At a time when Nashville first discovered country music had the potential to cross over to the pop charts in the '50s, Ray Price was the man who held firm to the music's honky tonk roots and showed how sophisticated traditional hard country could be, while also demonstrating later in his career that he could cut polished countrypolitan material that was refined but still emotionally powerful. Playlist: The Very Best of Ray Price is a budget-priced collection that focuses on Price's best-known work for Columbia Records, and includes honky tonk classics like "Crazy Arms" and "Heartaches by the Number," as well as more pop-oriented numbers like "Make the World Go Away" and "For the Good Times," and two hits written by his good friend and occasional collaborator Willie Nelson, "Night Life" and "Funny How Time Slips Away." (Nelson also steps up for a duet with Price on a re-recording of "Faded Love.") The album is divided roughly equally between Price's hard country sides and his countrypolitan hits, and given that Price cut records for well over half a century, this sampler barely scratches the surface of his body of work. Despite this, Playlist: The Very Best of Ray Price certainly delivers many of his best-known songs with quality audio and an intelligent sequence, and fans who want to hear the hits (or folks interested in a brief introduction to one of country's great voices) will be well-served by this collection.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming