Thursday, May 28, 2015

Make No Mistake, Price and Clay Put the Music World on Notice With “This Time For Real”

About every five years or so a Soul album comes out that is so good, so right, that you are scared your turntable’s stylus will melt down.  I think of Eddie Floyd’s, William Bell’s and Otis Reddings great records on Stax in the 1960s, Al Green and the Hi Rhythm sections records produced by Willie Mitchell in the 70’s, out on the West Coast it was  Charles Wright and the Watts  103rd Street Rhythm Band.  You can’t forget Tyrone Davis, ZZ Hill,  Syl Johnson or Mr. Bobby Bland down South. Back East you had Gene Chandler and Curtis Mayfield in fact sometimes it was hard to tell them apart.  Down in New Orleans there was Eddie Bo, Willie Tee, the Meters and later the Nevilles.  God I love sweet soul music.  I sure wish they still made music like that... 
Well my Christmas wish came early this year or more precisely on May 19, 2015 because that is the day that two of my favorite soul singers still fighting the good fight, Otis Clay and Billy Price joined forces and released their absolutely wonderful new album, “This Time for Real”.
I know coming from me, you’re thinking “For Real?”  No Really, it is that good.  From the opening strains of “Somebody Changing My Sweet Baby’s Mind” you are transported to that musical Loveland where songs like Davis’ “Can I change My Mind”” and Floyd’s “I Never Found A Girl” serve as sweet inspiration, all the way through to the albums last track, an inspired version of “You Got Me Hummin’” that finds Clay and Price channeling Sam and Dave so authentically it is downright spooky.  Along the way the former Hi Records stable mate to Al Green and the Hodges and Billy Price aka William Pollak of Roy Buchannan and the Keystone Rhythm Band fame prove.
Everything works on this disc, ably produced by Duke Robillard a man who knows just a little about working with great horn sections.  Robillard, a cofounder of Roomful of Blues,  tapped two of the current members of Roomful, Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Mark Earley on Saxes , to round out his current band of Mark Teixiera on drums, Brad Hallen on bass, Bruce Bears on keys and of course Duke handling all guitars.  Add the excellent backup vocals trio of Theresa Davis, Dianne Madison, Diana Simon and the result is a band that will have you doing double takes to the liner notes (for which I thank you Bill and Mark!).  
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Mr. Earley arranged all the horns on this record.  Just listen to the horns on tracks like "All Because of Your Love" and "Too Many Hands" and you will agree that the arrangements and execution are top notch.  Woolverton and Earley deserve a big share of the credit for giving this record its timeless, authentic feel and tone.
Besides the above mentioned tracks, highlights for me include something funky, Syl Johnson’s “Goin to the Shack” which is perfect pacing in follow up to the sugar rush from the opening track and the slow burn of "I'm Afraid of Losing You" which follows.  The previously mentioned “All Because of Your Love”  is so good I am without words …You get the picture.   For the romantically inclined listen how Clay and Price handle "Love Don't Love Nobody".  The two singers voices compliment each other very nicely and the phrasing throughout the album is impeccable.   For Americana and country fans there is a great version of Book of Memories complete with Bruce Bears' honky tonk piano and Duke adding some Nashville inspired licks on guitar.
I also just love the selection of Los Lobos “Tears of God” which brings to mind Ruthie Foster’s cd “Let it Burn” from a few years back.  Like "This Time For Real" Ruthie did an album of mostly covers for "Let It Burn" but the arrangements were so fresh and the performances so killer, you did not care.  Like Price and Clay she also covered a Los Lobos track, "This Time" and made it her own.
No detail was overlooked in this labor of love with beautiful art and design by MaryBianchi and Hyla Willis.  Add David Aschkenas very cool photography and the end result is a gorgeous product that must be owned in its tangible form.  

Let's hope that Clay, Price and Robillard as well as the the Roomful horn players can coordinate their schedules this summer and Fall  to do some live performances showcasing this material.  If you do get out to see Mr  Clay and/or Mr. Price buy the cd directly from them at their show or, if like me, you can’t wait, it can be purchased at

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