Concord Records is reissuing two landmark albums in American culture: Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2 on February 22nd on CD and LP. Charles demonstrated that great songs with signature performances work in all genres. “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was a standard in country, soul and R&B, as he proved. Modern Sounds also brought America together during the Sixties’ civil rights movement. Charles became one of the first recording artists to have ownership and complete control of the masters. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music has been listed among the greatest albums of all time, along with the Beatles, Dylan, Motown, Springsteen, Hendrix and the Beach Boys.
These groundbreaking albums will also become available for the first time on streaming platforms. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 1 will be re-released on vinyl for the first time since 2012, with a deluxe edition version containing both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 on high-fidelity, 180-gram vinyl.
This past fall, Charles was honored by the Grand Ole Opry with An Opry Salute to Ray Charles, with performances celebrating the iconic Modern Sounds tracks and his contributions to country music. In addition, Charles was inducted into both the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame, a program on which he performed multiple times, and the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame.
“Ray Charles was one of the most important artists in the history of American popular music,” says Concord Records President John Burk, “and his Modern Sounds albums were some of his most impactful works. In addition to massive commercial success, these incredible recordings had a huge social and cultural impact, breaking down long established genre and racial barriers.”
“We are excited about this eventful release, an opportunity for longtime fans to enjoy this music and to introduce new generations,” says Valerie Ervin, President of the Ray Charles Foundation.
Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 1 became an instant classic when it was first released in 1962. The album spawned four chart-topping singles: “Born to Lose,” “Careless Love,” “You Don’t Know Me,” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” the latter (and the album itself) being RIAA-certified gold in only one month.
The success led to the recording of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 2. Focusing more on balladry, one side featured performances by the Ray Charles Big Band with the Raelettes, and the other with a string section and the Jack Halloran Singers. Like its predecessor, it was released to both critical and commercial acclaim. In 1999, Vol. 1 was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame for “historical significance,” as was the lead single, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” in 2001.
Many musicians possess elements of genius, but only one — the great Ray Charles — so completely embodied the term that it was bestowed upon him as a nickname. His staggering achievements over a 58-year career include 17 GRAMMY Awards, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Lifetime Achievement and the President’s Merit Award, the Presidential Medal for the Arts, France’s Legion of Honor, the Kennedy Center Honors, a NAACP Image Awards’ “Hall of Fame Award,” and numerous other music Halls of Fame, including those for Jazz and Rhythm & Blues, a testament to his enormous influence.
Charles successfully mastered (and forever changed) the blues, jazz, gospel, rock, pop, and country music landscapes, continually airing his soulful heart. He teamed up with the best of the best in each stylistic genre, including B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, and countless others. As he describes. “I’m not a country singer. I’m a singer who sings country songs. I’m not a blues singer, but I can sing the blues. I’m not really a crooner, but I can sing love songs. I’m not a specialist, but I’m a pretty good utility man. I can play first base, second base, shortstop. I can catch and maybe even pitch a little.” “Genius” doesn’t begin to describe it.
1. Bye Bye Love [as made famous by The Everly Brothers]
2. You Don’t Know Me [as made famous by Eddy Arnold]
3. Half as Much [as made famous by Hank Williams]
4. I Love You So Much It Hurts [as made famous by Tennessee Earl Ford and later Patsy Cline]
5. Just a Little Lovin’ [as made famous by Hank Williams]
6. Born to Lose [as made famous by Don Gibson and later Johnny Cash]
7. Worried Mind [as made famous by Ted Daffan’s Texans]
8. It Makes No Difference Now [as made famous by Eddy Arnold]
9. You Win Again [as made famous by Hank Williams]
10. Careless Love [Jazz standard, as made famous by Eddy Arnold]
11. I Can’t Stop Loving You [as made famous by Don Gibson]
12. Hey, Good Lookin’ [as made famous by Hank Williams]
13. You Are My Sunshine [as made famous by Gene Autry]
14. No Letter Today [as made famous by Ted Daffan]
15. Someday (You’ll Want Me to Want You) [as made famous by Elton Britt]
16. Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles [as made famous by Don Gibson]
17. Midnight [as made famous by Chet Atkins]
18. Oh, Lonesome Me [as made famous by Don Gibson]
19. Take These Chains from My Heart [as made famous by Hank Williams]
20. Your Cheatin’ Heart [as made famous by Hank Williams]
21. I’ll Never Stand in Your Way [as made famous by Joni James and later Kitty Kallen]
22. Making Believe [as made famous by Jimmy Work and later Kitty Wells]
23. Teardrops in My Heart [as made famous by Sons of the Pioneers and later Jim Reeves]
24. Hang Your Head in Shame [as made famous by Foy Willing and His Riders of the Purple Sage and later Red Foley]
Author: Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.