Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music [Rhino, 1962]
So much more than proof we no longer need that an African-American can sing country music, this CD did nothing less than redefine American pop. Sonically bolder (and schlockier) than, for instance, Owen Bradley's proto-countrypolitan Patsy Cline productions, its massed strings, horns, and choruses broke down the walls between classic Tin Pan Alley and declasse Nashville. In the world it created, not only could a black person sing the American songbook Ella Fitzgerald owned by then, but a country black person could take it over. Soon Charles's downhome diction, cotton-field grit, cornpone humor, and overstated shows of emotion were standard operating procedure in American music black and white. [Rolling Stone]