Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ray Price & Wanda Jackson

This remarkable photo of Ray Price and Wanda Jackson comes to us from the Nudie Cohn Facebook page.  Thanks for sharing.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Doug Sahm - I'll Be There

Sir Douglas Band  -  I'll Be There

Doug tips his cap to one of the all-time Texas greats, Ray Price....

Photo: Huey Meaux and Doug Sahm in the studio.

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Interview With Ray Price

Ray Price Interview - Side One   (7:45)

Ray Price Interview - Side Two   (6:14)

Interspersed with some sound clips from Ray's records, here's an interview with the man himself.  Listen in as he reflects upon his quest for vocal perfection, his technique, and his general approach to his career.

Ray Price - If She Could See Me Now

Ray Price  -  If She Could See Me Now

Quoting from Ray's Country Music Hall Of Fame plaque:  "Ray Price - January 26, 1926.  Born in Perryville, Texas, Ray Price started performing in grade school.  After four years in the Marines, and some college, his plans of becoming a rancher changed when he joined KRLD's Big Jamboree in Dallas in 1948 and landed a record deal with Bullet records.  In 1952, he signed with Columbia records and joined the Grand Ole Opry.  Known as "The Cherokee Cowboy", Price topped the country charts in 1956 with "Crazy Arms".  Other Number Ones included "City Lights", "For The Good Times" and "You're The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me."  His innovative style bridged the country and pop music fields and brought a new sense of sophistication to country music."

My only question is why did they decide to use Joe E. Brown's image on the plaque?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You

Ray Price, king of the honky-tonks.

Thanks to Gatorrock787 for having such a great YouTube channel, currently featuring 1,542 clips of outstanding quality.

Sittin' & Thinkin'

Ray Price - Sittin' & Thinking

Friday, April 27, 2012

Heartaches By The Number

Ray Price  -  Heartaches By The Number

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Better Class Of Losers

Ray Price  -  A Better Class Of Losers  (3:14)

Here's a 45 from a bit later in Ray's career, 1986, after the big hits stopped coming.  As you can hear though, only Ray was suffering, not the music itself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Swingin' Doors

Ray Price  -  Swingin' Doors  (3:02)

Tonight's agenda?  Seeing Merle Haggard at the Macon City Auditorium, built in 1925 and mere blocks away from where Little Richard used to wash dishes at the Greyhound bus station.  So with that in mind, here's Ray's version of one of Merle's signature tunes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ray Price - Just Call Me Lonesome

Ray Price  -  Just Call Me Lonesome  (2:30)

Just Call Me Lonesome was made famous when Eddie Arnold's recording of it went to #2 on the country charts in 1955. Ray's desperately sad version came out ten years later, on his LP The Other Woman.  In the picture, Miami country DJ Cracker Jim Brooker poses for a shot alongside Price.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Take These Chains From My Heart (MP3)

Ray Price  -  Take These Chains From My Heart  (2:25)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

San Antonio Rose - Ray Price

Ray Price - San Antonio Rose (3:21)

Here's the title track to Ray's outstanding Bob Wills tribute LP San Antonio Rose, released in 1961. That's Jimmy Day on steel and Tommy Jackson on the fiddle.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 24th Hour (Ray Price MP3)

Ray Price - The Twenty-Fourth Hour

Sometimes Ray would go hunting or fishing to take his mind off his endless romantic woes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ray Price - Another Bridge To Burn (MP3)

Ray Price - Another Bridge To Burn

Sunday, April 15, 2012

For The Good Times (MP3)

Ray Price - For The Good Times (3:49)

Here's a pretty good example of what Ray Price was capable of when he veered off the honky-tonk path and incorporated some pop flourishes. It was all tremendously controversial at the time and some of Ray's fans were bitterly opposed to the increasing prominence of this softened approach in his music. While there is probably nothing I enjoy hearing more than a classic Ray Price honky-tonk shuffle, this sounds pretty great to my ears.

The original version of the song, by author Kris Kristofferson, can be found on his debut album, Kristofferson, which was released in 1970. Price's version followed soon after and was, I think, the first of many cover versions that have been released over the years.

Relaxing At Home With Ray Price

You know, if I were a complete lunatic this might be a good photo for a caption contest.

I Lie A Lot

Ray Price - I Lie A Lot

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Don't You Believe Her (MP3)

Ray Price - Don't You Believe Her (2:37)

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Essence of The Ray Price Sound

Please note that this was stolen from WFMU's Beware Of The Blog, where it was posted a few months back.

Don't let that seemingly happy and carefree countenance in the photo fool you, friends. Ray Price isn't a happy man, at least not if you judge him by the long string of essential honky-tonk records he made in the 1950s and 60s.

Sure, a ton of great country music comes from a place of emotional despondency, but I don't think anyone ever devoted more time, energy and talent to gloriously mournful tales of grief-stricken losers in the game of love. So regularly and convincingly has he visited this territory, in fact, that I feel confident in assuming that Ray would understand if I described him as looking at the world through morose-colored glasses. But it's not just the fact that he comes across as a guy who's not happy unless he's miserable that makes his best records so great, it's also the fact that they were unbelievably well-written songs, expertly played and produced, and simply catchy as all get out.

There were several key ingredients to what became known as the "Ray Price sound," usually just referred to as a shuffle these days. A walking 4/4 bass line, played in tandem by both an upright and an electric bass, is a necessity and so is a fiddle / steel guitar combo, which allows either instrument to serve as a sympathetic counterpoint to Price's voice throughout the song. Another big part of the sound is the high tenor harmony vocals that can be heard on each chorus and, of course, Ray's incredible voice which evokes haunted loneliness and pain better than any other voice I've ever heard. Throw in some drums and you've got the most important elements of the irresistible country shuffle sound.

If you're not familiar with sound of a Ray Price shuffle here's a superb example, Heart Over Mind, recorded in 1961.

Ray Price - Heart Over Mind

Price's 1956 recording of Crazy Arms was the first time this developing sound was fully realized on record and it was his first #1 hit, spending an incredible 45 weeks on Billboard's Country chart. No doubt this was a huge influence on his decision to move further and further in this direction in the years to come.

One of the instantly recognizable trademarks of so many of Price's classic shuffle beat songs is the 3 bold and ringing fiddle notes (duh-duh-duh) from the instrument of ace session man Tommy Jackson that kick off so many of them.

This point was driven home to me many years ago when I was over at my pal Derek's house while he was listening to his newly acquired prize possession, Bear Family's 10 disc box set of Ray Price material that covered pretty much everything he recorded up until Danny Boy (1966), which was a pivotal event in his decision to shift to a more pop-oriented sound that would bring him numerous hits over the next decade, including Help Me Make It Through The Night and For The Good Times. Derek mentioned how frequently this intro was used and to illustrate his point, he began jumping from track to track on one of the discs and I was dumbfounded by just how many of them started with the exciting duh-duh-duh fiddle notes. It should be noted here that many of Price's recordings from this era begin with a loping steel guitar rather than the fiddle sound to which I've become addicted.

Greatly impressed, I began to search a bit more diligently for Ray's LPs and 45s, gradually accumulating the ones I found essential to a happy life. I never got around to picking up the mammoth box set, but this weekend I did spend a ridiculous amount of time assembling a single lengthy MP3 that includes the first 3 or 4 seconds of several dozen songs that launch with this distinctive fiddle sound. You can follow along with the song list provided.

You can listen to this amazing display of artistic consistency at the link below:

Ray Price Intros

01. Crazy Arms
02. City Lights
03. Heartaches By The Number
04. Same Old Me
05. Pride
06. Wall Of Tears
07. One More Time
08. My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You
09. Kissing Your Picture (Is So Cold)
10. Go Away
11. Walk Me To The Door
12. All Right (I'll Sign The Papers)
13. Swingin' Doors
14. I've Still Got Room For One More Heartache
15. A Way To Free Myself From You
16. Imagination's A Wonderful Thing
17. Who Will Be The First
18. I Wish I Could Fall In Love Today
19. I'm Not Crazy Yet
20. Rose Colored Glasses
21. Whose Heart Are You Breaking Now
22. You Don't Love Me (But I'll Always Care)
23. Too Much Love Is Spoiling You
24. Too Late
25. I Don't Know Why I Keep Loving You
26. The Other Woman
27. You Don't Care What Happens To Me
28. Hang Your Head In Shame
29. Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me
30. San Antonio Rose
31. I've Just Destroyed The World
32. There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
33. Heart Over Mind
34. A Girl In The Night
35. If She Could See Me Now
36. I Want To Hear It From You
37. Touch My Heart
38. Take These Chains From My Heart
39. Please Talk To My Heart
40. Time Changes Everything
41. Take Back Your Old Love Letters
42. Take Me As I Am Or Let Me Go
43. My Confession
44. The Kind Of Love I Can't Forget

Every once in a great while, I'll run into someone who hears the definitive Ray Price shuffle beat and moans, "Man, all that stuff sounds the same" to which my reply is a genuine "I know...that's what I like about it, too!"

Monday, April 9, 2012

I'm Not Crazy Yet (MP3)

Ray Price - I'm Not Crazy Yet