The Essential Ray Price

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Now 81, Ray Price has never stopped sounding wonderful, from his earliest recordings over a half-century ago to this year’s Last of the Breed, his album with pals Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. That’s why it’s a slight annoyance that Essential stops short in 1980, leaving incomplete one of country history’s more remarkable stories of undimmed vitality. That said, what is here is an embarrassment of riches—40 classics spanning thirty years, a period that saw the “Cherokee Cowboy” evolve from Texas honky-tonker to countrypolitan crooner without ever losing either his peerless voice or his immaculate taste.

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