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Richard Pryor - Evolution Revolution The Early Years 1966-1974 2005

On: Friday, November 2, 2012

Richard Pryor
Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor
Peoria, Illinois, USA
Dec 01 1940 – Dec 10 2005 age 65

Richard Pryor was seemingly funny right out of the womb, but it took him a while to become the best and bravest standup comic of his generation. Released in 1974, That Nigger's Crazy helped make the world aware of his pungent brilliance, and 1976's Bicentennial Nigger and 1979's Wanted: Live in Concert captured him at the very peak of his game, but Pryor had been knocking around for years before doing standup and acting, and Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974) is a two-CD set that attempts to make sense of the earlier stages of Pryor's recording career. Pryor released his first album in 1968, and the earliest material here finds him in surprisingly toothless form, though there's an undertow of bitterness and rage that struggles to rise to the surface; as much as he tries to be Bill Cosby, there's an edge here that doesn't quite permit it (especially when he does bits about his childhood), and the truest moment comes when he answers a heckler asking for less improv and more straight jokes by saying, "Why don't you go to Las Vegas? They got millions of comics doing that." It's near the end of disc one that the Pryor we know begins to come out, in a long bit about his old neighborhood that rings of the funny but corrosive truth that would become his hallmark. Disc two is dominated by material from Pryor's first album for the underground "party record" label Laff, 1971's Craps (After Hours), which offers a crude (and crudely recorded) variation on the full-blown genius of That Nigger's Crazy; if it isn't Pryor at his very best, it's the first full-bodied expression of the genius that was to come. This set also includes much of the material from early tapes that leaked out in fits and starts over the better part of a decade on low-budget albums for Laff and similar labels, while the discography in the liner booklet attempts to sort out the confusion these albums have always caused for Pryor completists. If you want to hear Richard Pryor when he was the greatest standup comic on Earth, you should pick up Rhino's superb The Richard Pryor Anthology: 1968-1992, or dig deep for the nine-disc box set ...And It's Deep, Too!: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings. But if you want to hear how Pryor got there, Evolution/Revolution documents the journey very well indeed, and it's very funny and revealing stuff.

Disc One: Evolution (1966–1968)
01 Peoria

02 Improv, Pt. 1
03 Heart & Brain
04 Taxi Cabs & Subways
05 Playboy Club
06 Rumpelstiltskin
07 Slippin' In Poo Poo
08 Birth Control
09 Nigger Babies
10 Faith Healer
11 Black Power
12 I Feel
13 Jail
14 Prison Play (aka Black Ben The Blacksmith)
15 Directions
16 Movie Stars In The Bathroom
17 War Movies
18 The Army
19 Hippy Dippys
20 Hank's Place
21 Improv, Pt. 2
22 Mankind

Recorded live at:
The Hungry I, San Francisco, CA, February 1966 (Tracks 1, 2)
unknown venue, July 15, 1967 (Tracks 4, 5)
P.J.'s, Hollywood, CA, May 24 & 25, 1968 (Tracks 7-11)
The Troubador, West Hollywood, April 1968 (Tracks 14, 15, 21, 22) and July 26-29, 1968 (remainder)

Disc Two: Revolution (1971–1974)
23 Prelude
24 Gettin' High
25 Fuck From Memory
26 Big Tits
27 Gettin' Some
28 The President
29 Asshole
30 The Line-Up
31 Masturbating
32 Religion
33 Black Preachers
34 Being Born
35 Blow Our Image
36 Blackjack
37 I Spy Cops
38 Sugar Ray
39 White Folks
40 Indians
41 Ass Wupin'
42 Got A Dollar
43 Pres' Black Baby
44 Doope
45 Wino Panthers
46 After Hours
47 280 Pound Ass
48 Crap Game
49 Insurance Man
50 Black And Proud
51 Gettin' The Nut
52 Fuck The Faggot
53 Jackin' Off
54 Snappin' Pussy
55 Fartin'
56 Wattstax Monologue: Niggers, The Handshake, Rummage Sale/Stylin'
   Whitey, Justifiable Homicide, Super Nigger, Marijawani
57 Whorehouse, Pt. 1
58 Whorehouse, Pt. 2
59 Niggers & Italians
60 Jim Brown (alternate version)
61 Black Films
62 Jesus Saves
63 Street Corner Wino (Wino & Junkie intro)
64 Wino & Junkie
65 Interview

Disc Two recorded live at:
The Redd Foxx Club, Hollywood, CA, January 1971 (Tracks 24-55—the entire Craps (After Hours) album)
Laney College, Oakland, CA, February 25, 1971 (Track 57)
Basin Street West, San Francisco, CA, February 26, 1971 (Tracks 58, 64)
unknown venue, Los Angeles, CA, May 30, 1971 (Track 23)
The Summit Club, Hollywood, CA, October 8, 1972, for use in the motion picture Wattstax (Track 56)
The Comedy Store, Hollywood, CA, October 29-November 1, 1973 (Tracks 59-63)
unknown location in San Francisco Bay Area, Fall 1974 (Track 65)

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