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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music

Ray Charles

1962

Buy At Rough Trade
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Album Summary

Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music is a studio album by American singer and pianist Ray Charles. It was recorded in February 1962 at Capitol Studios in New York City and United Western Recorders in Hollywood, and released in April of that year by ABC-Paramount Records. The album departed further stylistically from the rhythm and blues music Charles had recorded for Atlantic Records in the 1950s. It featured country, folk, and Western music standards reworked by Charles in popular song forms of the time, including R&B, pop, and jazz. Charles produced the album with Sid Feller, who helped the singer select songs to record, and performed alongside saxophonist Hank Crawford, a string section conducted by Marty Paich, and a big band arranged by Gil Fuller and Gerald Wilson. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music was an immediate critical and commercial success. The album and its four hit singles brought Charles greater mainstream notice and recognition in the pop market, as well as airplay on both R&B and country radio stations. The album and its lead single, "I Can't Stop Loving You", were both certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1962, as each record had sold at least 500,000 copies in the United States. The album's integration of soul and country challenged racial barriers in popular music at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. In the process of recording the album, Charles became one of the first African-American musicians to exercise complete artistic control over his own recording career. In retrospect, it has been considered by critics as his best studio record and a landmark recording in American music. According to Robert Christgau, the album "transfigured pop, prefigured soul, and defined modern country & western music." It has been called one of the greatest albums of all time by publications such as Rolling Stone and Time.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.48

Votes

13363

Genres

  • Soul
  • Blues
  • Jazz

Reviews

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Fri Jul 16 2021
4

When I was much younger, I remember encountering an album entitled "The Shape of Punk to Come" by Refused and thinking, "Boy, they sure think a lot of themselves. That might be the ballsiest album title I've ever heard." Well, it turns out Ray Charles beat them to it. A black man in '62 claiming he's got the key to modern Country & Western was all balls. He backs it up with this album, though. It's real damn good. It's clearly country but also clearly not. The combination of styles coupled with his clear appreciation for the source material make it really hard to deny how damn good the album is. I mean, I don't even like country and I'm digging this record. I can see why it has been hailed as not just a great album but for breaking down racial walls in the music industry.

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Mon Apr 19 2021
4

Damn awesome execution of this idea. Ray Charles voice is timeless, and though some of the strings and background vocals are a bit overdone, the blues approach to country/western is very cool.

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Thu Feb 17 2022
5

The incredible thing about this album is the fact that you cannot tell that these songs were originally country songs. I'm not sure if it's intended, but this album is a testament to the fact that genre is something to be transcended. People often define their musical tastes by genre, and this album subverts that assumption completely. As someone who enjoys country music, jazz, and R&B, this album is a celebration of music period. This album is very deserving of the praise it gets.

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Wed Sep 01 2021
5

I love stuff like this. Always been a big fan of the singers of the 50s and 60s. Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. This might just be another 5 for me. It gets a little samey, especially in terms of lyrics, after the 1 hour-mark, but the thing is that it's good music so it doesen't really matter.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
4

We get these songs produced so slickly, with such stereotypically grand string and horn arrangements, that the connection to the titular country and western music is subtle. I enjoyed the sharing of vocal duties at points. If it weren't for the title and historical context, I wouldn't have picked up on the source of the material until You Are My Sunshine. Charles's voice is the standout stylistic feature as he blends perfectly with the production and delivers the lyrics comfortably.

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Thu Aug 26 2021
3

I get the premise of the album and appreciate its importance to the genre. It's also always a pleasure to listen to Ray Charles. That said, this album is very much of another time and some listeners will find it drags, especially in the middle. The best part about the album is Charles himself. His vocals are perfect as is his piano playing. Unfortunately, the big band horn and string arrangements and old backup vocals feel more than a little dated. I enjoyed the back end of the album best, like from "It Makes No Difference Now" to the end. "Careless Love" and "You Win Again" are flawless and "I Can't Stop Loving You" is a classic. Fave songs: You Win Again, Careless Love, You Don't Know Me

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Sat May 22 2021
5

So much orchestra. More of this in the world please

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Mon May 24 2021
5

The upbeat songs make me want to dance, and the slower ones have such an old school Disney vibe between the strings and the choir. Really into this. And the cultural importance of the album truly solidified the 5 for me

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Sun Nov 07 2021
5

10/10 Ray Charles is the GOAT it had such a fun, warm sound hearing those songs bring such a calming but happy atmosphere

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Mon Nov 28 2022
5

Landmark album. It's country, but it's not. It's Soul/Big Band, but it's not. He took White music and made it Black, it's like reverse Elvis. Love it.

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Sun Nov 14 2021
4

Good album, a little slow. Love Rays voice always

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Mon Oct 09 2023
5

This is a Christmas time album for sure. No shame playing this that time of year. Well that was lovely. Really enjoyed how the simplistic themes without coming across as campy or insincere

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Wed Nov 08 2023
5

Wow this one starts off with a kick. Woke me up and got me going! Ray Charles’ take on these Country & Western classics is vibrant, luxuriant and warm. This is life affirming stuff.

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Sun Aug 15 2021
4

This is one of those albums on this list where my rating gets influenced by reading more about the album and its history, but even that didn't really change how I felt. Incredibly groundbreaking with a huge variety of genres that shine through in songs. Love the background singers/choruses, especially when they introduce the song with its title, often at the start of the song. Got a little longwinded and repetitive, enough to make this not quite a 5, but the spotify version has more songs than the original album, so not too many points off. Even with the repetitiveness, I rarely got bored Saved: Bye Bye Love, You Don’t Know Me, I Can't Stop Loving You; Oh, Lonesome Me*

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Mon Nov 15 2021
4

Don't enjoy the string and choral arrangements, but his voice and piano and stunning.

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Sun Apr 14 2024
4

This is a very good album, great singing and great instrumentation. Ray Charles has a great voice. My two biggest complaints are that it seems like he somehow manages to say "love" in every other sentence, and the slow love ballads (the ones with the sappy string arrangements and choir that sound like Christmas music) all kind of sound the same. 3.5

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Thu Apr 25 2024
4

To be completely honest, I am still struggling to figure out where the country or western was on this album. Maybe I am stupid or maybe country music’s sound has strayed so far I have no idea what it sounded like in the 50s/60s. Regardless, this album was fantastic in my opinion. I loved both the uptempo big band cuts as well as the moodier, laid back ones. The strings and backing vocalists were a nice touch, but Ray Charles has such a powerful voice that he could carry a song even without it. Really felt the emotions in his delivery on some of the more melancholic and slow ballads. Strong 4 Fav Songs: Bye Bye Love Born To Lose I Can’t Stop Loving You Hey, Good Lookin

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Thu Apr 25 2024
4

Cool to hear another version of "Bye Bye Love" after listening to Bridge Over Troubled Water. "I Love You So Much It Hurts" has beautiful backing vocals and instrumentation. I can picture people boogieing in black and white to "Hey Good Lookin'". Ray's vocals are silky-smooth throughout the whole album. The jazz instrumentation is on point and the strings are a nice touch, this album definitely has a very grand presentation. This isn't really the type of music that I'd seek out but I can't knock it, good stuff.

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Sat Mar 05 2022
3

03/04/2022 He's an icon for a reason. A bit repetitive towards the end, but that's not a mark on his talent, just the songs in general.

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Tue Mar 28 2023
3

Pretty pleasant overall. Good thing to have in my catalog. Standouts: Bye Bye Love, Worried Mind, I Can't Stop Loving You, Oh, Lonesome Me

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Mon Mar 25 2024
3

Ray can cook along, but this one is more my dad’s speed. There are others in his catalog that I will play before this one makes the rounds.

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Sun Mar 31 2024
3

Nr. 156/1001 Bye Bye Love 4/5 You Don't Know Me 3/5 Half As Much 4/5 I Love You So Much It Hurts 3/5 Just A Little Lovin' 4/5 Born to Lose 3/5 Worried Mind 4/5 It Makes No Difference Now 3/5 You Win Again 3/5 Careless Love 4/5 I Can't Stop Lovin' You 3/5 Hey, Good Lookin' 3/5 You Are My Sunshine 3/5 No Letter Today 3/5 Someday 3/5 Don't Tell Me Your Troubles 4/5 Modnight 3/5 Oh, Lonesome Me 3/5 Take These Chains From My Heart 3/5 Your Cheatin' Heart 3/5 I'll Never Stand in Your Way 3/5 Making Believe 3/5 Teardrops in my Heart 3/5 Hang Your Head in Shame 3/5 Average: 3,25 This held up over time pretty well, aside from the female choire. That sounds super dated.

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Mon Apr 01 2024
3

Not sure I'd really call this 'country and western' music but that's a bonus for me really. I mean it's Ray Charles, you know exactly what you're going to get. Fantastic voice on that man. I'm pretty sure he could sing the assembly instructions for an Ikea bookshelf and it would be great. That said, I don't think I can give this more than 3/5 and it's definitely not his best work. It's a good album but this kind of music just doesn't blow me away.

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Sat Apr 06 2024
3

It's very good for it's genre. I debated giving this 4 stars, but ultimately, too many of the songs have the same sound. This is very close to 4 stars though.

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Sat Oct 15 2022
1

All very lovely, but I feel quite sick - I'm only 52, not 95 - this is not my bag baby

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Sat May 15 2021
5

One of the best albums of all time. Period.

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Mon Sep 27 2021
5

Beautiful songs, beautiful voice, beautiful arrangements!

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Wed Oct 06 2021
5

Pretty great. Didn't get a chance to listen to all of it, but will definitely go back.

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Tue Oct 26 2021
5

One of the great cross genre records

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Sun Jan 30 2022
5

Wow! What can I say?! It’s Ray Charles! Music doesn’t get any better than this! An absolute gem!

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Thu Feb 17 2022
5

So so soulful yet precise. True synthesis of great American art forms.

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Sat Mar 05 2022
5

Great album, with great sounds and incredible balades

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Wed Apr 27 2022
5

I just knew I was going to like a guy when it he played this album on vinyl the first time I went over to his house. Sigh, Ray Charles makes everything good, better.

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Tue May 31 2022
5

man i just love a ray charles album, this was really nice

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Wed Jun 01 2022
5

Ray Charles is his own genre. He saw no barriers.

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Mon Jun 06 2022
5

Ray Charles 18th overall album featuring country, folk and western music standards reworked in popular song forms - R&B, pop and jazz. This album got lots of airplay on both R&B and country music stations. Ray said he didn't see a lot of difference in blues and country music. Given a lot artistic freedom the idea came to do this album which is absolutely incredible. His A&R man, Ray Feller went through 250 country songs to pick from. The songs are mostly love and heartbreak ballads as you would expect. The backing music are strings, horns, Ray's piano and voice and great backing vocals. Every song on this album is worth listening to. He creates an extremely unique style. I would like to go back and compare the original country version to Ray's. Two standout tracks are both near the end. What a great vocal delivery on "Careless Love." His voice just soars with the strings in the background. "I Can't Stop Loving You" is a classic example to the point that there really isn't much difference between blues and country. This song fits both...just great backing vocals and probably my favorite Ray Charles song. This was an historically important album crossing racial borders in a very racially-charged time. A timeless performance and album.

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Sat Jun 25 2022
5

By some quirk, yesterday Ray Charles album was followed by another Ray Charles album today - and I wasn’t disappointed. More beautiful arrangements, singing and playing; evocative of a certain era; charming, delightful and satisfying. These are recordings of the highest quality from a wonderfully talented artist.

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Mon Jul 25 2022
5

Not much to say, no faults, all of his genius encapsulated.

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Fri Aug 19 2022
5

Many Classics, Is That Careless Love An Interpolation Of Silent Night?

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Mon Aug 22 2022
5

I'm stunned that the average review isn't higher. Maybe it's a recency bias. This album is exactly why the "1001 albums" project exists. This is a groundbreaking and culturally significant album, that also happens to be pretty darn good. Is it my favorite Ray Charles album? No. Did it have more impact on the course of American and World music than any other Ray Charles album ... and really most any album? Absolutely.

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Wed Aug 31 2022
5

Big fan of 60s era of music. Ray Charles does some good stuff.

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Thu Sep 08 2022
5

Album number 6 I have on vinyl! I can’t begin to express how much I love this album. It was incredibly revolutionary and progressive for the time, it tore down barriers, and it’s probably Ray’s best or second best album. Holy shit it’s such a joy to listen to. While some of the songs aren’t as perfect as “Bye Bye Love”, “You Don’t Know Me”, or “You Win Again”, I enjoy listening to every single one of them. No filler or bloat whatsoever. If you don’t like this album, I don’t even know what to say to you. I should note that I’m only writing about Volume 1 here, but Volume 2 is equally perfect (if not better).

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Wed Sep 14 2022
5

Wow. What a once in a generation talent. The way he rewrote/reworked/restyled these standards was so good, quite often amazing..

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Tue Sep 27 2022
5

I enjoyed every minute of this album. Split between jazzy big band arrangements for most of the quicker tempo songs and orchestral arrangements for the ballads the album swings effortlessly from one to the other. Underpinning it all is Charles' soulful singing that elevates each song and makes these country classics his own. It's not my go to genre especially the string arranged compositions, but tht did not get in the way of my enjoyment of the album. An album that should be heard by anyone that loves music. 5 stars.

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Sat Oct 08 2022
5

He's such a natural musician. Even though some of the elements are overdone when listened with today's ear, it does not detract from the greatness of this album.

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Tue Oct 18 2022
5

Hey this ray guy is pretty good

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Wed Nov 16 2022
5

This was really good! I don't think I would have been able to tell that these were covers of country songs if it wasn't right there in the title, and while they may sound a bit dated for 1960s standards, I have a massive soft spot for a good big band. Favourite: Don't Tell Me Your Troubles

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Thu Nov 17 2022
5

Ray Charles. He does what he wants. And it's always brilliant.

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Sat Dec 03 2022
5

During the recording of this album, Ray Charles became one of the few black artists in the early rock era to gain complete creative control of their music. He puts that control to phenomenal use here, interpreting folk and country standards with a blistering R&B flair.

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Thu Feb 23 2023
5

I've liked Ray for many years but never listened to this one for some crazy reason - maybe I was put off by the title, not thinking that it was still going to be classic fantastic Ray.

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Fri Feb 24 2023
5

Jazzy, well-articulated, easy going tunes. Ray Charles nailed it. Lush orchestration and classic tunes. A great collection to be made aware of

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Tue Feb 28 2023
5

This album has so many things going for it: - The concept: country/folk/western songs reworked into pop/soul/jazz is genius, in my opinion. And the execution is great. - The instrumentation: the orchestra! The piano! Beautiful arrangements. - The voice: his voice makes the whole thing work. My only complaint is that it’s a little on the long side to listen as a whole. Doesn’t detract from the actual music though.

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Tue Mar 21 2023
5

Great old school style jazzy vibe

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Tue Mar 21 2023
5

Забавная вещь: узнал о нем после фильма Рэй и очень проникся артистом. Я представляю насколько круто вживую смотреть на его выступления и у меня мурашки идут сразу.

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Fri Mar 24 2023
5

I mean what more do you really want out of life

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Wed Apr 05 2023
5

Here’s why I was going to give it a 4: I’m hoping that there is a more soul/r&b Ray Charles album on here, because while that would likely get a 5 from me, this doesn’t quite get there. There are some excellent moments, but it’s a little too schmaltzy for me. The more raw and wild Ray Charles is probably in my top 5 singers of all time (the scream on Someday almost gets there) He’s certainly able to make many of these songs his own which should count for something, I just wish he made them better than they were before. Here’s why I decided it deserved a 5: I will end by saying that I totally understand why this is on here, and think it’s one of the most important albums we’ve heard so far. In something I’m calling a “reverse Elvis”, Ray Charles shows how similar country, jazz, rock, and r&b could be and thus serves as a powerful symbol of the melting pot of American music (the cover of Your Cheating Heart, with the jazzy and bluesy piano solo proves my point). This music could only be made in a country like this.

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Wed Apr 05 2023
5

The ultimate crossover. An R&B star releasing a country album at a time of racial tensions in the south. The connection between the two genre - always there - became apparent to all. And, we are all better for it. A stone-cold classic.

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Sun May 14 2023
5

Stellar record. The production, arrangements, and soulfully virtuosic musicianship that made Charles a legend shines through here.

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Mon May 22 2023
5

Bye Bye Love is my favorite song from the album!

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Sat Jun 10 2023
5

Ray Charles is a legend, and these performances and recordings are excellent. This was an incredible album to pull on a lazy drizzly Friday morning. Excellent all around.

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Fri Jul 07 2023
5

WOW! I’ve heard a few of these songs and they are truly classics… but did realize what an incredible experience listening to both volumes of this lovely release would be. Just a total pleasure from beginning to end. Made my day!

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Fri Jul 07 2023
5

A wonderful way to spend an evening.

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Fri Jul 07 2023
5

I was familiar with many of these tracks from a best of Ray Charles collection that I have listened to many times. There were also many new tunes for me. I really liked them all!

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Fri Jul 07 2023
5

I always love listening to the unique take different singers have on familiar songs. Ray Charles makes you forget there were other versions. This was marvelous.

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Tue Jul 18 2023
5

Que capo Ray por favor, te mete unos countrys con una banda de soul. Me gustaría escuchar algo así (Malosetti no estuvo a la altura) de folklore argentino hecho soul.

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Thu Jul 20 2023
5

I wasn't sure what to expect with this, but this type of thing is right up my alley. I'm not sure I'd listen again, but I really liked it. I usually reserve my 5s for stuff I know I'll listen to again, but I can't fathom giving this any less than a perfect score.

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Mon Jul 24 2023
5

Massively influential, perfectly executed. You Don’t Know Me is one of my all time favorites.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
5

everything he touched grooved so hard, and a lot of the production on his albums sounds so crisp for the time

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Fri Aug 04 2023
5

Incredible?? Thank goodness for the art of music, as it gives us amazing records like this. I'm very unfamiliar with country music so most of this was new to me, but each song sounded right at home with Ray Charles' voice and his backing band. So much soul and good vibes, whether it was a ballad or an upbeat track. It's also not as dated as some of its contemporaries, mainly because of how clean and well-produced it is. Crazy good stuff, made even better by its cultural impact. He transcended genres and broke racial barriers during a very rocky time in history. Talk about hitting two birds with one solid record. I can't even name a standout. Every song was a standout. Imagine that!

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Sat Aug 26 2023
5

Romantic, sexy music for grownups. A great let's get back together album. So many people saying it's too long, you're listening to Vol 1 & 2! The original album is 40 minutes long and ends with Hey, Good Lookin'...

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Sat Sep 02 2023
5

Chill AF. Can't stop listening.

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Sun Sep 24 2023
5

Ray Charles- enough said. Classic.

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Tue Oct 10 2023
5

Feels like something I’d play to relax. It’s Ray Charles, baby! Beautiful arrangements and somber tunes. A tiny bit of variety on here I didn’t expect. What else is there to say?

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Sat Oct 28 2023
5

Excellent. Ray Charles - legend!

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Tue Oct 31 2023
5

I've always loved this album and play it at home a decent amount! This era of Ray Charles reminds my of a PSE commercial growing up that, I think, had one of his songs. The commercial depicted warm images of the home and a street in what I am guessing was West Seattle that lights up when the sun goes down. It had a strong impact on me. I still look for that street.

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Wed Nov 01 2023
5

Provavelmente o melhor disco, recheados de hits.

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Mon Nov 06 2023
5

It’s killer, helped me go through one Christmas trip and I haven’t forgot it since

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