Live albums once carried commercial cachet they no longer enjoy. It doesn’t mean that such releases aren’t artistically viable, however. As a fan of live albums, I enjoyed The Price Brothers Band’s Live at the Yellow Cab Tavern immensely. The twelve song release presents us with a live appearance at the Dayton, Ohio venue complete with guest musicians to round out the sound. Songwriter Pete Price labored long and with great results on his most recent album Department of the Interior and the set forms the bulk of the track listing with one notable exception. It’s an audacious and satisfying reminder of the power live albums can convey and serves as an excellent companion piece to the aforementioned studio release.
The release opens with “Diamonds in the Sky”. Price’s best songs harbor underrated lyrical acumen that this song embodies even more than most. His singing brings the imagery laden words to even greater life than before and those specific details tumble out of him in a near rush. Lead guitarist Casey Davis stands out here, as he does during many other performances, but this is a full band effort that sets a tone for everything that follows.
John Lardinois’ violin playing adds incredible dynamics to “One More Time”. It’s a simmering yet rousing track that benefits, as well, from an extended musical introduction. It also has a real sense of stakes. This is one of the songs where Price sounds like a man singing with his back to the wall, testifying about his life travels, and emerging from the other side of it all stronger than ever before. “Old Movies and You” is one of the album’s more emotional moments and one of the best “lost love: songs I’ve heard in a long time. Price gives all of himself to this track, never skimping on the gravitas, but yet never sounding overwrought. It’s one of the album’s finest band performances, as well.
Lardinois shines again during the cinematic “The Crossing”. It conjures images, for me, of a classic western movie full of eyepopping vistas and heroic stands against time’s inevitable march. The accompanying musicians, particularly lead guitarist Casey Davis, burn bright as well during the performance. Another fine “relationship” song comes with the track “Foolish Heart”, but the mood is considerably more downcast than even the earlier “Old Movies and You”. Jeff Tutt’s keyboards are likewise essential to the final effect and duet well with one of Price’s best singing performances. It’s a song bursting with drama that the musicians and vocalists capture with vivid clarity.
The rambunctious “I Love Soul and I Love Rock” may be a bit too literal for some, but I loved it. Tenor saxophonist Hal Melia rips out a blazing sax solo that punctuates the track, but drummer Steve Phelps deserves mention as well for his superb timekeeping that keeps the song swinging from the start. The album closes with a memorable take on “The Letter”, an unqualified classic, and the mild changes Price and the band make to this venerable stalwart never render the track unrecognizable. It’s a satisfying reinvention of a song Price’s target audience knows well and puts an emphatic performance at the end to close out this winning release. Seek it out today; I doubt few, if any, will regret the purchase.