Roger ford 2012-08-26 13:35:17
Genius + Soul = The great Ray Charles who sadly passed away yesterday
One of the greatest and most influential figures in,not just 50’s
music,but music period.And certainly the man who,more than anyone
else,personified early R&B for me and subsequently shaped my view of
Even though,like everyone else over here I came to his greatest work
so very late.The British record companies had a lot to answer for in
the way they neglected many great 50’s R&B artists whose work was not
released here until much later—but nowhere was that more evidenced
than in the criminal way the early work of Ray Charles was totally
For the UK companies to pass over those early undistinguished Nat Cole
type imitations he did before Atlantic was understandable—-most of
his very early stuff gives no hint of what was to come.
Even when—in one of the most perfect matches of artist with
label—he joined Atlantic Records in 1952 things did’nt gell at
first—but a few great early records like “It Should’ve Been Me” and
Don’t You Know” he began to demonstrate the intense style of rockin’
R&B to come.
And in 1955 he scored his first really major seller with the classic
“I’ve Got A Woman”.Although this was a #2 R&B hit (and one of
Atlantic’s biggest sellers up to that time) the label had yet to tie
up a British distribution deal and the record went unreleased here.
I never heard Ray’s version for some time—the first time I heard
“I’ve Got A Woman” was a year later when the Elvis version (for some
bizarre reason called “I Got A Sweetie” on first release here) was
played on the radio.I really liked his rendering and gradually became
aware that there was an original of the song that I resolved to try
and hear at the earliest opportunity.
Finally Alan Freed or AFN (I forget which) played the Ray Charles
version one night and I was knocked out!! That was my introduction to
Ray Charles—although it would still be years before I’d have any of
1956 arrived—and—oh happy day!—Atlantic finally started
releasing stuff here (via London).The Clovers…LaVern Baker….Clyde
McPhatter…Ivory Joe Hunter….all early releases here—-but STILL
no Ray Charles!!
Despite a whole slew of wonderful US singles including “Hallelujah I
Love Her So”,”Drown in My Own Tears” and “Lonely Avenue”.None of which
saw the light of day here.
A situation that was’nt remedied until December 1958…..when London
at last recognized the man….and issued the two parter rhythm workout
“Rockhouse” as his debut single here.
But it was still a year later—1959—before I bought my first Ray
Charles 45.I heard it first on AFN—it was the record I’d noticed
creeping up the US charts for a few weeks.Now I discovered it was out
here on London.I thought then it was the best,most exciting R&B record
I’d ever heard.I’ve heard very little since to change that
“What’d I Say” remains one of my very favorite records of all
Shortly after this Ray switched labels from Atlantic to
ABC-Paramount—and was quickly “broken” as an international record
act.From here on in,we now got pretty much all his releases.
Including,in 1960 the record that introduced him to the British
charts—a change in style,for a haunting rendering of Hoagy
Carmichael’s beautiful ballad “Georgia On My Mind” that had gone to #1
in the USA.
Whereas most artists from the 50’s tended to diminish as we enter the
’60’s the Ray Charles saga was only just starting.Throughout the 60’s
his stature grew immeasurably,through major early 60’s hits such as
“Hit The Road Jack”,”I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “You Don’t Know
Me”—-the latter duo taken from his landmark #1 1962 album “Modern
Sounds In Country & Western” .
The 1960’s was his greatest sales and popularity period—with a long
run of mega hits—though his releases did sadly become increasingly
bland as the decade wore on—but there was a regular gem turning up
every now and then—such as “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (1966),one of
the very best all time great movie themes “In The Heat Of The Night”
(1967),a great version of the standard “Someone To Watch Over Me”
(1968) and the best ever rendering of the song that should be the
American natiional anthem IMHO “America The Beautiful” (1972)
I spent the 60’s catching up on his earlier work—-amassing a nice
collection of Atlantic singles when the import specialists started
stocking his releases by the ton—-picking favorites from such a
great artist with such an enormous amount of classic records to his
name is difficult—easier to just print out his complete discography!
But let’s try……
So….my period favorites by him include :-
It Should’ve Been Me
Don’t You Know
I’ve Got A Woman
This Little Girl Of Mine
A Fool For You
Drown In My Own Tears
Hallelujah I Love Her So
Leave My Woman Alone
Ain’t That Love
Talkin’ About You
The Right Time
What’d I Say
I’m Movin’ On
I Believe To My Soul
Let The Good Times Roll
Come Rain Or Come Shine
Sticks And Stones
Georgia On My Mind
Them That Got
One Mint Julep
Hit The Road Jack
Unchain My Heart
Baby It’s Cold Outside (duet with Betty Carter)
Hide ‘Nor Hair
You Don’t Know Me
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Martin news 2012-08-27 12:24:15
As a fourteen year old in 1958, I heard loads of Ray Charles
on the Europe #1 and other French radio stations receivable
in the Deep South (of England). All those Atlantic tracks
from the mid fifties…. I too was hooked from then on.
(I don’t think I ever heard a single Ray Charles track on
the BBC until “Hit the Road Jack” came along.)
Ray Charles moved on to “Modern Sounds in Country
and Western” and so on, but I stayed enthralled by the gospel-flovoured
Most of the obituaries were disappointing to me….
The Guardian stated “…he also dabbled in blues, gospel and jazz”.
A bit like saying that Dwight D. Eisenhower “also took a casual interest in
politics and military activities” or that Leonardo da Vinci “liked to try
at an occasional spot of painting”.