John Prine: In Person and On Stage (Oh Boy)

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John Prine: Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
John Prine: In Person and On Stage (Oh Boy)

The great John Prine falls somewhere between folk and country, but also has a rare downbeat sense of humour and his wry observations have always elevated his albums.

Here on a collection of live tracks -- essentially a greatest hits by a man who has rarely had a hit -- he has some grin-inducing anecdotes at times which are kinda downhome'n'aw-shucks country. But don't be fooled -- when he and his small band crack in with the menacing, electrifying Dylanesque Saddle in the Rain (something akin to Lee Clayton in its coiled tension) this album crackles with energy.

And his amusing story before Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore (written during the Vietnam war era) comes with a loaded point.

There's also a funny story about him being in the movies (well, just two, "I played the same character in both, I was the brother-in-law with low self-esteen, so if you are writing a script and yuou've got that character . . .") introduces with Iris DeMent on In Spite of Ourselves

There's an impressive guest list here: Iris DeMent again on the pointed Unwed Fathers, Josh Ritter on the allegorical and moving Mexican Home, Emmylou Harris on Angel From Montgomery, and Sara Watkins playing fiddle on The Late John Garfield Blues.

By mixing humour with serious matters (sometimes just a leavening line in a song) Prine has always given his catalogue a real human quality, you feel he is giving a lot of himself away and you'd want to share a back porch and fresh peaches with him.

Recommended, especially to those who have somehow missed his impressive, lowkey career. 

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