Alan Price

Anthology [Repertoire 2002]

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From the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, Alan Price enjoyed a remarkable run in Britain, first with the Animals, then as a solo act. While the Animals' hits aren't included here (and neither is his work with Georgie Fame), there's still a very solid selection of material here. Interesting, though, until 1967 the sound quality is fuzzy, at best, on the R&B tunes, including his take on "I Put a Spell on You" -- curiously restrained compared to both the original and Arthur Brown's version. It's with Randy Newman's "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear" that there's audio clarity; Price's biggest hit, it stands the test of time well with its jauntiness, as does a cover of Sonny Rollins' "Don't Stop the Carnival" (another big hit). His own material, however, isn't as good, running throughout to a mixture of music hall and MOR rock. Sometimes that's harnessed to good effect, as on the sublime "Jarrow Song" or "Oh Lucky Man" -- probably the peak of his songwriting -- when he tapped into a particular Northeastern vein (which, oddly, doesn't work on the traditional "Trimdon Grange Explosion"). Get further into the '70s, and the songs become eminently forgettable, culminating in a remake of "The House of the Rising Sun" that must have left Eric Burdon laughing. Price had his moments, but as this shows clearly, they were fewer and farther between than memory recalls.

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