Thursday, September 8, 2016

SHG: Lloyd Price: "Personality"

Lloyd Price: “Personality”
Entered the chart on: 5/11/1959
Peaked on: 6/15/1959
Weeks at #2: 3
Song at #1: “The Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton

Lloyd Price, now there’s a name you don’t hear much anymore! I don’t know why, he was an R&B legend with singles going all the way back to 1952 and already one number one hit to his name by this point. And that was with a song about a man who goes around shooting people!

That song (“Stagger Lee”) and this were both arranged for Price’s own orchestra by ABC-Paramount’s Don Costa. And I guess this song must have left a mark on people, as Price was hereafter dubbed “Mr. Personality.” So let’s re-acquaint ourselves with this one:

Hmm...I sense a pattern forming with these 1959 rock releases. Someone like Price, who once had to starve in cheap digs, was now afforded high-budget production values the likes of which were lavished only on white-bread artists like Perry Como and Joni James. We’ve come a long way since “Blue Suede Shoes” in three short years. Rock & roll was now big business, so we have full-on productions with horns, choruses and slick sound. That’s Costa’s doing.

But all this would be worthless were it saddled with a second-rate performer performing a lackluster song. Fortunately, such is not the case here. I really like the lyrics to this one: apparently the protagonist’s friends are down on his lady love, but not him. Why? Because she has personality! What a refreshing sentiment! I had forgotten about the “over and over” hook, so it’s interesting that this song has two hooks, not just one.

I also love the way Price just belts this song. I mean, man, he really sells it. I hadn’t really listened to this song analytically before, but not only does he have a very strong voice, but a powerful vocal presence. That’s really something to be cherished.

Better than “The Battle of New Orleans” any day of the week.

Rating: 5

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