My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Modern Sounds… was recorded and released in early 1962. Charles’ was a fan of country and western music as a child and wanted to do an album of some of those songs. Of the similarities between Country and Blues Charles said, “You take country music, you take black music, you got the same goddamn thing exactly.” In another interview Charles stated, “[T]he words to country songs are very earthy like the blues, see, very down. They’re not as dressed up, and the people are very honest and say, ‘Look, I miss you, darlin’, so I went out and I got drunk in this bar.” So at the height of the Civil Rights movement, Charles releases an album that has a black man recording a style of music which is almost exclusively listened to my white audiences. In the end the album was a huge success initially selling 1.5 million copies (100,000 a week at its peak).
What I liked: Staring at “Born to Lose” and continuing for five more songs through “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, Charles burns through a litany of ballads in fashion that is one of the best things I’ve heard on record. The sadness and power in his voice on these songs is just amazing and the band and backing chorus that are fleshed out around him really build depth in the songs.
What I Didn’t Like: I’m not as much of a fan of the big band rave ups in “Half as Much” and “Just a Little Lovin'”. With that being said, being Charles’ vocals in these songs are exceptional where as his vocals didn’t carry the songs in the A side of The Genius…. Clearly I enjoy his ballads much more.
My Overall Thoughts: I am really happy to have enjoyed this record. After slagging on The Genius…, I didn’t want to have to do that to another Charles album. The great thing about this project is it’s potential to be horrible turned into greatness. I will be listening to this album again. I would also advise checking out Volume 2 as well (tracks 13-24 in the Rdio link). These were recorded later in 1962 and have a looser more relaxed fell that is really enjoyable.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? There is no doubt in my mind that this should be here. To take such an out there idea, pull it off with such mastery and to do it in those turbulent time really does show the genius of Ray Charles.
Rating (Out of 5): 4
Amazon Review (Out of 5):4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (29/34)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 85%