Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ray Charles: Wish You Were Here Tonight [Columbia, 1983]
Two decades ago, on Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Charles transfigured pop, prefigured soul, and defined modern country & western music. This return to a symbolic Nashville (recorded in his own L.A. studio, natch, though unlike 1970's Love Country Style it leans more heavily on banjo-mandolin-steel than on Sid Feller's strings) celebrates his latest contract with yet another rehash of his jokey, deeply felt shtick. Not that it can't be great shtick. But he's always better off grabbing other people's classics than trying to create new ones from scratch, and I bet he's got publishing on three or four of the songs you never heard of. B