Thursday, May 31, 2007

What The Funk?!?

Ray Charles - Never Ending Song of Love

Okay, folks, your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul has an oddball on deck for today's selection. Everyone knows that Ray Charles was conversant in most genres of music and had no problem synthesizing them in his recordings (he wouldn't be the putative creator of soul music were it not the case, nor would the classic Country & Western albums have been made if he couldn't have brought his soulful magic), but "Never Ending Song of Love," from his 1972 ABC/Tangerine LP Through the Eyes of Love, finds Ray handling funk and country, discretely, within the same record. The way-too-short intro finds Brother Ray on the electric piano working it out with a funky drummer ("that's a new lick, isn't it?") and then, without skipping a beat, sliding into the country tune. And it's not even a funky country tune; it's one of the more cornier country tunes in Ray's discography, replete with a "Sing Along With Mitch"-styled chorus providing backup and some horn charts that were borderline comic. But, of course, since it's a Ray Charles record it actually works, as Ray brings his usual enthusiasm to his overdubbed vocals. It's a weird record, to be sure, but I guess that's why there could only be one "Genius."

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