Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Billy Price Reckoning

Billy Price

This latest recording by the blue-eyed soul blues singer had him team with guitarist and producer, Kid Andersen. It was recorded at Andersen's Greaseland Studio with Anderson on guitar (and organ on two tracks), Alex Pettersen on drums, Jerry Jemmott on bass, Jim Pugh on keyboards, Johnny Bones on sax, and Konstantins Jemeljanovs on trumpet with Nancy Wright taking a tenor sax solo on one selection among others guesting here. There are originals from Price, Jim Britton, and French guitarist Fred Chapellier, along with songs previously recorded by the likes of Bobby Bland, Otis Redding, Swamp Dogg, and Johnny Rawls.

Price has been singing this music for decades. This writer remembers hearing his strong renditions of songs associated with of O.V. Wight on the Bama Hour over WPFW hosted by the late Jerry Washington. One can't have a stronger endorsement than this of how strong a singer Price was, and is, in this musical vein. This latest recording shows he still brings everything into the fervent, soulful music here.

There are so many gems here starting with the bluesy and driving "39 Steps," that opens the program, followed by his straight reworking of "Dreamer," the title track of a 1974 Bobby Bland album. It has a nice arrangement, strings and vocal chorus. The title track is composed by William Troiani and Hakon Hoye and opens with a brief excerpt of old-time preaching. It is a funky soul performance with punchy horns to which Andersen adds some punchy guitar. There is a driving take on J.J. Cale's "No Time" followed by a nice rendition of an Otis Redding soul ballad, "I Love You More Than Words Can Say," with one of his finest vocals here. It is followed by an uptempo rendition of Johnny Rawls' "I Keep Holding On." Other strong performances include his insistent vocal on Denise Lasalle's "Get Your Lie Straight," the original "Expert Witness," with a riff evocative of the Five Royales' classic "Think," and Swamp Dogg's topical "Synthetic World," with its call for a more natural world.

With Kid Andersen's crisp production and strong studio support for the stalwart blue-eyed soul-blues singer, "Reckoning" is another welcome addition to Billy Price's body of recordings.

I received  my review copy from VizzTone. This review has appeared in the July-August 2018 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 379), although I have made a few minor stylistic changes to the published review for clarity's sake. Billy Price's website is http://billyprice.com. Here is a video on the making of "Reckoning."

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