True or false: To boil down the entire solo career of composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Alan Price into a single disc would seem to be so gargantuan a task as to be impossible. False. The folks at Castle/Sanctuary have accomplished the seemingly impossible. I Put a Spell on You is an amazing and comprehensive collection of Price's underappreciated but nonetheless legendary career. It begins with the title track, a single issued in 1966 and modeled after his arrangement of the Animals' (his former band) version of "House of the Rising Sun" (a solo Price cover of the track from 1980 is also here). But though it starts there, it goes farther back -- to his amazingly soulful, Sam Cooke-inspired read of "Any Day Now" and "What Am I Living For" from 1965. All of the remaining years of the '60s are covered in glorious soulfully R&B-infused pop tunes: "Don't Stop the Carnival," "Getting Mighty Crowded," "The House That Jack Built," "Just Once in My Life," "Tickle Me," "Hi Lili Hi-Lo," "Mercy, Mercy," "Loving You Is Sweeter," and a medley of "Barefootin'," "Land of 1,000 Dances," and "Let's Go Baby." From the 1970s there's just "Jarrow Song," from the brilliant Between Today and Yesterday album that was his breakthrough, and a slew of live tracks from 1980, including amazing renditions of "Sea Cruise," "Keep A-Knockin'," "True Love Ways," and "Oh Lonesome Me," before the set closes with some cuts from the 1990s, most notably a smoking live version of "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu" with Zoot Money. What this proves is nothing on its own, but in listening it becomes obvious how much British talent contributed to Americans actually being able to hear songs of their own culture, as well as the fact that Price was no mere revival boy; he completely re-conceived many of these tunes and wrote unique arrangements for them. Price never used artifice or studio trickery to make a song fall down the pipe; he used raw, unmitigated passion and stellar musicianship. This collection is as necessary to any 1960s library as a collection by the Animals.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek
feat: Zoot Money