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  Listen Up! 1/13/04 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Jan. 13

Ray Price, “Time,” Audium Records. I’m a latecomer to the brilliance of Price. Seriously, I can’t remember thinking about the guy at all until a couple weeks ago, when I heard the two duet albums he’s done with Willie Nelson (one from 20 plus years ago, one from a few months back). I love this guy. He’s such a straightforward, strong vocalist, just delivering these classic Nashville tales of love’s misery and heartache. This album comes from 2002, and it featured him reunited with all the surviving musicians who backed him back in the 60s, when he was a big hit-maker in country music. Great songs, great singing, great playing.

Various Artists, “The Queens of Gospel,” Fuel 2000 Records. There is a lot of testifyin’ going on in this compilation. The music is drawn from several decades worth of sources, with such classic singers as Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Aretha Franklin finding room in the pews next to more modern vocalists as Inez Andrews and Yolanda Adams. I’m of the opinion that there hasn’t been a truly great gospel record in at least 20 years. The last one I loved was the sublime “Jesus Dropped the Charges” from St. Louis’s own O’Neal Twins. So, I could live without the modern stuff, though it’s at least trying to be in the tradition. It’s your call if a couple of stunning vocals from the older artists are worth picking up a compilation that never sinks down below a listenable level. But, remember, you can get lots of other cuts from Mahalia on her own CDs.

--Steve Pick


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