REVIEWS OF JOHN PRINE CONCERTS & ALBUMS 2005
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Kiva Auditorium, Albuquerque, NM
July 29, 2005
By: Steve Terrell - The New Mexican
full article at: http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/14428.html
Terrell's Tune-Up, 06/03/2005 - Good work, Gov .
The New Mexican - June 3, 2005 .
Here's one of those strange incidences where my main job as a political writer creeps into my "fun" job as music columnist..
The first time I heard the new John Prine album Fair & Square, a line from the first song leaped out of my car stereo and smacked me in the face. "I got some friends in Albuquerque, where the governor calls me 'Gov.'" Dang, I thought. This is better than six appearances on Larry King Live..
First chance I got, I asked Gov. Bill Richardson's spokesman, Billy Sparks, whether his boss knows Prine and, if so, does the governor call Prine "Gov"? Sparks said he doesn't think the two "govs" are friends. And for the record, unlike fellow musicians Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, and Andy Williams, Prine isn't listed among Richardson's campaign contributors..
One pal suggested that the governor Prine sings about might be former Gov. Gary Johnson. The key to this theory lies in Prine's old song "Illegal Smile." (I think my friend was smiling that way when he brought this up.).
But notwithstanding that political wild-goose chase, I love this album. Backed by a small, mostly acoustic group (with a smattering of guest harmonies by Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, and Mindy Smith), Prine shows there's still gold in those classic three-or-four-chord melody structures he does so well..
Fair & Square is Prine's first album of new material since 1999's In Spite of Ourselves, a collection of duets with a bevy of female singing partners, and his first album of primarily original new material since 1995's Lost Dogs & Mixed Blessings. During this last decade, Prine has struggled with throat cancer. His voice has dropped an octave or so, but that always was a scratchy instrument. The important thing is that he didn't lose his sense of humor or his sense of poignancy..
There are some classic Prine tales here. One of the best is "Crazy as a Loon," about an ambitious young man with "a picture of another man's wife tattooed on my arm" who heads off to Hollywood "just to have my feelings hurt." From "the wrong end of a broom" in Tinsel Town, the hapless protagonist ventures to Nashville and New York with the same result..
In "Other Side of Town," a live cut, Prine sings of a henpecked husband whose mind wanders, during his wife's nagging, to a fantasy bar on the astral plane. On the slow but sturdy "Some Humans Ain't Human," Prine rails against unfeeling people: "You open up their hearts/And here's what you'll find/A few frozen pizzas/Some ice cubes with hair/A broken Popsicle/You don't want to go there.".
But later in the song, he gets political: "You're feeling your freedom/And the world's off your back/Some cowboy from Texas/Starts his own war in Iraq." It's obvious that Prine still believes that a flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore..
Prine's songwriting is the main draw on Fair & Square. (He collaborates on some tunes with partners including Keith Sykes and "Funky" Donnie Fritts.) But he also includes a couple of excellent covers. "Clay Pigeons" is a sad song by the late Texas sultan of sad songs Blaze Foley. And the most rocking track on the album is "Bear Creek," a Carter Family song.
Concert alert: According to his Web site, Gov. Prine is coming to the Kiva auditorium in Albuquerque on July 29..
Hear a whole lotta John Prine: Tonight, June 3, on the Santa Fe Opry, KSFR-FM 90.7 Santa Fe Public Radio. Show starts at 10 p.m.; the Prine segment starts about 11 p.m.
Yeah Little Buddy gonna get your chance, make the pubescents all wet their pants!"