Monday, March 18, 2019

In the Name of Love: Charley Pride 85

Sorry this is late, but I was putting it up and decided to take another crack at figuring out the band on it. And succeeded, I think!
Today we celebrate a true icon and boundary-obliterating master of his art.
This guy is almost too much. He turns 85 years old today and I'd bet a pile of good American fiat currency he's playing live somewheres tonight.
*looks it up* Oh, my oh my he's in New Zealand, playing where else but the latest scene of insanity and carnage. Christchurch, New Zealand in five days, and then onto a full NZ tour.
He has a serious knack for this stuff, the healing properties of music. In the 1970s, at the height of the bloody Troubles in Northern Ireland, he went over there and cooled them all out. 
Legend tells us the Protestants and Catholics began their long road to ending the bloodshed at that concert, bonding over his song Crystal Chandeliers. That was the first thing both sides agreed on since the 19th Century, apparently.
If you can, try to see the PBS documentary on his career, an American Masters thing. It's airing all this month.
In it, you'll see Dolly Parton tell the hilarious story of how, when his first records came out and started becoming smashes, the audience didn't yet know he was Black because they didn't put his picture on the sleeves.
She describes the thousands of jaws hitting the floor that Nashville day, followed by a roar of total approval from the all-white crowd. This was in the mid 1960s, mind you. In the South.
It all began for him in the 1950s, when he was given his first guitar and started playing Country music, all whilst simultaneously pursuing a career in semi-pro baseball.
As the Fifties became the Sixties, he started recording and began making inroads on the Country charts. He almost became an original Met when the National League expanded in 1962, but by then his pitching arm had kind of given up the ghost.
Devoting himself full time to singing, he eventually cracked the higher echelons of the charts and became, in 1967, the first Black performer to play the Grand Ole Opry since the early 1940s.
He's never stopped since. In fact, you could make the valid claim that Charley Pride is the greatest living old-school Country singer left. Maybe the aforementioned Dolly Parton would dispute such a claim, but they are lifelong friends, so there's room for both in the firmament.
There's almost zero archival shows around of him for whatever reason, but there is this: a grey-area piece that's been on about 30 different unauthorized issues for which he's never received a dime in compensation.
It's usually to be found, fittingly somehow, in truckstops and drugstores in the two-dollar CD rack. There's also a DVD of it, as it was filmed, but the CDs have a way higher quality soundtrack, with no compression applied. 
Someone was kind enough to send me some FLACs of it last night, so I've been at remastering it since then, and as I said at the top figuring out the wheres, the whens and the whos of its origins.
Charley Pride
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada
2.21.1976

01 Kaw-Liga
02 Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'
03 Oklahoma Morning
04 It's Gonna Take a Little Bit Longer
05 Crystal Chandeliers
06 Medley: Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger/Too Good to Be True/I'd Rather Love You/All I Have to Offer You Is Me/
Wonder Could I Live There Anymore/Is Anybody Going to San Antone/I'm Just Me
07 Shutters and Boards
08 Happiness of Having You
09 My Eyes Can Only See As Far As You
10 I'm So Afraid of Losing You Again
11 Let Me Live In the Light of His Love
12 Mississippi Cotton-Picking Delta Town
13 Help Me Make It Through the Night
14 Louisiana Man
15 There Goes My Everything
16 Lovesick Blues
17 Me & Bobby McGee

Total time: 48:49

Charley Pride - vocals
Gene O'Neal - pedal steel guitar

other musicians unidentified, probably:
Glenn Kenner - guitar
Preston Buchanan - bass
Rudy Grass - drums
Randy Reinhard - piano
Dave & Sugar - vocals
with The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Barnum

soundboard sourced capture, taken from the grey-area CD release "Greatest Hits Live" (no label given)
slightly remastered, retracked and venue/date/personnel info annotated by EN, March 2019
280 MB FLAC here
I shall return at week's end with more obscurities and whatnot, but today we are all about bowing in homage to one of the true pioneers, born this day in 1934 and still bringing the business at an age where most musicians are either underground or under doctor's orders to refrain from touring. Long may he Pride!--J.