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Record Review

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Something about Ray Price's voice takes listeners to a different place. Smooth as silk, he personifies the classic "countrypolitan sound" from an era when Nashville moved away from hillbilly music to a more contemporary "middle of the road" style -- lush strings, heavy-handed chorus singers and, sometimes, cheesy material. But there's another side to Ray Price, the guy who emerged from Texas in the late '40s and was key (along with Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb) in the promotion of western swing and honky-tonk country. Now 77, Price has released an album that captures the best of both eras, and he hasn't lost a lick of quality.

Time reunites Price with some of the finest studio musicians from Nashville's past, collectively known as the "A Team." Including such legends as Harold Bradley (whose recent work with Mandy Barnett is amazing), pedal steel player Buddy Emmons and guitarist Pete Wade, the A Team and producer Fred Foster give Price a finely structured musical bed upon which his still-perfect voice fits with ease. The blend of honky-tonk and cosmo-country works well, with great songs by Cindy Walker, Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran and Price himself.

The new generation of country stars should do themselves a favor and listen to the Ray Price method. He never shouts or strains, and after about 60 years of singing, he sounds as good as ever. Now that's impressive.

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