ARTIST: Ray Price
TITLE: The Essential Ray Price (1951-62)
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Lot’s of ‘em on the country charts: Talk to Your Heart (#3), I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (#2), Crazy Arms (#1, #27 Hot 100), I’ve Got a New Heartache (#2), My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You (#1, #63 Hot 100), City Lights (#1, #71 Hot 100), Heartaches by the Number (#2), The Same Old Me (#1), One More Time (#5), Heart Over Mine (#5)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A lot of these have been covered by other artists.
LINEUP: Ray Price. Many with his band the Cherokee Cowboys, which included Roger Miller, Willie Nelson and Johnny Paycheck at times.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Country music HOF artist’s early works, which are quintessential honky-tonk songs.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ray Price had a long and storied career in Nashville, first as a singer of honky-tonk in the style of Hank Williams (expanding the genre to add some elements like walking bass), and then as a leading purveyor of “The Nashville Sound” tunes, ballads with strings and ornate production.
This is a collection of the honky tonk sound, which dominated country music in the 50’s. As you can see above, he cut his fair share of classic country songs in this period. However, for a novice country fan, a collection of this size may be overwhelming at first. I’d definitely recommend picking and choosing what catches your ear, like I did. However, you can’t deny Price’s legacy in the shaping of country music, and his voice is an important one.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: For a time he roomed with Hank Williams in Nashville.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but another comp called The Essential Ray Price has many of these cuts with a second CD focusing on post-1962. I’ll review that one later.
GRADE: B+: There’s a lot of material here, and more on other CDs and collections around. This would be an A collection for those who love honky tonk, old country music, or Price himself.