Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music

April, 19 2015 | Eddie's Attic

In the spring of 1962 America was still deep in the throes of segregation. Country music was an exclusively white man’s game; R&B music was black, and never the twain shall meet. But in April of that year, Ray Charles released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music and tore down a number of those walls. The album (ABC-Paramount), produced by Charles and legendary conductor Sid Feller, is a collection of standards (country, Western and folk) set in the pop styles of the time (jazz, soul, rhythm and blues). It was recorded in only two days, February 5th and 7th of 1962 in Capitol Studios in New York City and one day the following week in Hollywood’s United Recording Studios. In just three days, Charles made an album heralded by Rolling Stone and Time as one of the best of all time. Never before had standards such as these featured similarly bold arrangements. Charles was no stranger to genre blending. His previous recordings blended gospel, jazz and pop. But on Modern Sounds he pulled from genres that until then seemed so polar. The response was immediate and sweeping. The album was a crossover hit, getting spins on country stations and R&B stations. It quickly replaced the soundtrack to West Side Story as the number one album in America. It became one of the best selling albums by an African American and one of the best selling country albums to date. Modern Sounds won the Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Album of 1963, and it was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999. It’s hard to find a Best of List that doesn’t include Modern Sounds. Now more than 50 years after its release, it’s hard to appreciate just how modern Modern Sounds was. But let’s roll back the clock to the near-peak of the Civil Rights Movement, and let’s listen with the ears of a nation who had never yet heard anything like this.

Side 1:

1. Bye Bye Love - Nathan Angelo
2. You Don
3. Half As Much - Kyshona Armstrong
4. I Love You So Much - Eva Kennedy
5. Just a Little Lovin
6. Born To Lose - Marshall Ruffin

Side 2:

7. Worried Mind - Nathan Angelo
8. It Makes No Difference - Eva Kennedy
9. You Win Again - Marshall Ruffin