Billy Price has lots of help to keep him staying 'Strong'
The production of Billy Price's new album, “Strong,” took place in the halls of academia and suburban Pittsburgh, with an assist from the great state of Rhode Island.
“It was ridiculously complicated,” Price says with a laugh.
The end result is another superb effort, the constant being Price himself, his soul ministrations still peerless at the age of 63.
The release party for “Strong” is 9 p.m. June 21 at Club Cafe, South Side.
“Strong,” Price's first album in four years, grooves and purrs like a new sports car. How it got to that point is a primer for how modern recording technology can effectively be used to create music that sounds organic and of one piece, but is the result of many hands in different locales:
• A studio at Carnegie Mellon University's school of music. Eric DeFade, the sax player in Price's band, directs the jazz program at CMU, and enlisted a fellow professor in charge of the studio, Riccardo Schultz, for help. Schultz, in turn, gave students in the program the opportunity to work on the record.
“That's why there are so many (20) engineers, Price says with a laugh. “Anybody who touched the controls got a credit.”
• Electric Tommyland Studio in Fox Chapel. The studio is run by Tom Walsh, a kidney surgeon, with an assist from Jack Gauthier, a Rhode Island resident who is Duke Robillard's manager and has mastered the guitarist's albums for the Blue Note label. Walsh and Gauthier recorded the horn section and engineered and mixed the recording at Electric Tommyland.
“At this point, I don't know whether I'll ever do anything without those guys because they are so great,” Price says. “I think the sound on this is tremendous.”
• The Belle Vernon home of Price's keyboard player, Jimmy Britton. It was here that the keyboard and guitar tracks (by Steve DeLach) were finished.
With so many moveable parts, how did the album end up sounding like it was recorded in one room?
“It's like a big software project,” says Price, who began working on “Strong” late last year. “If you have the basic bass and drums, you can build everything on top of that.”
The best production teams in the world fail if an album's song are substandard. As is his habit, Price starts off with a killer track, Roosevelt Sykes' “Drivin' Wheel” — the Al Green version, according to the singer.
“I like the first song to set the stage for everything else that follows,” Price says.
“Strong” also includes the Clay Hammond tune “Part Time Love,” which was covered by B.B. King, Isaac Hayes, Otis Rush and Johnnie Taylor, and two songs Price wrote with Fred Chappellier, the French guitarist who collaborated with Price on the album “Nightwork.”
But the bulk of the material was written by Britton and Price.
“Jimmy's incredibly prolific,” Price says. “He sent me 50 tracks, and I could write songs just from those tracks ... for the rest of my life.”
Tying everything together is Price, whose vocals on “Strong” evoke memories of the late 1970s and early '80s, when he was backed by the Keystone Rhythm Band. Those vocals proved to be far simpler to pull together than the rest of the album.
“I really did everything basically in one take on one night,” says Price, noting he was having voice problems at the time. “One night, I had a pretty good voice at Tom's (Walsh) place, and I said, let's just do it. I did very little overdubbing. So, basically, what you have is one night's performance.”
Rege Behe is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh native Burdell sticks to passion — bringing drumming to all
- ‘Boyz of Zummer’ Wiz Khalifa, Fall-Out Boy light it up at First Niagara
- Tickets on sale July 10 for Lady Antebellum at First Niagara
- Fall Out Boy, Wiz Khalifa combine genres
- Barbershoppers bring harmony to Pittsburgh
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra dishes up satisfying season-ender
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s new concert series blends classical, pop music
- Douglas’ ‘High Risk’ is high-reward look at jazz
- Two conductors to join Pittsburgh Symphony