Alive and Strange
Veteran blue-eyed soul singer Billy Price follows his acclaimed collaboration with the late Otis Clay that won a Blues Music Award. It has been some three decades since the late Jerry 'The Bama' Washington who play Price's covers of O.V. Wright and others over WPFW in Washington, DC. Price is still at it with a mix of southern soul and city blues covers and idiomatic originals that he recently documented on this live recording with the Billy Price Band. The members of the Billy Price Band are Steve Delach (guitar), Tom Valentine (bass), Dave Dodd (drums), Jimmy Britton (keyboards), and Eric DeFade (tenor sax). There are guest horn players and background vocalists on this.
Price is in good form although his the tone of voice seems to be a tad flat as if perhaps showing a bit of the years of performing. Still it doesn't detract from these straight-forward and heartfelt performances. The tone is set with a rendition of Carl Sims' "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without The Blues," with Delach's guitar complementing Price's vocal of a place full wall to wall and everyone having a ball, followed by a nice delivery of William Bell's lament as since she has been gone, Bill is living the "Lifestyles Of The Poor And Unknown."
Price's own "Something Strange" is a driving funky blues with punchy horns. Price does a solid cover of a lesser known Bobby Bland recording, "This Time I'm Gone For Good." It is followed by a nice version of Earl Thomas' soul ballad about holding on for "One More Day," with nice jazzy guitar and tenor sax solos. After a sober treatment of a Percy Mayfield gem, "Nothing Stays The Same Forever," Price and Band get into a James Brown cover "Never Get Enough," and then a brassy rendition of Magic Sam's "What Have I Done Wrong," which also showcases solos from Delach (particularly outstanding here) and DeFade.
One of Price's strength is his incorporation in his repertoire of lesser known gems such as George Torrence's 1968 recording "Lickin' Stick," before closing the live set from the Club Cafe in 2016 with a wonderfully paced Roy Milton classic, "R.M. Blues," with Joe Herndon blasting the trumpet solo. A bonus track, "Making Plans," was recorded at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music in 2012, that also showcases Price's ability at putting together a lyric. This bonus track adds a nice close to a real good recording by the veteran singer.
I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review appeared in the May-June 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 372). Here is the Billy Price Band performing "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without The Blues."