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SWING BEAT 212; NOVEMBER, 1949
 
 

 

This record quite possiblyin all likelihood… almost certainly… doesn’t really belong here.

So feel free to just skip to the next review if you want.

But for those who want to stick around the reason it’s here is because it offers us our first plausible opportunity to meet Ray Charles, which is something we needed to do sooner or later and due to his stature it’s kind of a big deal. But as to why his introduction at this particular time isn’t the easiest of fits is because as most people know Ray always was a prickly sort when it came to defining who or what he was.

He would claim in time that he was never a rock ‘n’ roll artist at all, making his inclusion here spurious in the mind of the man himself, were he still around to protest. But then again he wasn’t exactly a willing to be counted as a member of any specific musical genre over the years. He would cut jazz albums but never claim he was a jazzman either. He rose to fame by, in his words, “mixing blues with spirituals” but notably he never recorded anything purely in the blues idiom OR in gospel for that matter either. His most famous album was Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music and yet he never would be called a country act.

So what the hell was he?

Well, the answer is simple: He was a restlessly eclectic American musician of the latter half of the Twentieth Century, which is another way of saying he was all of those things and none of those things at the same time.

Yet here today, for this review anyway, he’s a rock ‘n’ roller, if only for the sake of giving us an early starting point for examining a career which lasted more than a half century during which he invariably became tangled up hip-deep in rock whether he liked it or not.
 
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