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Alan Price

By now Alan’s own style had changed radically and he was playing piano almost exclusively, having dropped the organ some months earlier. He told NME’s Keith Altham: “I hate all these electronic effects, perhaps that’s why I’ve taken to the piano again. I have an aversion to the concept of music being made by someone rolling a little ball down a chute, which hits a piece of wood, which rings a bell! Music to me is the communication of human emotions through the interpretation of the musician, and if you turn it over to the machines, then the feeling disappears.”

In regard to The House That Jack Built, Alan said: “It was really a question of ‘now or never.’ I was very tempted to record another one of those great Randy Newman compositions, but there is so much more satisfaction in creating something of your own...not to mention the royalties! The idea for the melody was in my head for a long while, but I couldn’t think of a lyric. I finally decided to make the lyric as ridiculous as possible. It’s really just nonsense poetry about all the daft things that people do.”

The Alan Price Set underwent its first personnel change in the spring of 1967, when Terry Childs replaced Clive Burrows on baritone sax. Around that time, Price made an attempt at drumming up media exposure for the rest of the band, but the truth was he was too strong a front man and this didn’t allow for much attention to be put on what continued to be his backing band.

The following year, the calypso-style revival of Sonny Rollins’ Don’t Stop The Carnival made it to No. 13. After a couple more singles, Price had once again succumbed to the stress of constant work, and decided he was tired of fronting a band. He hoped to strike out in a new direction as a solo artist, so he handed the reins of the Set over to Paul Williams, the guitarist who had been sharing vocal duties with him. As he told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle: “I think I’ve proved my point about the group...they’re one of the best there is. But someone else can take on the monster for a while.” Without Alan Price, however, they were lost and the band dissolved after just one single.

In December 1968, The Animals reunited for a one-off charity gig at the Newcastle City Hall. By now, Price cut a slightly odd figure in comparison to his former band members: Burdon and Valentine showed up wearing ponchos in the grand hippie style of the day; Chandler and Steel were dressed in jeans and casual shirts; while Alan chose to wear a suit...ever his own man, not prone to following the fleeting style of the times.

This summed up where Alan Price was at: sufficiently established and both confident and comfortable enough that he didn’t need to try and stay ‘hip.’ By now he had proven that his popularity and reputation was such that he didn’t have to be endlessly chasing hit singles. He was determined to make the kind of music that best expressed his varied interests and multi-talents, not what the Hit Parade might dictate as the fad of the day.

He moved to Decca’s Deram subsidiary for his first solo release, an engaging revival of an old Geordie song, Trimdon Grange Explosion, which gave an indication of the musical direction he would take in the early 70s. He returned to Decca for the self-penned Sunshine And Rain, completing his contractual obligations.

He then began a partnership with fellow-blues keyboardist and old chum, Georgie Fame, which gave birth to a hit single, Rosetta (which reached No. 11 in 1971), a highly-rated album (Price And Fame Together), their own television series (The Price Of Fame), and regular appearances on many others.

It was during one of the duo’s road tours that Malcolm MacDowell and Lindsay Anderson approached Alan about composing the music for the legendary cult film, O Lucky Man (in which he also appeared as himself). The phenomenal success of this project earned Price a BAFTA award, an Oscar nomination, and yielded his first US chart album.

From then on, any commercial successes that Alan enjoyed tended to be spun off of more generally ‘serious’ projects. Following his amicable split with Fame, he branched out into writing scores for musicals, collaborating with Lindsay Anderson on Home (prior to O Lucky Man), followed by his own The Brass Band Man.

In the early 70s, he had his own early evening TV show, A Price To Play, a connection which led to his involvement in writing television commercials and jingles, and composing the theme music for TV shows, such as Fame Is The Spur, World’s End, and The Further Adventures Of Lucky Jim.

By now his own recordings were becoming increasingly introspective, and his next major project was the largely autobiographical Between Today And Yesterday. Feted as his finest work, it gave Alan his first UK chart album, reaching No. 9. The album included the massive hit single, Jarrow Song, which reached No. 6 in 1974. It also spawned an in-depth TV documentary.

In 1975, his follow-up LP was entitled Metropolitan Man, and it included some stellar songwriting on Fools Gold, Nobody Can and The Drinker’s Curse. Taking a further leap into acting, he starred in the film Alfie Darling (released as Oh, Alfie in the US), winning the Most Promising New British Actor award. (Price also wrote the music for the film.) He documented some of his best solo work to date in a live concert, which was released as a double live LP, Performing Price, and as a television special.

That same year, a brief reunion of The Animals included a new album, Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, which made the Top 100 in the US. This journey back to the studio for the original group yielded a fine collection of solid performances, with the arrangements as tight and flawless (and enjoyable) as their earlier recordings. Encountering many of the same problems they had experienced in the 60s, the band members again soon went their separate ways.

Price moved to Jet Records in 1977 and recorded a series of successful albums throughout the rest of the decade, including Alan Price (1977) and England My England (1978). Two hit singles from the above LPs, Just For You and Baby Of Mine, respectively, did well on the UK singles charts. In 1980, he crossed the big pond to record an unusual album in Los Angeles: entitled Rising Sun, it included a reworking of the song The House Of The Rising Sun, which picked up quite a bit of air play in the UK. In 1981, he recorded a memorable live album, A Rock And Roll Night At The Royal Court, on his own label, Key Records. Other LPs from the 80s included Geordie Roots & Branches (1983) and Travelling Man (1986), which were both well-received.

During the 80s, Price had gotten back to composing musicals once again, writing and appearing in Andy Capp and Who’s A Lucky Boy? He also continued writing for movies with scores for Britannia Hospital and The Plague Dogs.

Price had a big hand in the organization of the third Animals reunion in 1983, which brought forth a world-wide tour and two albums, Ark and Rip It To Shreds: The Animals Greatest Hits Live, both of which made the US charts. Again, the group disbanded due to irreconcilable differences.

In 1989, Alan released Liberty, a new album of self-penned songs which focused on the state of the troubled world he saw around him. In the 90s, he teamed up with two old friends, Zoot Money and Bobby Tench to form Alan Price and the Electric Blues Company. The band toured extensively and recorded a fine album, A Gigster’s Life For Me, which was released in 1993.

On January 19, 1994, The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Alan Price made the flight to New York City with his fellow band members to receive the prestigious award.

The turn of the (new) century found Price still hard at work, performing his well-received show 'An Evening with Alan Price' around the UK. An excellent compilation and overview of his life work, entitled Geordie Boy, was issued on CD in 2001. And in 2002, he released a self-produced CD, Based On A True Story, which showcased a group of new songs as original, personal and emotionally touching as the ones he had written for O Lucky Man and Between Today And Yesterday almost 30 years earlier.

Now in his early sixties, Price continues to write, record, and perform regularly throughout Europe. Today he is readily acknowledged as one of the most talented and enduring musical artists to have emerged from the 1960s British Beat Boom.

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