ABC-Paramount 410

Producer: Sid Feller

Track listing: Bye Bye, Love / You Don’t Know Me / Half as Much / I Love You So Much It Hurts /Just a Little Lovin’ / Born to Lose / Worried Mind / It Makes No Difference Now / You Win Again / Careless Love / I Can’t Stop Loving You / Hey, Good Lookin’

ray-charles-modern-sounds-in-country-western-music

June 23, 1962
14 weeks mono; 1 week stereo

By 1962, Ray Charles was already a 10-year recording veteran who had shown he was adapt at a number of musical styles, from R&B fare, such as his first Number One single, “Georgia on My Mind,” to jazz, which he explored on the 1961 album Genius + Soul = Jazz. That album, recorded with mem­bers of Count Basie’s Band, reached number four on the album chart. Yet Charles’s musical ambitions stretched far beyond just R&B and jazz. He also loved country music, and planned to make an entire album devoted to the genre. It would be called Modem Sounds in Country and Western Music.

“The album was a bit different for me, since it was completely different from rhythm and blues,” says Charles. “It was one of the few times when I thought about something I wanted to do and it really worked.”

Yet Charles’s decision to make a Country album caught Sam Clark, the president of ABC-Paramount Records, by surprise. “He didn’t fight me on it, but he thought I was making a mistake. He thought I would lose a lot of my fans. He had a legitimate concern, but I felt if lost any fans I would gain as many as you would lose. He just said, ‘It’s your career, so if you want to take a chance, go ahead.'”

Although the record label considered Charles’s decision to record a country album a gamble, the singer-pianist did­n’t think of the project in those terms. “When I do music, I don’t think of it as being something risky,” he says. “I’ve always loved country music since I was a child. My mom used to let me stay on Saturday nights to listen to the Grand Ole Opry. So, as I musician, I wanted to do a country album, not as a country singer, but do it my way.”

The most difficult part of making the album was deciding on material, Charles says. “I had to search through about 150 different tapes looking for songs that would fit me,” he says. Charles ended up with a diverse selec­tion of tunes made famous by the likes of Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, and the Everly Brothers. “When I was choosing the songs, I was not getting into the per­sonalities,” says Charles. “I was just try­ing to choose the songs. I didn’t care who did them, whether it was Hank Williams or George Jones.”

Yet Charles didn’t just record the songs as straightforward country tracks. Instead, he utilized a string section and a choir. “We had a bunch strings and voices and stuff,” says Charles. “So, it was not done like a typical country album. We took country songs and modernized them.”

Although it has been reported that Charles didn’t want any singles released from the album, he says that was not the case. “I never told ABC how to do mar­keting,” he says. “I always tell record companies, ‘Let me do the music and you the marketing.'” The label did just that, releasing Charles’s version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” after actor Tab Hunter began to receive airplay with his cover of the song. Charles’s version won out, reaching Number One on the Hot 100 on June 2, 1962. Three weeks later, Modem Sounds in Country and Western Music joined the single atop the charts.

THE TOP FIVE
Week of June 23, 1962

1. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Ray Charles
2. West Side Story, Soundtrack
3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Henry Mancini
4. Stranger on the Shore, Mr. Acker Bilk
5. Blue Hawaii, Elvis Presley