Ray Price – Night Life (1963)

Night Life is the sixth album by country western singer and guitarist Ray Price, backed by his regular touring band, the Cherokee Cowboys. The album was released in 1963 on the Columbia Records label.

Night Life was Ray Price’s first LP to hit the charts. It was released in April, 1963, but Billboard didn’t start publishing a Country Album chart until January, 1964. At that time, it was still selling well enough to appear and in the chart’s second week, it was the number one album, the first of five to reach #1 during Price’s career.

Track Listing:

“Introduction and Theme / Night Life” (Walt Breeland, Paul Buskirk, Willie Nelson) – 2:05 / 4:41
“Lonely Street” (Carl Belew, Kenny Sowder, W.S. Stevenson) – 3:01
“The Wild Side of Life” (Arlie Carter, William Warren) – 2:59
“Sittin’ and Thinkin'” (Charlie Rich) – 2:47
“The Twenty-Fourth Hour” (Ray Price) – 2:53
“A Girl in the Night” (Hank Thompson) – 2:49
“Pride” (Wayne P. Walker, Irene Stanton) – 2:39
“There’s No Fool Like a Young Fool” (Bette Thomasson) – 2:58
“If She Could See Me Now” (Hank Cochran) – 2:42
“Bright Lights and Blonde Haired Women” (Eddie Kirkland) – 2:26
“Are You Sure” (Buddy Emmons, Willie Nelson) – 2:23
“Let Me Talk to You” (Don Stewart Davis, Danny Dill)- 3:05

Depending upon which lens of the historical perspective you view this through, this 12-song collection is the last gasp of true honky tonk, the first stab at mainstreaming it into the Nashville sound of the 1960s, or country music’s first concept album. In 1962, Ray Price was at the peak of his form as a honky tonker of major repute. His regular touring band, the Cherokee Cowboys, were the finest of their kind and Price’s voice was an instrument of wonder, full of reflection with every lyrical reading. As a traveling musician, Price knew well of the “night life” depicted in Willie Nelson’s title track, a life spent on the road full of hotels, bar rooms, one-night stands, heartache, and regrets. This album, full of well-written songs paying homage to that sinful life and its road to nowhere, evokes the sound, feel, and ambience of classic honky tonk music like few others do. As the decade wore on, Price would go on to major superstardom as a mellow balladeer, working with full string sections, reaching audiences that never heard this music or the other honky tonk classics that preceded it. More’s the pity, for this album just may be Price’s defining moment as an artist. — Cub Koda

Schill Score: 5.5/10

Listen to Album o