Ray Charles is one of those rare artists that can convincingly traffic in virtually any genre of music and make it sound thoroughly his own. Whether he’s working with soul, gospel, pop, or country, he manages to be a complete original and never derivative. Therefore, it’s not surprising that, while Charles is known primarily for his R&B work, some of the best country music of the 1960s comes from this enormous talent. This new Rhino collection combines Charles’ seminal releases Modern Sounds In Country & Western Music and its follow up Volume 2, with tracks recorded throughout his long career.
Charles was known to go through hundred of country songs to find the one or two he could make his own. What is so impressive about Charles’ work is that he always managed to completely personalize and funkify, through his brave interpretations, songs already strongly associated with other artists, such as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, Buck Owens’ “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail”, and Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Lookin’”.