Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable, or in the CD player. Today’s Classic Album Review remembers a 1964 effort from the legendary Ray Price. Coming off his first number one album, Night Life, Ray’s next effort fared almost as well. Love Life was released by Columbia in August, 1964, peaking at number three on the bestseller lists. There was one single on the album, the top ten hit, “Please Talk To My Heart”.
Opening this collection, is the Floyd Tillman classic, “This Cold War With You”. If Hank Williams was the greatest songwriter of the 1940′s and 1950′s, then Floyd may well have been number two. Outstanding composition, performed to perfection by one of Country music’s greatest singers.
In 1968, Ray hit the top ten with a polished version of “Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)”, but here, you are treated to a classic shuffle version, which is nothing short of stellar. Quicker paced, and perfectly executed by Ray and his band, the Cherokee Cowboys.
There’s no drop-off on the next track, “All Right (I’ll Sign The Papers)”, which four years later, became a Country 40 single for Mel Tillis. One has to wonder how big a hit it could have been had Ray’s version been put to 45 rpm.
Next, Ray tackles the Patsy Cline classic “I Fall To Pieces”, and does so rather well. Of course, the end result sounds nothing like the Cline standard, but one has to like how Ray adapts the song to a harder sound with that classic Ray Price shuffle beat.
“I Don’t Know Why (I Keep Loving You)” is yet another strong piece to be found on this album. Sounding like a broken record, but again, great overall sound, strong composition, and flawless vocal work.
Side one wraps with “How Long Is Forever”, which again, shows Ray at his best, as he vigorously attacks each note, hitting each one squarely on the head. As usual, I am shaking my head in utter amazement, as I listen, because Ray Price’s vocal abilities at his peak, were incredible.
The album’s only single gets the nod as the opening track on side two. “Please Talk To My Heart” was a top ten hit during the Fall of 1964, yet is one of Ray’s under-appreciated hits, a real shame. This is Ray at his best.
“A Way To Free Myself” simply continues the stampede of outstanding music from the master. Great beat mixed with a stellar song and of course, Ray Price behind the microphone.
Many may remember the Patsy Cline version of “You’re Stronger Than Me”, which wasn’t a Cline hit, but has been part of several Patsy Cline collections, over the years. I’ve always liked her version and still do, of course, but after a couple of listens to Ray’s version, I’m thinking this is how the song should be sang. It fits the Ray Price sound, perfectly.
Not unusual for a Ray Price album to feature a pretty steady beat, throughout, usually in the aforementioned shuffle style, and no different, here. Yet, Ray pulls it off, consistently, because of some excellent song choices made by Ray and his producer. ”Same Old Memories” is yet another example of that. You have to love the great steel guitar work, here, though to be fair, it’s outstanding throughout, but especially noticeable, here.
What’s amazing, is how Ray is able to take the Bill Anderson classic “Still” and successfully turn it into a rhythmic pounding of country beat, with just a bit of blues thrown in. When you change a song as much as it’s changed, here, you are taking a chance, yet Ray pulls it off.
If you were to rate singers on how well they can handle a Hank Williams song, Ray Price would have to be towards the top, and the album’s final track, “Cold Cold Heart”, is prime example why. Granted, there are some similarities in their vocal styles, but Ray is able to take the song and give it a completely different feel than the original. Whereas Hank’s classic is more mournful, Ray’s version is more about the pain, which he so effectively emits in his singing. Unbelievable track.
Sadly, this album is out of print, but well worth a search for a used copy, of which I found a few, most under $10.
My Standout Track is “Please Talk To My Heart”, while my Hidden Gem pick (a tough choice from so many great tracks) is “This Cold War With You”. Nothing here to merit a Weakest Track.
Overall, another outstanding example of why I think Ray Price is one of the greatest vocalists of all-time. And credit must also be given to the musicians who play flawlessly (I believe it was his backing band, The Cherokee Cowboys), as well as the producers, Don Law & Frank Jones, who found a strong collection of songs for this album. This is simply a great album, an easy 5 out of 5.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always found coming through these speakers, often courtesy of the sounds of the legendary Ray Price. Today’s Single Of The Day digs up one of his gems from 1958.
Ray had just finished 1957 with one of his classic number ones, “My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You”, and his next single would perform pretty well, also. Columbia Records released “Curtain In The Window” in February, and by the end of March, it was climbing the charts, where it would ultimately peak at three. The flip side, “It’s All Your Fault”, would also make a brief chart appearance as a “tag-along” title.
Featuring that classic Ray Price shuffle sound, I think this is one of his most underrated hits, a statement hard to make, because he had so many great records, of which many get overlooked. A track well worth listening to, anytime you get the chance.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
Greetings from Asheville, where the recovery from the BIG weekend is now complete. As I mentioned a few days ago, our fine, local record store, Harvest Records, had their anniversary sale, including LP’s and CD’s (thousands of them) in their basement, which is only opened for their anniversary sale. And did we come away with some goodies! Eddy Arnold, Ferlin Husky, Jim Ed Brown, Tanya Tucker, Anne Murray, Buck Owens, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Rosanne Cash, The Browns, George Hamilton IV, and so many more. Whereas, I usually give a listing of what I found on these posts, this time, I’ve decided to be different. Rather than just tell, this time we’re going to listen to them. On this Thursday’s edition of the Ultimate Twang Radio Show, I’ll be playing tracks from the albums found at the Harvest sale. If you’ve not previously listened, I urge you to join us. You can hear the show, online, at the Asheville Free Media site. It’s live, every Thursday afternoon at 4p, EST; or 3 Central, 1 Pacific. If you can’t join us for the live broadcast, then starting Friday morning, the archived version is available for listening, for the following week. You can find it at the Ultimate Twang page on Asheville Free Media’s site.
Click, below, for the links to both pages.
Categories: Thrift Shop Finds Tags: Anne Murray, Asheville Free Media, Buck Owens, classic country, Country Music, country oldies, country radio, Eddy Arnold, Ferlin Husky, George Hamilton IV, Jim Ed Brown, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Rosanne Cash, Tanya Tucker, The Browns
Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. Today, it’s a look back at some incredible career achievements in Country music, that, frankly, aren’t going to happen, again; or at least, very unlikely. The number one hit is something that nearly every artist, who decides to make music for a living, strives for, yet so few achieve. Almost as difficult, is the hit song. Yes, there are thousands of tracks and singles that have made the Country charts since 1944, but even that pales in comparison to the number that haven’t, not to mention the thousands of men and women who, despite their efforts, never even make it into a recording studio. With all of that, it makes these achievements even more incredible.
5. George Jones 145 Country 40 Appearances.
While it might not be completely inconceivable that George Strait could challenge this mark, I say it’s highly unlikely, given that Strait, at age 60, is sitting at 96, as of this writing. He’d have to chart 3 tracks a year for the next fourteen years, maybe a little sooner if he were to get credit as a guest on someone else’s release. George Jones, either as a solo, part of a duet, or as a guest, set this mark between 1955 and 2005, a fifty year spread. Seventy-eight of those tracks and singles made the top ten, and George is one of the very few who can lay claim to have made the Country 40 with singles that were released, during his time, on 78, 45, and CD single.
4. Kitty Wells Spends Fifteen Weeks At Number Two.
It happened in 1955, when her hit, “Making Believe” climbed to the runner-up spot, but was denied a number one placing by Webb Pierce’s “In The Jailhouse Now”, a twenty-one week number one hit. That takes us to number three.
3. A Track Spends Twenty Or More Weeks At Number One.
It’s only happened five times; “I’ll Hold You In My Heart” by Eddy Arnold, “I’m Movin’ On” by Hank Snow, and the aforementioned Webb Pierce “In The Jailhouse Now” have all claimed twenty-one weeks on top, while Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms” and Hank Snow’s “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” spent twenty. Why won’t it happen again? Well, consider that the Ray Price record was the last to do it…in 1956. The last time a record spent at least ten weeks on top was when Buck Owens’ “Love’s Gonna Live Here” topped the charts for sixteen weeks in 1963.
2. Eddy Arnold has 5 Of the Top 10 Songs.
It’s true. One week in June, 1948, The Tennessee Plowboy could count five tracks in the top ten. They included “Bouquet Of Roses”, “Anytime”, What A Fool I Was”, “I’ll Hold You In My Heart”, and “Texarkana Baby”.
1. Hank Williams Jr. Charts 9 Albums Simultaneously.
Unless Billboard changes it’s methodology, this will not happen, again, as after a certain amount of time passes, albums automatically leave the main chart for the catalog chart. But it was different in the 1980′s, when at one point, nine of Hank’s albums were on the Country charts. Others may have scored more number one singles, but when it came to selling albums and tapes, Hank Jr. was the man of the ’80′s in Country music.
There are some other interesting feats to consider, that didn’t make the top five. For instance, Eddy Arnold’s five uninterrupted number one hits in 1948, where each one replaced the previous single at the top spot. Very unlikely to happen, again, as well. There is also the year of 1960, where only five number one hits were recorded. All spending ten or more weeks at number one. Unlikely to happen again? Yes. Impossible? No. Two other marks of note, that are unlikely to fall, anytime soon, but can’t completely rule it out, are George Burns’ mark of scoring a Country 20 hit at 84 years of age, as well as Willie Nelson topping the charts at 70, courtesy of his duet with Toby Keith on “Beer For My Horses”. With Willie still around, it may be unlikely, but wouldn’t be totally shocking if he were to top either one of those marks.
Categories: History Tags: Anytime, Bouquet Of Roses, classic country, Country Music, country oldies, Eddy Arnold, George Burns, George Jones, George Strait, Hank Snow, Hank Williams Jr., History, I'll Hold You In My Heart, I'm Movin' On, Kitty Wells, Ray Price, Texarkana Baby, Webb Pierce, What A Fool I Was, Willie Nelson
Greetings from Asheville, where it’s time for yet another Classic Album Review, and today, it’s a good one. May, 1970, is the release date for today’s gem, Roy Drusky’s All My Hard Times. The release was Roy’s second-to-last for Mercury Records. Peaking at twenty on the country albums list, the title cut was the only single, and it’s peak at nine, would be Roy’s last top ten hit.
The title cut is the opening cut of this album, and what a cut it is! One of my Roy Drusky faves. An oft-used theme, throughout the history of country music, where a man’s luck has been mostly bad in his life, but in this case, there’s hope! He’s found just the right woman and so now all is right. In all seriousness, though, it is a great track, resisting any temptation to fall into the pit of sameness, with many of the other songs of this subject. A nice gospel-ish feel, as well.
This album is loaded with cover versions, and one of the best on the album is Roger Miller’s “Lock, Stock, And Teardrops”. A loping tempo, with Roy Drusky singing on the lower end of his range, but still comfortably, I’d argue that this version is as good as the Miller original. A Hidden Gem contender.
Though not as fully produced as the Ray Price classic, I’d argue that in some ways, Roy Drusky’s take on “For The Good Times” possesses a just-as-smooth and slightly more relaxed feel to it.
The Roy Drusky take on the Merle Haggard classic “Silver Wings” is completely different than Merle’s. Of course, nothing to complain about, vocal-wise, but the finished product is a little too polished for me. Still, not terrible, though.
Another Hidden Gem contender is one of the album’s original tracks, “At Times Everybody’s Blind”. Great melody, with an easy mid tempo pace. In this case, the polish is just fine, resulting in an outstanding track that I would argue was a missed single opportunity. It was the B-side to the title cut.
Side one ends with Roy Drusky’s version of the Charley Pride hit “(I’m So) Afraid Of Losing You Again”. Nothing fancy, just a simple track.
Side two opens with another original, and in this case, a song that I wonder if there might have been plans to release it as a single. I say that, because “You’re Shaking The Hand” gets co-billing on the album cover. If that was indeed the case, then what a shame those plans were scrapped. Again, a track strong enough to be worthy of a 7″ release. Great, mid-tempo track, here.
Next, it’s a cover of the Glen Campbell hit, “Everything A Man Could Ever Need”. Not bad, but this track is missing something, and that something is the fuller arrangement of the original, which results in a richer sound. Slick and polished isn’t always bad, as long as it’s used on the right pieces.
It’s hard to say which is the best cover on the album. On one hand, there’s the previously mentioned Roger Miller cover, then, you also have a stellar cover of the Eddy Arnold hit, “I’m Letting You Go”. The outstanding vocal work from Roy Drusky, mixed with a perfectly sparser arrangement, results in an outstanding track that you can’t not like. Also a Hidden Gem contender.
“Please Don’t Let Me Love You Anymore” is the album’s final original piece. A good quality, mid-tempo track that possesses a strong melody, along with some great steel guitar work, as well. You could also argue that this track could have been a great single, as well.
The album wraps with “You’re My World”, one of the great melodies of the 1960′s. Originally an Italian hit, the English version was first a hit for Cilla Black in 1964, and later, Helen Reddy in 1977. I first became familiar with this track, as a child on Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind” album (read that review, here). Whereas Glen’s version gets a little over-dramatic in places, the Roy Drusky version comes off a bit more restrained, but not without losing all of the drama, which is good for this piece. A piece that will certainly challenge anyone’s vocal range, it’s a very good end to this album.
Long out of print, I did locate several used copies in the price range of $5 to $15.
I give the title track the Standout Track. Hidden Gem is difficult, as there are several worthy contenders. I am going with “At Times’ Everybody’s Blind”. Weakest Track, I go with “Silver Wings” only because the arrangement is a little too slick.
Overall, a very good body of work from Roy Drusky. There’s enough difference in the compositions, the arrangements, and the tempo, that keeps any feeling of sameness at bay. Some might scoff that it’s too much Nashville Sound, but with maybe one exception, I would disagree. It’s a solid body of work that’s already been burned to CD from my vinyl copy, and has been played several times over the past week. This one’s a 4.5 out of 5.
Categories: Classic Album Reviews Tags: 1970, All My Hard Times, Charley Pride, Cilla Black, classic country, country albums, Country Music, country oldies, Eddy Arnold, Glen Campbell, Helen Reddy, Mercury Records, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Roger Miller, Roy Drusky