Entertainment Weekly - 1/24/92, p.58
"..a consumate balladeer [and] inventor of the "Ray Price beat"...proves the lasting influence of [Price].."
The compilers at Columbia Records have put together a fantastic best-of collection with THE ESSENTIAL RAY PRICE. Taken from the first 11 years of Price's recording career, it displays the Texas singer at his finest. By the mid-1960s, Price had radically altered his approach to music, adopting a countrypolitan ballad style of singing, and leaving behind his honky-tonk roots, including his nasal Hank Williams-influenced vocal style.
However, THE ESSENTIAL RAY PRICE presents the country legend in his exciting honky-tonk years, making the music that would later be embraced so widely by the "New Traditionalists" in the '80s. Using Hank Williams's famous back-up band, the Drifting Cowboys, Price excels on "The Road of No Return," "Talk to Your Heart," and others. On these 20 tracks, the influence of Williams is evident, but there are also signs of an innovative artist beginning to bloom. Programmed in chronological order, the collection reveals the changes in Price's singing style as the disc plays out. Towards the end of the compilation, particularly on "Heart over Mind" and "Pride," Price's voice deepens, losing much of its twang, but gaining a smoky maturity.