Friday, September 25, 2015

Billy Price & Otis Clay This Time For Real

This writer remembers listening to the legendary Washington DC radio programmer, Jerry "The Bama" Washington, in the 1980s playing some deep soul along with blues on his Saturday afternoon WPFW program. It is where I first became introduced to the remarkable blues-eyed deep soul singer, Billy Price. Price grew up and modeled his music on the Hi Records great like O.V. Wright, Al Green, Syl Johnson and Otis Clay. On his first album, the title track was his take on Clay's "Is It Over?" On the basis of that recording, Clay joined Price, in the early eighties, on stage to sing it as a duet in a Washington DC club. And the two have been doing it together for years on stage, but finally Price and Clay have an album together, "This Time For Real" on the VizzTone distributed Bonedog Records.

Duke Robillard produced this and brings his guitar along with his band of Brice Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on bass, Mark Teixara on drums, Mark Earley on saxophones and Doug Woolverton on trumpet (Earley did the horn arrangements), with Theresa Davis, Dianne Madison and Diana Simon adding backing vocals. Together they produce some strong idiomatic backing modeled after the classic Stax and Hi recordings that provides a solid foundation for Price and Clay.

Otis Clay is a remarkable singer, although one might detect slight aging in his voice. However, it is not reflected in the character or phrasing here. Price's urgent style complements Clay so they come off quite well, like a modern Sam and Dave or Bobby and James Purifoy. The album kicks off on a strong note with the driving "Somebody's Changing My Baby's Sweet Mind," with the two taking things down on the ballad "I'm Afraid of Losing You." Clay did the classic Spinners classic "Love Don't Love Nobody" on his "Live in Japan" recording, and the two interpret in a manner that captures a bit more of the Philly Soul feel of the Spinners original.

"Going to the Shack" captures the classic Stax sound while the two reprise a Joe Tex ballad "I'll Never Do You Wrong." The funk of "Broadway Walk," with a choice Robillard solo, is followed with the country soul feel of "Book of Memories." This disc closes with a ripping rendition of Sam and Dave's "You Got Me Hummin'," that closes wonderful deep soul collaboration. It took three decades but finally Price and Clay got it done on "This Time For Real."

I received a review copy from VizzTone. Here is Otis Clay performing an O.V. Wright classic that has become a staple of Clay's repertoire as well as tune Billy price has also handled.

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