THERE was a powerful energy radiating out of California from the late ‘60s through to the ‘70s.
It was in the surf and beach culture of Venice Beach that spawned The Doors, it was in Haight-Ashbury where the hippie Summer Of Love spread around the globe and in the singer-songwriter scene that melded folk, country and rock traditions.
Throughout their careers Australian musicians Rick Price and Jack Jones have continued to be enchanted by the magical music from the US west coast state.
Earlier this year they succumbed to their passions to record California Dreaming – a selection of covers from artists who recorded in The Golden State, including The Byrds, The Doors, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and The Eagles.
The record debuted at No.7 on the ARIA charts in September to launch a career renaissance for both Price and Jones.
Price, 56, spent years as a session bassist before breaking out with his platinum debut album Heaven Knows in 1992 with the hits Walk Away Renee and Not A Day Goes By.
During the same period Jones fronted the Australian soft-rock band, Southern Sons, who enjoyed ARIA top-10 hits with Heart In Danger, Hold Me In Your Arms and You Were There between 1990 and 1992.
Both have continued to record consistently since the ‘90s, but have failed to reach similar levels of commercial success.
Price understands much of the success of California Dreaming can been contributed to the material. More than 40 years on the music still resonates with a broad spectrum of young and old fans.
“I think it’s an energy thing,” Price says from his home in Nashville, where he’s lived since 2009.
“People gathered together to create a force of energy in a particular place and particular time, and it’s happened in other areas of life.
“I think it works that way. Those guys were the original singer-songwriters really in many ways.
“They developed this new style of music. Certainly it borrowed from country, rhythm and blues and basic rock, but they were really forming a new style of music.”
People gathered together to create a force of energy in a particular place and particular time, and it’s happened in other areas of life.Rick Price
Price produced the 12-track album in his home Nashville studio, with Jones travelling to Tennessee from his New York base.
The duo decided to remain faithful to the spirit of the original recordings.
“We stayed true to the original arrangements,” Price says. “Of course during the songs and performing them in duets it brings a different sound to the songs and a different feel.
“In places we added little things here and there. Little introductions, solos, outros and little vocal things that weren’t on the original recordings. That was just a little bit of our personal dressing.”
In many ways choosing which songs to cover proved the most challenging part.
Both Price and Jones have held life-long affection for James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Neil Young and The Eagles.
“It was very hard to whittle it down to 12 songs, but we had to,” he says. “We had a sample of 30 to 40 songs and we just picked our favourite artists from that era.
“We decided it’s going to be ‘60s and ‘70s out of California, in that Laurel Canyon area when they were writing music and recording and just whittle it down from there.”
Price and Jones became close friends in the ‘90s when they toured together for acoustic shows.
Having finally fulfilled a long-held ambition to record together, more albums are likely to follow.
“I think most definitely that we will [record more] because we have a great chemistry together and it’s enjoyable,” he says.
“Always when things are enjoyable and somewhat easy, you tend to want to revisit them.”
Rick Price and Jack Jones will perform songs from California Dreaming and their original material at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on May 27.