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Song of the Day: Ray Charles, “(Night Time Is) The Right Time”

Ray Charles, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” – from volume 4 (1957-1960) of the massive compilation/collection Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 – originally released as a single in 1958.

When that voice comes up screaming “Baby!” – wow. It knocks your socks off, eh?

You know, you always hear about Ray Charles – even before that bio-pic with Jamie Foxx – but I somehow never really warmed to him, never really got grabbed. I think I kept hearing stuff that sounded too… smooth. Too easy listening. Not R&B enough. Even his appearance in The Blues Brothers didn’t really change my stance. But when I heard the stuff by him on the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues compilation – well, like I said, it knocked my socks off.

This song in particular. One thing I love about it is you can hear it looking in both directions – if you will allow me to mix my senses/metaphors in that way. On the one hand, a very powerful blues influence, an underlying structure of twelve bar blues, and on the other clearly looking forward to rock n roll, particularly when that screaming voice comes in, raw and powerful. One listen to this song and I understood why I kept hearing about Ray Charles – and I wanted to hear more from him. I can’t believe I wasn’t listening to him all the time, all along.

It makes sense that it would be “looking back” at the blues since in fact the song is an old blues standard:

“Night Time Is the Right Time” is a blues standard that has been interpreted and recorded by a variety of music artists. First recorded in 1937 by Roosevelt Sykes, a.k.a. “The Honeydripper,” the song features the memorable refrain “Because night time, is the right time, to be with the one you love” towards the end of each twelve-bar verse. (via Wikipedia.)

The rock n roll element – well, I guess it is there in the way Ray Charles makes it swing and screech – makes it, in fact, rock and roll – and again in that amazing voice that comes in – which belongs to Margie Hendricks, the lead in Ray Charles’ regular group of backup singers, the Raelettes.

I’m not the only one to be grabbed by this song. Here are some covers of it:

Dirty Dozen Brass Band, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” – 2005-05-28 – bwfr #8/Harmony Park
Aretha Franklin, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” [excerpt] – from The Queen of Soul
Bobby Powell, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” [excerpt]
Anna King, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” – from Back to Soul (1964)
John Scofield, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” – from That’s What I Say
Elvin Bishop, “(Night Time is) The Right Time” – on IndieFeed

You should really check out the whole Altantic Rhythm and Blues compilation – an 8 CD set full of wonderful discoveries:

Here are just a few of the other tracks on this set:

I’ll Get Along Somehow – Ruth Brown
One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show – Stick McGhee
Ting-A-Ling – The Clovers
Shake, Rattle & Roll – Big Joe Turner
Sh-Boom – The Chords
Fools Fall in Love – The Drifters
Yakety Yak – The Coasters
Spanish Harlem – Ben E. King
Gee Whiz! (Look at His Eyes) – Carla Thomas
Green Onions – Booker T. & the MG’s
Walking the Dog – Rufus Thomas
Mr. Pitiful – Otis Redding
Got to Get You off My Mind – Solomon Burke
In the Midnight Hour – Wilson Pickett
When a Man Loves a Woman – Percy Sledge
Soul Man – Sam & Dave
Respect – Aretha Franklin
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
Tighten Up – Archie Bell & the Drells
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
Ghetto – Donny Hathaway
Groove Me – King Floyd
Rock Steady – Aretha Franklin
Clean up Woman – Betty Wright
I’ll Be Around – The Spinners
One of a Kind (Love Affair) – The Spinners

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows

zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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