From the Vault...


Ray Charles & Friends
"Super Hits"

© Columbia Records


track listing
  • Two Old Cats Like Us
    [with Hank
    Williams Jr.]
  • This Old Heart
    (Is Gonna Rise
    [with The>
    Oak Ridge Boys]
  • We Didn't See A Thing
    [with George Jones
    and Chet Atkins]
  • Who Cares
    [with Janie Fricke]
  • Rock And Roll Shoes
    [with B.J. Thomas]
  • Friendship
    [with Ricky Skaggs]
  • It Ain't Gonna Worry
    My Mind
    [with Richard Leigh]
  • Little Hotel Room
    [with Merle
  • Crazy Old Soldier
    [with Johnny Cash]
  • Seven Spanish Angels
    [with Willie Nelson]

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
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    Ray Charles & Friends
    "Super Hits"

    Ray Charles returns as our Album Pick of the Week, with an album titled Super Hits, yet it is really his actual 1984 album of Country duets, originally titled Friendship. One of the songs from this album, "Seven Spanish Angels" became a #1 hit on Billboard's Country songs chart, in 1985. The Super Hits title is somewhat confusing here, due to the fact that most Super Hits albums are basically "greatest hits" compilations by the artists. The original Friendship album has been reissued on CD, with the original artwork and bonus tracks. Duets with Tony Bennett and Billy Joel are the two bonus tracks. (I just looked up the Friendship title on Amazon, and it is available as an mp3 download.)

    Ray Charles has been an icon to R&B, Blues, and Country during his lifetime. Mostly popular with many songs in the style of R&B, Ray had no trouble crossing over to other charts. [His box set, The Birth Of Soul is an incredible look at his peak in R&B, likewise another album of more popular hits, the double-CD Uh Huh. (Of course, there are other "greatest hits" compilations out there, recently released.)

    Just as many "Duets" albums, this one is equally exceptional. Released in 1985, there are many songs in the traditional 1980s style, most notably three songs: "Who Cares" (with Janie Fricke), "Rock And Roll Shoes" (with B.J. Thomas), and "Friendship" (with Ricky Skaggs). On that note, "This Old Heart" (with The Oak Ridge Boys) starts out with the style of Ray's R&B, yet it kicks in with the typical '80s country afterwards.

    What makes the Country fan perk, are the duets with the Legends of Country, most particularly, Ray's duets with Hank Williams Jr., Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Any Hank Jr. fan will truly enjoy the duet "Two Old Cats Like Us." This song can easily fit a "best of" compilation of Hank Jr.'s hits. The duet with George Jones and Chet Atkins, "We Didn't See A Thing" is another good tune, easily fitting the style of Hank Jr. also. If you're familiar with the old standard, "There's No Place Like Home (For The Holidays)," this is said for the Merle Haggard duet, "Little Hotel Room." Speaking of Merle, the Johnny Cash duet, "Crazy Old Soldier" has one of Merle's songs stuck in my head as I listen to it -- "Are The Good Times Really Over." And as for Willie Nelson, the #1 hit "Seven Spanish Angels" is definitely the best song from this album.

    Who is Richard Leigh? The duet with him, "It Ain't Gonna Worry My Mind" is another good tune, and Leigh's voice has a similiarity to another Country Legend, Mickey Gilley. The research of Richard Leigh -- He is a songwriter and singer, best known for writing popular Country hits such as "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," and "I'll Get Over You," (both songs were performed by Crystal Gayle). Other popular singers who have performed Leigh's written songs (and reached #1) were Mickey Gilley, Reba McEntire, Steve Wariner, Don Williams, Kathy Mattea. Other artists include Billy Dean and The Dixie Chicks.

    Ray Charles & Friends' Super Hits is a great look at another source of music Ray Charles can easily put his name on, and that is Country music. Any Duets album with a popular singer always gets the music lover's interest. Many artists have done this, most recently Tony Bennett, and Lionel Richie. Ray Charles is no exception for this event. His music has always been admired, and he was truly one of the best performers who ever lived in popular music. Ray Charles passed away in 2004 at the age of 73. He has left behind a legacy of music to be admired and inspired for past, present, and future musicians and music lovers for generations to come.

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