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Ray Price - 'The Essential Ray Price'

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Ray Price - The Essential Ray Price

Ray Price - The Essential Ray Price

Legacy Recordings
The Essential Ray Price Bottom Line:

Ray Price is now, and has been, consistently one of the finest country music vocalists ever born. His rich voice and classic style have made him a legendary performer, many of his songs considered masterpieces. But Ray Price is one of those multi-layered artists, one of those few who managed the jump from pure honky-tonk to Countrypolitan crossover gold. From "Crazy Arms" and "Heartaches by the Number" all the way to "For the Good Times" and "I Won't Mention It Again," this is all of Ray Price's gold, and one of those fine, fine Essential collections.

Honky-Tonker and Countrypolitan

There are only a few classic country singers who managed to chart consistently as both a honky-tonker and as a countrypolitan crossover artist; amongst them Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, and, of course, Ray Price. Ray Price's classic, mellow sound was just as familiar to traditional country lovers as it was to those who liked the heavy-orchestrated sound of "Nashville's Golden Age" countrypolitan; he could just as easily croon "Make the World Go Away" as he could swing "Release Me." From his cover of Hank Williams' "Weary Blues" all the way to "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me," Ray Price could (and, at 81 years old, still can!) sing it all. Ray Price, the Texas-born "Cherokee Cowboy," charted his first single on Columbia fifty-five years ago, riding a wave of popularity in country music that followed the end of World War II. Price moved to Nashville in 1952 and started out opening for Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys (occasionally filling in when the star couldn't make it). Ol' Hank got Ray Price onto the Grand Ole Opry, and the two remained close friends until Hank's death in 1953. Price continued touring with the Drifting Cowboys until he realized he was being pegged as just a "Hank Williams' cover artist," and he parted ways with Hank's old band and set forth to make his own unique style. He hired on his own band and created the country shuffle sound with his wildly popular cover of "Crazy Arms," which stayed at #1 for 20 weeks (notably, it knocked Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" out of that spot).

Not just another Texas Musician

Ray Price is not just another Texan influenced strongly by Bob Wills - Wills was actually Ray's mentor and friend, and co-wrote two of his hits which appear on this collection, "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You" and "San Antonio Rose," which features a young Willie Nelson on guitar. Willie got his start as a Cherokee Cowboy, playing with Ray, as did other distinctive artists like Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Bush, and Darrell McCall. All of these artists make an appearance on this collection, as musicians with the Cherokee Cowboys. Price was also savvy enough to know he had some great writers playing with him, as several songs by these guys also appear here, such as Roger Miller's "Invitation to the Blues." Other amazing writers featured in his collection include Harlan Howard ("Heartaches by the Number"), Mel Tillis ("Heart Over Mind"), Conway Twitty ("Walk Me To The Door), and Hank Cochran ("Make The World Go Away"), as well as, of course, Willie Nelson ("Night Life").

Ray recognized talent

It's fairly obvious that in addition to his remarkable vocal skills, Ray Price is also pretty canny at choosing his supporting talent and his songs. Ray Price was one of the first artists to cover a young Kris Kristofferson, taking "For The Good Times" to Kris's first #1, just a few months before Johnny Cash did the same for "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

Switching from Western Swing to Countrypolitan

Ray might have lost a few fans when he moved from his western-swing/shuffle sound to countrypolitan, but it's hard to argue with success. While it's certainly easy to say that the same thing that's happening now in country music is what happened back then, in the mid-60's, it's not really true. All sorts of country music were still welcome on radio then, and while Ray Price's countrypolitan hits were charting, so were those he influenced with his original shuffle sound, like Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Waylon Jennings. Ray Price might have taken up the strings of countrypolitan, but he never lost that Texas feel, even when he won his one and only Grammy, Country Male Vocal for "For The Good Times", in 1970. Price comes back to the shuffle every so often, singing duets with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and he's still going strong. This essential collection is a great one for anyone who wants to trace the career of a true country legend.

'The Essential Ray Price' Track Listing:

DISC 1:

  1. Jealous Lies
  2. If You're Ever Lonely Darling
  3. Weary Blues
  4. Talk To Your Heart
  5. Release Me
  6. I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)
  7. Crazy Arms
  8. You Done Me Wrong
  9. Wasted Words
  10. I've Got A New Heartache
  11. My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You
  12. Curtain In The Window
  13. Invitation To The Blues
  14. City Lights
  15. Heartaches By The Number
  16. The Same Old Me
  17. One More Time
  18. I Wish I Could Fall In Love Today
  19. Heart Over Mind
  20. Soft Rain

DISC 2:

  1. San Antonio Rose
  2. I've Just Destroyed The World (I'm Living In)
  3. Pride
  4. Walk Me To The Door
  5. Night Life
  6. Make The World Go Away
  7. Burning Memories
  8. The Other Woman (In My Life)
  9. Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me
  10. A Way To Survive
  11. I'm Still Not Over You
  12. I Let My Mind Wander
  13. Danny Boy
  14. She Wears My Ring
  15. You Wouldn't Know Love
  16. For The Good Times
  17. I Won't Mention It Again
  18. I'd Rather Be Sorry
  19. You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
  20. Faded Love
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