Boy Howdy! may be CREEM’s official mascot, but Lester Bangs remains the heart and sin-stained soul. Bangs honed his signature, fast-and-loose style with longform pieces like this affectionate, sprawling piece on Ray Charles. Bangs writes, “I can’t think of any rock or jazz musician working anywhere, who has so effectively translated his personal tribulations into a carefully controlled yet shiveringly impassioned statement bespeaking not mere travail but self-transcendence. For anyone interested in the foundations of rock, any Ray Charles album is a must. As Bangs puts it, “From Robert Plant’s psychedelic simulated orangutan orgasms in Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ freakout, to Lou Reeds’ series of modal croons and barked imprecations in the Velvet Underground’s trailblazing ‘Sister Ray’...Ray Charles was there first.