Q - 10/03, p.1303 stars out of 5
- "...There's no denying that lovely mulled voice..."
Includes liner notes by Don Ovens.
The career of Charley Pride is worthy of record collecting beyond the confines of a greatest-hits set, but a listener who went out shopping for this type of item alone might find himself buried by a variety of volumes, few of which have any duplication. The first of several chapters' worth of retrospective collections released by RCA, this is a fine example of Pride's performing style. Some of the trademarks are his superb voice, often enveloped by background singers as if he were trying to hide from the producer, dead-on accompaniment that basically sticks to the roots sound of country & western, and an emotional depth that makes the country artists of later decades sound like they are scribbling in the margins of greeting cards. The Pride live album In Person has long been considered one of his masterpieces, especially for fans of hot pedal steel playing. The radio hit "Kawliga" was originally on that record, and was wisely chosen as part of this collection, demonstrating not only Pride's flair for Hank Williams but his relaxed delivery. The casual feeling extends to the production, and it would be indeed hard to conceive of a country radio hit of today in which the singer would toss off a comment along the lines of "have a good time!" in the direction of the audience, right in the middle of a song. The Mel Tillis song "The Snakes Crawl at Night" is a cold-chills affair, and other great tracks include "Just Between Me and You" and "Gone, on the Other Hand." "The Day the World Stood Still" reveals the baritone side of Pride's vocalizing. Some nice production touches are evident courtesy of Jack Clement, who is also writer or co-writer of a good chunk of the tunes here. ~ Eugene Chadbourne