At 84, Kenner native and rock ’n’ roll pioneer Lloyd Price has released a new album. Hearing Price performing his This Is Rock and Roll songs, he’s clearly the same singer heard in his landmark 1952 rhythm-and-blues crossover hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.”
Price recorded This Is Rock and Roll at City Lights Studio in Farmingdale, New Jersey and The Cutting Room club in New York. He goes all out for the project. It’s a big production featuring extensive arrangements performed by dozens of musicians and background vocalists.
The material covers much ground, including a pair of Fats Domino songs. As every New Orleans R&B music fan knows, the recently departed Domino played piano for “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” Price gives “Blueberry Hill” a smooth and understated spin, speaking more than singing the lyrics. His rendition of “I’m Walkin’” swings alongside horn section-and piano-dressed big-band accompaniment.
For other songs, Price succeeds in sounding both modern and classic. Rock, soul and a big beat mix in the Price original, “I’m Getting Over You.” He moves to funk and soul for “Nobody Loves Anybody Anymore,” a topical song about a divided nation. “If we don’t get together, we can’t survive,” Price laments. “When will we stop acting so selfishly?”
Funk and social commentary blend again in “Our World.” A remake of Price’s 1969 R&B hit, “Bad Conditions,” it’s in a Curtis Mayfield-era Super Fly and early Sly and the Family Stone mold.
Price mostly fills the album with a well-chosen variety of songs, including his nicely delivered R&B ballad “The Smoke.” But his version of the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” plays overly faithful and his slowed-to-a-ballad-tempo interpretation of the Shirelles’ “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” belabors the point in a bland, synthesizer-heavy arrangement.
Despite some miscalculations, the ambition and work ethic Price shows in This Is Rock and Roll is more than commendable. The album reveals classic rock-and-roller Price as a still vibrant act.