Texan country singer Ray Price got the best possible start by having Hank Williams himself for a mentor. After Williams's death, Price began using Hank's Drifting Cowboys as a backup band and performing in a remarkably similar style. After putting together a new band to find his own sound, he essentially invented the 4/4 country shuffle, replacing the traditional country 2/4 beat. This combination of honky-tonk and Western Swing both influenced a whole school of country and helped pave the way for rockabilly. Besides his voluminous body of solo work, Price was also known for his latter-day collaborations with Willie Nelson, whose "Night Life" had been an early-'60s Price hit.
DISC 1 for The Essential Ray Price, 1951-1962 (CD) Album
By Ray Price (Artist)
Before moving to the greener pastures of string-heavy countrypolitan, Price was a challenger for the honky-tonk crown. These 20 songs marvelously outline the rapid development of Price's emerging style. His 1951 debut, Lefty Frizzell's "If You're Ever Lonely Darling," finds Price emulating Frizzell's sweet delivery, while two ballads from the following year show Price firmly in Hank Williams territory. By 1953, his voice matured into a booming force, balancing the early sweetness with a hint of spice and a new vigor. The defining moment came in 1956 with the release of "Crazy Arms" and the unveiling of the Western swing-influenced "Ray Price Shuffle." From that point, Price would consistently feature this smooth and steady beat, even covering Bob Wills's "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You." --Marc Greilsamer
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