Billy Price – 50+ Years of Soul | Album Review

Billy Price – 50+ Years of Soul

Get Hip Recordings

41 songs – 220 minutes

One of the absolute best vocalists in the world, honey-voiced Billy Price often flies under the radar when it comes to blues and soul. But the New Jersey native was already hitting the high notes in style for a decade before serving as the front man for guitarist Roy Buchanan in the early ‘80s and launching an award-winning solo career. And all of his talent is on display in this stellar three-CD set.

Forty-one tunes spanning three hours 40 minutes that are so tasty that you’ll be yearning for more, the material here spans a career that began in 1971 as a member of the Keystone Rhythm Band in Pittsburgh — his adopted home — and a solo career highlighted by soul-blues album-of-the-year honors for This Time for Real in 2016, on which his rich tenor played perfect counterpoint to Chicago superstar Otis Clay throughout.

Produced by Billy, the choice cuts here – many of which are his originals — have populated many of the 20 albums he recorded with Keystone, the Billy Price Band and more. And even with the time jumps in the material, the package reflects the consistent, must-listen talent that the singer has exhibited through every stage of his career.

Mark Wenner & the Nighthawks, French guitar great Fred Chapellier, Grammy-winning sax player Eric DeFade, Clay and both Duke Robillard and Kid Andersen — who independently produced some of the songs in the set – are just a few of the top talents who exist within these grooves. Remastered by Tom Walsh at Electric Tommyland studio in Erie, Pa., the package includes a 16-page booklet in which Price takes a deep dive into the backstory of his career.

Disc one opens in styles with a five-minute rendition of “I Know It’s Your Party (I Just Came Here to Dance).” And like Billy, you’ll be grabbing a partner and heading straight to the floor from the opening notes. A cover of Jr. Walker & the Allstars’ “Why Can’t We Be Lovers” keeps the mood going before the original deep-blue anthem, “Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown,” and before Price’s reading of Bobby Blue Bland’s burner, “This Time I’m Gone for Good,” his own.

The heat’s on for “When the Lights Came On,” which features Chapellier, before Billy dips into his Keystone era for “Absolute Love” and then puts an azure spin on “Nothing Stays the Same Forever,” a number by ‘70s Aussie glam-rockers Hush. Other choice cuts include “It Ain’t the Juke Joint Without the Blues,” “You’ve Got Bad Intentions” and an O.V. Wright medley that includes “The Jury of Love,” “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “BP’s Dream” and “Eight Men & Four Women.”

Disc two doesn’t miss a beat to open with “Real Time” before Price takes a turn at Al Green’s “Let’s Get Married” and truly makes it his own before turning back the clock with Keystone’s “Free” and hooking up with Chapellier again for the silky-smooth original, “Under the Influence.” Southern soul lovers will adore his rendition of Sam Mosley’s “Is It Over” before a teaming of Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love” with Clay’s “I Didn’t Know the Meaning of Pain.”

Updated versions of Jesse Belvin’s sexually charged 1953 pleaser, “When My Love Comes Tumbling Down,” and Ann Peebles’ “Tripped, Slipped and Fell in Love” follow. Other highlights include Price’s “Hard Hours” and a medley of Latimore’s “Somethin’ ‘Bout ‘Cha” and “That’s How It Is” with “Blind Man” before “39 Steps” — a tune composed by Billy’s keyboard player, Jim Britton – draws disc two to a close. The original, “Let’s Go for a Ride,” keeps the action in high gear to open disc three, yielding to “Beautiful Feeling,” which flows into a reworking of Z.Z. Hill’s “Part Time Love, Bettye LaVette’s “Your Turn to Cry” and a medley of Tyrone Davis’ “There Is Something on My Mind” and “Is It Something You’ve Got.”

A jaw-dropping duet with Otis on the Holland-Dozier-Holland pleaser, “Don’t Leave Me Starving for Your Love” follows before “I Can’t Lose the Blues,” “Mine All Mine,” “Who You Working For” and four more other bluesy, soul-drenched tunes bring the collection to a close.

A feast for your ears – and dancing pleasure, too, put this one high on your shopping list. It delivers on all counts!

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