Ray Charles: A Lost Moment Of Rock 'n' Soul

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Ray Charles' gritty voice takes a trifle of a tune and transforms "Isn't It Wonderful" into an intimate and enticing lover's plea. i

Ray Charles' gritty voice takes a trifle of a tune and transforms "Isn't It Wonderful" into an intimate and enticing lover's plea. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Ray Charles' gritty voice takes a trifle of a tune and transforms "Isn't It Wonderful" into an intimate and enticing lover's plea.

Ray Charles' gritty voice takes a trifle of a tune and transforms "Isn't It Wonderful" into an intimate and enticing lover's plea.

Courtesy of the artist

Monday's Pick

Song: "Isn't It Wonderful"

Artist: Ray Charles

CD: Rare Genius: The Unreleased Masters

Genre: Soul

Nearly six years after his death, it's still a thrill to hear Ray Charles' distinctive and familiar voice singing "Isn't It Wonderful," an unfamiliar song posthumously pieced together from barebones vocal tracks. With new instrumentation, it appears on a compilation titled Rare Genius: The Unreleased Masters.

Recorded in the late 1980s, "Isn't It Wonderful" is built around a mid-tempo groove and a single-minded message summed up by one of several clich├ęs here: "Let's not wait any longer." The compilation's producers kept their meddling to a minimum: They added an organ line that whistles and burbles playfully around the melody, a pungently twanging guitar and a strong, steady drumbeat. Call it classic Ray Charles rock 'n' soul.

No one would confuse "Isn't It Wonderful" with Charles' best moments, but his genius lies in the way his gritty voice can take a trifle of a tune and transform it into an intimate and enticing lover's plea, beautifully seasoned with blue notes, off-the-cuff testimony ("I'm trying to tell you something") and libidinous chuckles.

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