Personnel: Ray Price (guitar); Clay Allen, Lefty Perkins, Donny "Johnny Paycheck" Lytle, Art Bishop, Darrell McCall, Spider Wilson, Grady Martin, Hank Cochran, Jerry Kennedy, Jody Payne, Leon Rhodes, Pete Wade, Ray Edenton, Rusty Gabbard, Tommy Williams , Ray Sanders, Buddy Griffin (guitar); Chet Atkins, Samuel K. "Sammy" Pruett (electric guitar); Jack Evins, Don Helms, George McCoy, Jimmy Day, Paul Blunt, Pete Drake, Walter Haynes, Eddie Martin , Buddy Emmons (steel guitar); Marvin Montgomery (mandolin); Carroll Hubard, Jim Belkin, Georgia Slim Rutland, Dale Potter, Jerry Rivers, Johnny Gimble, Shorty Lavender, Tommy Jackson, Cecil Brower, Buddy Spicher (fiddle); Hi 'Highpockets' Busse (accordion); Fred Burkhalter, Floyd Cramer, Leon Russell, Marvin Hughes, Bill Pursell, Hargus "Pig" Robbins (piano); Blondie Calderon (keyboards); Joe Zinkan, Bob Moore (acoustic bass); Chris Ethridge, Floyd T. Lightnin' Chance, Red Kidwell, Don Poole, Howard Watts, Harold Bradley, Bee Spears, Buddy Killen, Bob Keller (bass guitar); Douglas Kirkham, Steve Bess, Bob Preston, Jan Kurtis, Paul English, Farris Coursey, Willie Ackerman, Buddy Harman (drums); Farrell Morris (percussion); Van Howard, Crystal Gayle (background vocals).
Additional personnel: Willie Nelson (vocals).
This double-CD best-of displays the Texas singer Ray Price at his early best. By the mid-1960s, Price had radically altered his approach, 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 country music's 1980s New Traditionalists. Backed by Hank Williams's Drifting Cowboys, Price excels on classics such as "The Road of No Return," "Heartaches By the Number," and "Talk to Your Heart." Though Williams's influence is evident throughout, cuts such as "The Same Old Me" show the beginnings of Price's unique, innovative style.