Holy hillbilly fiddlers, Batman! Ray Price left the honky tonk and hooked up with a string section! At least that's what country fans must have been thinking when they heard Ray Price's Burning Memories. Here, the only identifying country marker is the corny cowboy hat he's wearing on the cover. While it's easy to see why Price took so much guff from country diehards because this is a radical change from his Ernest Tubb-influenced honky tonk persona, it's still a badass country record, full of Floyd Cramer and Pig Robbins' pianos, Buddy Emmons' pedal steel, and Price's awesome baritone voice in its finest form ever. Begun in 1962, Burning Memories was the beginning of the Price transition from hillbilly singer to serious crossover smash. This is the album that boasts the stellar, timeless, and unforgettable "Make the World Go Away" by Hank Cochran and Eddie Miller's mind-blowing "Release Me," two Price signature tunes. In addition, there are amazing reads of Buck Owens' "Together Again," Conway Twitty's "Walk Me to the Door," and Willie Nelson's "Are You Sure," among others -- including Harlan Howard's fearsome nugget "You Took Her Off My Hands (Now Take Her Off My Mind)." Truth be told, Burning Memories holds no filler, which is astonishing for a country record from that era. Frank Jones' production is full of space and slippery genre blurs, and allows Price's ambition to soar without abandoning his strengths. Burning Memories, masterpiece that it is, is only available on CD as part of a two-fer series by Audium. The other record? The amazing follow-up, Touch My Heart.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek