Ray Price, Touch My Heart – Burning Memories

Kurt Wolff

By Kurt Wolff

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

During the '50s, country legend Ray Price developed his own brand of honky-tonk shuffle, inspired as much by Bob Wills as by his buddy Hank Williams. A decade later, though, Price's music began incorporating urban pop elements, marking him among the new breed of countrypolitan singers. His creamy, warbly voice adapted well to these lush melodies and arrangements, and songs such as "Make the World Go Away" and "Release Me" (cut well before the age of Engelbert Humperdinck) helped define that sound. This package of two important mid-'60s albums offers a superb portrait of Price exactly at this stylistic transition point. Burning Memories is a lush beauty filled with soaring strings, vocal choruses and Price's own warm vocals on tracks by Mel Tillis, Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran ("Make the World Go Away") and others. It was a bold step away from country traditionalism, but it wasn't that big a stretch from the moodiness of previous masterpiece Night Life. Touch My Heart is actually somewhat more pared down. Price's smooth vocals on songs like "There Goes My Everything," "Swinging Doors" and the title track (a Johnny Paycheck gem), however, show he was enamored with his new uptown approach. Together, these albums represent a fascinating slice of an artist &#8212 a whole industry, really &#8212 in the process of transition.