently altering the rhythm and blues landscape that sired soul, Charles had been contemplating an LP of country chestnuts for years," Dahl wrote. "So, to him, it wasn't a radical concept. What was earth shattering was the way he redefined each song. When Ray unleashed the roaring horn section from his recently formed big band, those country evergreens swung like never before."

In preparation for the album, Charles asked Feller to bring him the biggest country and western hits from the preceding 20 years. According to Ward, "Completely confused and wondering what possible use Ray could make of such material, Sid began collecting songs. The more he thought about Ray's idea, the more excited Sid became. And by the time the sessions rolled around, he was nearly the most enthusiastic person on the studio."

Initially skeptical, ABC Records gave Charles artistic freedom and was pleased when "Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music" became the label's first million-selling album. A lot of this was due to the success of its first single, I Can't Stop Loving You. Never intended to be a single, the Don Gibson-penned track was buried in the album sequence. Yet when actor Tab Hunter covered the song, Feller quickly edited Charles' rendition to single length and got it into the marketplace in enough time to bury the Hunter version. It topped the pop and R&B hit parades and won a Grammy for Best R&B Recording. You Don't Know Me also proved a massive R&B and pop seller.

A few months later, Charles and his team convened at Capitol Studios in New York to plan "Volume 2," mining another dozen country standards. Within the month, the album was at retail and hit number two on the pop album chart. Hank Williams' Take These Chains From My Heart, which kicked off the "ballad side" of "Volume 2," became another big Charles hit in mid-1963.

CD reviews for Ray Charles

Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2 CD review - Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2
To say that Ray Charles pushed the envelope with these two reissue releases on one CD would have been an understatement at the time. Charles, of course, was known for being a black pop and R&B singer, but he grew up with country music in his native Florida listening to the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts on Saturday evenings and wanted to stretch his musical boundaries. The result was volume 1 recorded in February 1962. From the get go with a cover of the Everly Brothers' Bye Bye Love, it »»»
The Complete Country & Western Recordings, 1959-1986
Setting aside Ray Charles' contributions to blues, soul and jazz, his catalog of Country and Western, documented in this four-disc set, still forms the basis of an incredible career. Rhino has gathered tracks spanning 28 years and several labels in this exhaustive document of Charles' country music. His 1962 "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music" and "Modern Sounds ... Volume 2," began a lengthy affair with Nashville songwriters. As the liner notes suggest, "the attraction was country song »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Lambert refuses to rest on laurels – Watching this stop on Miranda Lambert's "Livin' Like Hippies Tour," one is struck by just how many great songs the country singer/songwriter already has in her repertoire. With most artists, it's relatively easy to guess which song a performer will choose to close a show. But Lambert has so many winners to pick from, many... »»»
Concert Review: DBT rocks on – Drive-By Truckers still sometimes get miscategorized as alt.-country, but who's kidding whom? With three electric guitarists upfront exchanging hard rock licks all night, this is a blistering Southern rock band. Hitting the stage just before 10, the band played a satisfying 2-hour-plus set. At 11:40, Patterson Hood announced the band would be... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Tyminski goes dark Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.... »»»
Washburn, Fleck create "Echoes" Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echoes In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else.... »»»
Hillman bides his time Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»
Staggered CD review - Staggered
East Nashville may be known as "the" Americana hotbed these days, but some of the talent there is very much verging on rock 'n roll. This is the case with Lynn Taylor & the BarFlies on their third release, a collection of personal tunes by the front man. »»»
American Folk soundtrack CD review - American Folk soundtrack
The soundtrack for the independent film, "American Folk," stars two real-life singer-songwriters played by Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth, who also contribute the bulk of the material on the soundtrack. Understanding the plot of the film helps explain both the sequence and content of the track list. »»»
Rifles and Rosary Beads CD review - Rifles and Rosary Beads
Mary Gauthier has built her career on honest, sometimes brutally and achingly self-confessional songs. This is the first time that she has focused on experiences other than her own, and it could become not only the strongest album of her career but, in its own way, a landmark album. »»»
Work CD review - Work
Matt Hectorne's new album - his third solo effort - offers another example of the rewards that can come through the joy of discovery. While Hectorne makes no attempt to bend the boundaries as far as a patented Americana sound is concerned, the success he achieves here is the result of him doing quite the opposite, that is, sounding like a revered veteran who mastered the form quite quickly in his career.  »»»
Hallelujah Nights CD review - Hallelujah Nights
LANCO's "Greatest Love Story" is a radio single saturated in undeniable warmth and sweetness. But then, the attitude in "We Do" reeks of Florida Georgia Line and the chorus to "Singin' at The Stars" also brings country music's most annoying duo to mind. LANCO is a new act, and the jury's still on just which direction this five-piece will go. »»»