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GREATEST HITS ALBUM REVIEW
Released - in 1976 on Atlantic Records. Produced by
except tracks 2 & 11, Produced by Steve Cropper
All songs written by John Prine
This "best of" album came out early in John Prine's career, after he released his first four albums in a five year period. None of those first four albums really sold too well, which was kind of sad, since he was really a very good singer-songwriter with a message. But what shows up on this album really is Prine's prime cuts, plus it turned out a good idea to release this LP, as it became his biggest selling album - going gold, and opened the door to him to many future fans.
The album opens with his most famous song, "Sam Stone", which came off of his first album, John Prine, and is perhaps one of the greatest protest songs ever recorded. The first real war song to deal with the plight of the Viet Nam Veterans and the fact that nobody seem to care about them, and how some of them ended up. In the opening lyrics we are reminded of the fact that the corrupt Johnson and Nixon US administrations refused to even call the war in Viet Nam what it was - a damn war, as they instead insisted that it was just a "conflict over seas". But this gem of a tune wasn't just a protest song, it was also tagged a drug song, well yes, it was, but really more an anti-drug song, with some of the best lyrics at the time to be written about heroin abuse and where it would get you and yours: "there's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes". This powerful song alone should had been enough to make most want to know a bit more about the man who wrote it. But sadly, the song never did get much of any air play, so many didn't even know of it.
There are many other wonderful songs from John Prine found on here. "Illegal Smile" is yet another drug song that doesn't mention any drugs in its lyrics at all, only asks the age old question as to why do we enforce laws where victimless crimes apply: "Will you please tell the man, I didn't kill anyone, I'm just trying to have me some fun". On a lighter note, Prine has some fun on a few on these songs too, with of all subjects - dying, and what will happen to one's body afterwards in "Please Don't Bury Me"; plus a song he recorded live, "Dead Abby", written about the newspaper advice columnist and the silly things people would write her about.
"The Great Compromise" is another great tune, about the kind of lover nobody ever wants to have, and "Grandpa Was a Carpenter" is a heart warming country-rock song about growing up with one's grandparents.
Since the release of this wonderful album in 1976, a newer anthology of his material came out in '93 - Great Days, and that contains some of his latter day songs, but if you want the earliest prime Prine songs, this album fills that need just fine.
- Keno 2005
To listen to some soundclips from PRIME PRINE or to purchase it click on: Prime Prine: The Best of John Prine
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