Friday, September 29, 2006

Soulin' With Brother Ray

Ray Charles - Sweet Young Thing Like You

Although Ray Charles is often considered to be one of the architects of soul music, with his gospel-turned-R&B recordings of the '50s setting the template for the genre, his legacy rests very little on his actual '60s soul recordings. In all fairness, Ray didn't like to be stuck in any genre, as he was clearly enamored with interpreting interesting songs, be they country, pop, jazz, soul or otherwise, and it can be argued that every song Ray sang was filled with his soulfulness. Fortunately for us soul fans, though, Ray actually recorded great straight-up soul material, drawing from the songwriting pens of Jimmy Holiday, Jimmy Lewis, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson and others to provide some great 45s and, in the case of Jimmy Lewis, the great Doing His Thing LP, perhaps the only true '60s soul album in his immense discography.

Today's selection was a 1968 ABC/Tangerine single penned by "Big" Dee Irwin, who recorded some great soul stuff on his own throughout the '60s and '70s. (Ray also addressed Erwin's "Your Love Is So Doggone Good" on the flip of his hit "Feel So Bad".) "Sweet Young Thing Like You" is very stylish, featuring Ray's big band to full effect and an arrangement which makes good use of turnaround riffs. The groove is interesting, also, switching tempo and feel from a very light funk to up-tempo soul within the verses. Ray's vocals are alternately declamatory and sweet, and he effectively works the lyrics to their emotional conclusion. It's a nice groove to ride into the weekend with!

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