A great mid-‘80s compilation of everybody’s favourite saxophonist (?!?!?) Ray Charles, I bought this after What’d I Say got stuck in my head once. I picked up the 7” of What’d I Say, but I needed more. And this gave me everything I needed – his band-stomping singles throughout the 1950s. Rock n’ roll in everything but name, before rock n’ roll even existed.
I’d always loved Mess Around ever since I’d seen John Candy come across it on a late-night radio station in Planes, Trains & Automobiles. It’s a great scene, with Candy playing air piano, air saxophone and generally having a great old time while Steve Martin slept in the seat next to him.
Some of these singles have aged a little better than others. I’ve Got A Woman sounds like it was written yesterday; helped along by Kanye West’s recent “re-imagining” of the song with Jamie Foxx. On the other hand, a song like It Should’ve Been Me sounds like it’s stuck in the 1950s; the sound of a musical artist filling the need for material, maybe just doing what’s asked of him, while still trying to find his true voice.
That voice was well and truly in place by the time That’s Enough came around in 1959. Just six years after he exploded onto the R&B charts with Mess Around, Ray sounds masterful.
But What’d I Say? Man, I could listen to that electric piano intro on a loop for the rest of my life and I’d never get bored of it.
Hit: I’ve Got A Woman
Hidden Gem: Losing Hand