My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Charley Pride – ‘The Sensational Charley Pride’

Produced by Jack Clement with Felton Jarvis (best known for his work with Elvis Presley), The Sensational Charley Pride was released in May 1969. The record is in the same style which fans had come to expect from Charley – solid country with a restrained version of the Nashville Sound.

It produced only one single, the #4 ‘Let The Chips Fall’. Written by Clement, it is a dramatic, slightly ponderous, ballad about a suspicious husband prepared to fond out the worst. It is not among my favorite Charley Pride hits, but Pride’s vocal is excellent. Another Clement tune, ‘She’s Still Got A Hold On You, is a nice song about not getting over an old love.

A song that perhaps should have been a single (and was by Mickey Gilley), ‘(It’s Just A Matter Of) Making Up My Mind’, is my personal favorite song on the album. A slow ballad about coping with a breakup, it is one of two Foster & Rice songs on the set. The other, ‘Even After Everything She’s Done’, serves as a kid of sequel to the former, and is also pretty good. Here the protagonist realises the day after a tumultuous goodbye that love endures despite all the angst:

I said I could despise her by the dawn of another day
But there’s the sun and I don’t hate her
Even after everything she’s done

I tried to make myself believe that I’m much better off
I’ve told myself she’s nothing special
And still I find that she’s the only one

‘Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy’ is an enjoyable midpaced song, addressed to an ex whose new romance has faltered, with Charley once more playing the protagonist we met in ‘I Know One’, but sounding a little less rueful:

You’re like a child who’s found a brand new plaything
Each one is more fun than those before
But there’s a faithful one who’s always waiting
To be picked up and kicked around some more

It was also recorded by several the artists including Waylon Jennings, Faron Young and Bobby Bare.

Charley goes playfully Cajun for a pair of songs – a cheery cover of the classic ‘Louisiana Man’, and the less well remembered Jim Reeves hit ‘Billy Bayou’ (a Roger Miller penned tune). Both recordings are great fun, with Charley tackling them them with the same joie de vivre he showed in his live take on the Hank Williams song ‘Kaw Liga’, not included on this album but a #3 hit for him in 1969.

There are three songs written by Alex Zanetis, all quite good. ‘Never More Than I’ is a ballad with an attractive melody, comparing the poor man’s love to his richer rival. The steel-dominated ‘Let Me Live Again’ pleads a former love to take him back. In ‘Take Care Of The Little Things’ he regrets neglecting home and wife, versed as a message to the man who has taken his place.

The similarly titled ‘It’s The Little Things’ is a tender love song, paying tribute to a wife’s care. Lots of steel guitar ornaments the song beautifully. The album closes with ‘We Had All the Good Things Going’, a wistful look back at love. This song was a minor hit for Jan Howard in 1969, and also recorded by Dolly Parton.

This album is another strong offering from Charley Pride, and well worth finding. It is available individually or on a bargain 4-on-1 CD and has been certified gold.

Grade: A-

4 responses to “Album Review: Charley Pride – ‘The Sensational Charley Pride’

  1. Paul W Dennis July 17, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Bob Luman had the hit on “Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy”. According to Record World the song reached #13 whereas Billboard had it at #24. I suspect Luman’s popularity was regional because it received a lot of airplay as an oldie in Central Florida throughout the 1970s, and WCMS in Norfolk played the song frequently during the summer of 1972 (I spent the summer with my folks)

  2. Ken July 20, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Charley’s seventh album arrived in the spring of 1969 with another dozen great songs. It was released after his hit “Kaw-Liga” (taken from his “Charley Pride-In Person” live album) and just before the subsequent single “All I Have To Offer You (Is Me) “

    The single hit on this LP, “Let The Chips Fall” has the distinction of being released on two Charley Pride albums within the same year. It is the oldest recording on this album. It was the final song recorded during sessions for the album “Songs Of Pride – Charley That Is” in April 1968. Issued as the follow-up single to “The Easy Part’s Over” in September ’68, the record peaked at #4 in November but was not immediately available on a Charley Pride album. Because Charley’s subsequent LP was a live album the track was held for this album. Then five months later it was included on “The Best Of Charley Pride” that featured all of Charley’s previous singles including his first #1 hit “All I Have To Offer You (Is Me).”

    I love albums that are sequenced with a strong opening track. My view is that it‘s like a concert with the first song setting the stage for what follows. The choice was note perfect with Doug Kershaw’s Cajun classic “Louisiana Man” leading the way. Most arrangements of this song feature a Cajun-style fiddle but instead Lloyd Green created an innovative steel guitar arrangement that was embellished by Pig Robbins’ cool piano fills. This is one of the best versions that I’ve ever heard.

    The other remakes are all great listening too. “It’s The Little Things” was a #1 hit for Sonny James in 1967 and Charley does an excellent version. “Billly Bayou” written by Roger Miller was a #1 hit for Jim Reeves in 1959. Charley’s rendition emulates the arrangement of Jim’s original including the lead guitar riff and rolling piano. “Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy” is one of those songs that SHOULD have been a big hit. As Paul mentioned Bob Luman’s version was on the charts at the time that this LP was released. Waylon Jennings & Bobby Bare’s duet was titled “Sing The Blues To Daddy” and was issued on Waylon’s “Just To Satisfy You” album released two months earlier. Charley’s performance is similar to Luman’s treatment and also very well done.

    “She’s Still Got A Hold On You” was definitely a missed opportunity for a single release. The Jack Clement song is a standout track. “Take Care Of The Little Things” is another single-worthy tune that remains a favorite.

    One of the unfortunately circumstances of the recording business is that sometimes due to space limitations great tracks must be overlooked. Albums are recorded over a period of months and when it’s time to select the final line-up they often have more songs than they can release. One of the songs recorded during sessions for this LP was left in the vault where it remained for almost 30 years. Finally in 1997 it was exhumed for the “Essential Charley Pride CD.” Charley’s recording of the Hank Locklin classic “Please Help Me I’m Falling” is another excellent performance and would have been a great choice for a bonus track on the CD release of this album had they included any.

    The “Sensational Charley Pride” album was certified Gold in 1973.
    Charley’s career was kicking into high gear as he delivered another A+ album.

    • Occasional Hope July 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      That’s a very nice version of Please Help me I’m Falling.

      • Ken July 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        Found one more too good to not share.
        In the fall of 1969 ABC-TV premiered “The Music Scene.” The show featured musical performances and some comedy and had the unusual duration of 45 minutes -it aired adjacent to another 45 minute show to fill the network’s 7:30-9pmET time slot.
        It only lasted 17 episodes. Though the show primarily featured pop music many episodes included country stars. Guests included Buck Owens (who appeared on the premier episode) , Roger Miller, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Charley Pride who sang ‘Louisiana Man” from his Sensational Charley Pride album on the December 8, 1969 program.

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