was born in 1955, the same year as rock and roll. As I've matured (at
least in age), so has the music, at least in terms of the number of categories--metal,
grunge, techno, classic rock, etc. etc. etc. One thing hasn't changed,
though--a great song is still a great song--and there are ten of them
on the new Billy Price disc, "Can I Change My Mind." Ever since he disbanded
the Keystone Rhythm Band in disgust over record company politics in 1990,
Price has done it his way--on "Danger Zone" (1993) Billy started paying
tribute to his musical heroes, including Percy Mayfield and Bobby "Blue"
Bland. On "The Soul Collection" (1997), Price added James Carr, Eddie
Hinton, Don Covay, Arthur Alexander, Syl Johnson and O.V. Wright to the
list of "second-line" (in other words, almost unknown) soul pioneers he
reveres. "Can I Change My Mind" takes a different approach--this time,
Billy recorded new songs with an unknown living legend--Jerry "Swamp Dogg"
Williams, who wrote eight of the ten selections and produced the project.
The good news? Billy has never sounded better. Track by track, this is
classic soul "adult music, the sound of people who have been taught painful
lessons but have absorbed the education fully" (from liner notes to "Danger
Zone", written by Geoffrey Himes of the Washington Post). From
the disc's opener, "Crack Crack (When Are You Coming Back)" through to
the superb "Pass The Sugar" (with the immortal lines "pass the sugar,
put it right here on my lips, I can taste the sugar, on your sweet, fine
cinnamon hips"), Billy Price creates a mood, a feeling that transforms
your emotions into his emotions--the sign of a singer true to the soul
within him. With his talent, I don't know why Price never made it nationally.
But maybe that is for the best, because he doesn't have to please anybody
but himself. (FYI: Billy's contemporary, Peter Wolf, ex-lead singer of
the J. Geils Band, released the superb album "Fool's Parade" as a tribute
to the soul singers he loves last spring to great critical acclaim but
mediocre sales--because of little record company support). "Can I Change
My Mind" stands as proof that being true to yourself and the sound you
want to create is the secret to soul success. ("Can I Change My Mind"
is available through Billy's website - www.billyprice.com - where you
can also download many Price rareties).