When discussions of great classic country voices and legacies come about, it's always names like Williams, Nelson, Cash and Jennings that get bandied about. And while there's good reason for those, one would be remiss to forget the influence of Charley Pride as well. A three-time Grammy winner with 29 number 1 hits under his belt, Pride's influence to the world of country music is oftentimes overlooked, but no less present. That influence hit heavy with longtime country star Neal McCoy, who cut his teeth opening for Pride during the early '80s and his reverence and respect for the man who he calls a second father resonates throughout this tribute project.
McCoy himself is well up to the task vocally, his solid voice taking on these classics with practiced ease while being joined by a few guest stars along the way.
Highlights here include the opener, "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone," which ripples with vibrant harmonica and honky tonk piano fills, McCoy's voice fitting the lyric like an old glove while the Darius Rucker guest spot on "Kiss An Angel Good Mornin'" is another high spot, the two blending solidly over the warm arrangement. The Hank Williams-penned "Kaw-Liga" shines here with its moody verse that morphs into a lighthearted, playful chorus as the gospel vibes of "Let Me Live" deliver a dose of southern soul.
"Why Baby Why" is a warm slice of classic country pie, filled with all the right ingredients like lovelorn lyrics and rich fiddle, as "You're So Good When You're Bad" recreates the hit perfectly, the song as strong today as ever. Trace Adkins' guest vocal on "Roll On Mississippi" is solid, if not overwhelming, while Raul Malo's work on "I'm Just Me" finds the vocalist's killer voice getting lost in the track. "Just Between You and Me" is another dose of succinct country, the sound hearkening back to a day gone by while "You're My Jamaica" should remind artists like Kenny Chesney and others of their rich roots.
McCoy is joined by a virtual who's who of session players, featuring artists like Paul Franklin (steel guitar, Dobro), Jimmie Lee Sloas (electric bass) and Eric Darken (percussion), among many others, all of which serve to recreate that classic Pride sound while investing some modern touches, allowing these songs to truly translate.
This is a record that was clearly faithfully and loving produced, recreating the songs of Pride with a heartfelt respect. And while these songs may not appeal to today's Top 40 radio listeners, they'll be the ones missing out because these tracks ooze pure country goodness.