Thursday, September 30, 2010


I love Charlie Rich. He's a Charmer.

His time at Hi Records in the mid sixties was brief and not particularly significant for either party, but i've always found the records they made rather charming.

Charlie probably cut his goldiest bricks at Sun in the late 50's but his best stuff always had more of a roly poly barrelhouse piano storytelling vibe than the standard psychotic knife-weilding energy of his label mates. He'd finally hit on some big silver haired Nashville country mega stardom recording for Epic in the seventies, but for the most part that stuff sounds pretty staid.

Hi was still searching for an identity, presently halfway between the hokey instrumentals they'd started with and the soupy smooth memphis soul they'd hit with in the early 70's, desperately searching for a star vocalist. Charlie wasn't it, the records didn't do shit, and within a year he had his walking papers, but I kinda wish they'd stuck with it a few more years. The records aren't really classics, but there was some real potential in the sound they were getting. Charlie always wanted be a jazz pianist (and spent the late forties working supper clubs in Mel torme mode), he had a great country crooners voice, and he always had a natural feel for for r'n'b, and I guess that all comes together nicely on the Hi Stuff. He did a whole album of Hank Williams songs which is a bit patchy, but I love his dreamy rendition of Wedding Bells. Pass On By is classic memphis country soul coming from the country side, and Can't Get Right has that nice mid period Hi strutting organ funk I could listen to all day.

All Charlies Hi stuff was collected on a CD in 2000 that's still pretty easy to find, so if you dig these, git out there and cop you some silver haired country soul...

Wedding Bells
Pass On By
Can't Get Right

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