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CHARLEY PRIDE —COUNTRY CLASSICS/ NIGHT GAMES/ POWER OF LOVE/ BACK TO THE COUNTRY (BGO Records)

 

www.bgo-records.com

 

Another quartet of albums on 2 CDs from Sledge, Mississippi-born RCA recording country legend, Charley Pride; there was a spell, maybe more than one when the former baseball player outsold Elvis Presley. Making him RCA’s top selling act. It was a fateful day when, Cowboy Jack Clement took it upon himself to prise open a door or two on Pride’s behalf. While Pride's recordings came at a time (1983-1986) when traditional country was not for the first time been given the elbow by the powers to be in Nashville all was not lost. 

 

Pride like Johnny Cash, Hank Snow and a few others his days with one of Music City’s major outlets was numbered, however not before he recorded excellent album Country Classics (5-star~) and solid recording Back To The Country. On the other hand on Night Games and Power Of Love the listener has to look for the good stuff. Unlike Country Classics where you are spoilt for choice!

 

But boy, when he does deliver an unabashed country song like with “Down In Louisiana” on Night Games it is most special. Produced by Norro Wilson there is a slick feel to the recording, and moments like the piece are few and far between. It could be argued “Lovin’ It Up (Livin’ It Down)” comes though without real conviction somewhere near it. Power Of Love has “Missin’ Mississippi” and rockin’ “Stagger Lee” to its credit, but the pull of either Country Classics or lesser brother, Blake Mevis produced, eight-track 1986 album Back To The Country isn't present. The release has the feel that the label, in part, had bowed to the fact Charley Pride was at his best performing real country, and wasn’t suited to the watered down fare that abounded at the time. He was made of better stuff, and more crucially Charley needed material that best suited him. Like the songs the aforementioned Clement used to bring him, some from his own pen.  

 

From the album (Back To The Country) you have him cover Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain”, and though welcome there was a time not too far gone and he would have nailed it (and not just covered it). It was time for Pride to move on, change labels, and get back to the basics. It wasn’t long it happened either because in a year after another 8-track record he was off and heading for greener country pastures.

 

Country Classics is loaded in delicious slices of fiddle (Buddy Spicher) and pedal steel guitar (Pete Drake, Sonny Garrish) plus lead guitar (Billy Sanford, Pete Wade), bass (Bob Moore, Michael Leech), piano (Hargus Pig Robbins) plus more Nashville session giants in Chip Young, Ray Edenton, Murrey Harman, David Briggs and Harold Bradley. Wilson’s tasteful production is likewise, first-class. Of the more recent creations Pride does Schweers’ songs “Radio Heroes” and the more pop country “Up To My Heart In Memories” full justice. On coupled with choice covers of old stalwart’s “Filipino Baby”, George Jones hit “Why Baby Why”, Webb Pierce ballad “More And More” plus Jimmie Rodgers’ jaunty (and much covered) “In The Jailhouse Now” and there’s others too - the recording, sounded better than I remember it.    

 

                                                          Maurice Hope 

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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