Listen/Download -Ray Charles – Sticks and Stones
The week is well underway, and I am currently immersed in an object lesson on how no schedule ever goes un-F’ed-with, ever.
Not that I had a lot on my plate anyway (nothing hard and fast) but I sit here with not one but two sick children, and I have just been informed by the plumber that the existing shower apparatus needs to be replaced (not a small job).
I had a nice hot cup of coffee, and peeled a couple of delicious clementines, but not even those gustatory wonders have proven powerful enough to set things right.
It is in that spirit that I bring you not the song I was planning on posting today, but rather something I was listening to on the MP3 delivery device last night as I was struggling to get back to sleep (sick child related). The song in question is something I digimatized last year, and promptly forgot about. I tend to record vinyl in lots (as they are amassed in the wholly disorganized “new arrivals” pile) and then transfer them onto the iPod, organized in playlists. Once they’re in place, I listen to them as much as possible to “explore” the music, deciding what I want to post and when.
So, last night I’m prowling around inside some older playlists to see if there was anything I had neglected, and lo and behold Brother Ray pops his head up, admonishes me for passing him over and giving me a (figurative, and soulful) smack upside the head.
The odd thing is – and this has happened before – Ray Charles is a musician that I pretty much worship, and the likelihood is that I failed to post ‘Sticks and Stones’ sooner, not out of neglect but because I was waiting for a slot to open that would do a record like this justice. I over-thought the matter, and forgot all about it (until last night).
It bears mentioning that the first time I heard ‘Sticks and Stones’, it was not as performed by Ray Charles, but rather as a cover by the great mod revivalists the Secret Service sometime around 1985/86, not doubt on the stage of the legendary Dive in New York City.
Unlike some of their more Jam-influenced brethren, the Secret Service drew heavily from the sounds of soul and R&B as previously recycled by the first wave British Invasion acts. It was via their playlists that I first heard Rodge Martin’s ‘Lovin’ Machine’ (which they picked up from an Easybeats video), and today’s selection, which they no doubt heard via the 1964 cover by the Zombies.
‘Sticks and Stones’, written by Titus Turner and Henry Glover (though only Turner is credited on this 45) is a classic, and a stellar example of how Ray Charles – seldom thought of as an out and out soul singer - was one of the (maybe THE) most important transitional/formative figures bridging R&B and soul. Released in 1960, his version of ‘Sticks and Stones’ is a powerhouse, with a rolling quasi-latin beat (see ‘What’d I Say’) and an electric piano solo that sounds like so much lightning shooting from the master’s fingers.
It’s a brilliant performance, and proof once again that any self respecting fan of music (any genre) needs to get some Ray Charles in their life (and ears).
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Friday with some funk.
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