"Can I Change My Mind" sees Billy Price maintaining the excellent form he showed on 1997's highly acclaimed "The Soul Collection." This time around Price cuts loose on a set of tunes, most of which were specially written by producer and keyboard player Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams. For the project Price was backed by a band of musicians selected by Williams, with a pedigree covering Barry White, Tower of Power, the Gap Band and Gladys Knight among others.
Right from the opening bars of the first track, "Crack Crack (When Are You Coming Back)," Price marks out his territory. This is intensely powerful soul music, that packs a punch. If this one does not grab your attention, nothing ever will. The rest of the album is far from formulaic, however, and Price and the band are equally at home with slower material too, such as the excellent ballad "What Is Love (And What Makes You Think You Deserve Some)."
The inspired production of Swamp Dogg seems to have brought out the best in Price. Although several different soul styles are tackled, the results are never less than interesting. Perhaps the prime example of the harmony between producer, singer and band is "This Magic Hour", which has a touch of Otis Redding about it. Price's vocals carry just the right amount of grit, and it is supplemented by some great work from the horn section.
The only old song here is the title track, which Price has been singing for 30 years. He originally recorded it with Roy Buchanan, although the version included here is more uptempo. It is followed by Price's play for the Harold Melvin fans on the penultimate "One In A Million." Things are then closed out in fine style by "Pass The Sugar," the obligatory tale about cheating in a relationship.
Billy Price is a great singer, and "Can I Change My Mind" shows him at his peak. Fans of real soul music are in for a real treat. It has all the ingredients you would expect on a classic soul album from the likes of Otis Redding, or O.V. Wright. It is also an album that more than hints at the link between soul and country music that has existed for many years--check out Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham for further recent evidence. If you have not done so already, it is time to start drawing up a list of essential purchases for the year 2000: "Can I Change My Mind" deserves to be right at the head of that list.
Billy Price: www.billyprice.com
This review is copyright © 2000 by Gordon Baxter , and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.