Billy Price Heads to Greaseland for Soul-Filled ‘Reckoning’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Billy Price has emerged from a regional star in Pittsburgh to an international blues star. It’s about time. Few, if any singers today, can bring the combination of passion and vocal range that Price does on his soul-blues tunes. Although he is mostly a high tenor, he can bring the falsetto too. Propelled by his two previous releases, the BMA winning This Time for Real (with Otis Clay) and 2017’s Alive and Strange, Price changed it up again by heading west to the Bay Area and the vaunted Greaseland Studio of Kid Andersen in San Jose, CA. As per usual, Andersen gathered a group of first-class area musicians and singers to back Price.

Andersen plays a variety of instruments on four tracks but drummer Alex Pettersen, both of Rick Estrin & the Nightcats as well as keyboardist Jim Pugh (Robert Cray) and legendary bassist Jerry Jemmott (B.B. King, Gregg Allman) played on all tracks. Also appearing are sax player Johnny Bones of the California Honeydrops, area legend Rusty Zinn on background vocals, and Little Village Foundation gospel recording artists the Sons of the Soul Revivers. Andersen’s wife, Lisa, sings background vocals on eight tunes. All told, nineteen musicians/singers are listed in the credits. The ultra-talented Andersen did the horn arrangements.

The songs are a mix written by Price and/or Jim Britton of the Billy Price Band, French guitarist Fred Chapellier (with whom Price has worked on a few albums), along with songs previously recorded by iconic soul singers like Bobby Bland, Otis Redding, Johnny Rawls, Swamp Dogg, and even J.J. Cale.

For his sixteenth recording Price teamed with guitarist/producer Kid Andersen and recorded at Andersen’s Greaseland Studio in San Jose, California. Anderson and drummer Alex Pettersen are both members of Rick Estrin and The Nighcats, recently voted The Band of The Year at the 2018 Blues Music Awards. Andersen assembled the remaining cast of musicians including legendary bassist Jerry Jemmott who has worked with King Curtis, Aretha Franklin and Gregg Allman; Jim Pugh former keyboard player with Robert Cray; and the horn section of Johnny Bones (saxophones) and Konstantins Jemeljanovs, (trumpet). The fantastic horn arrangements are by Andersen.

Among the highlights are the infectious groove of the title track followed by the unrelenting pulse of Cale’s tune, “No Time;” into the ballad that was covered by Otis Redding “I Love You More Than Words Can Say.” Others included the co-write with Chapellier, “Never Be Fooled Again” featuring Pugh on piano, and “Expert Witness” with special guest Nancy Wright providing the tenor sax solo, as Jemmott weaves his signature bass lines. “Dreamer” was recorded by Bobby “Blue” Bland, “Love Ballad” was recorded by George Benson, and the funky “Synthetic World” was written and recorded by Swamp Dogg. “Get Your Lie Straight” was written by the late Denise LaSalle and “I Keep Holding On” is from Johnny Rawls, a singer that Price has begun to collaborate within live shows.

Given that litany, it’s fair to say that Price knows his soul music and is doing his best to keep it alive. If you didn’t realize that Price is one of our finest soul blues vocalists, you need to hear this album. Once you do, you’ll surely get more of Price. And, certainly, go out and hear him live. He can literally take your breath away.

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