Saturday, October 16, 2010

Charlie Rich: Much more than just a country singer

"The radio's spitting out Charlie Rich... He sure can sing, that son of a bitch."

Tom Waits, "Putman Country" from the CD Nighthawks at the Diner
To most people Charlie Rich will be remembered as a county singer. In the 1970's he achieved country superstar status with songs like Behind Closed Doors, A Women left Lonely and the Most Beautiful Girl. But those country songs were a small part of Rich's musical career and legacy. Rich's music defied categorisation and he transcended genres including gospel, jazz, folk, blues, country and western, rockabilly and swing.

Charlie Rich died in 1995 and his last album, recorded in 1992 and titled Pictures and Paintings is an example of his musical diversity. While the album has a heavy jazz influence, Rich ranges far and wide across musical genres. The closing track Feel Like Going Home is a haunting gospel inspired track. Pictures and Paintings appears in my all time favourite 30 albums and Feels Like Going Home one of my favourite tracks.

The  two CD compilation Feel Like Going Home: The Essential Charlie Rich is probably the best introduction to his remarkable body of work.

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