12 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While John Prine’s first two albums can be viewed as handsome twins, 1973’s Sweet Revenge feels like the start of a new chapter. There's more instrumentation here than on the first two records, with a bevy of Nashville session musicians chipping bits of rock and soul into Prine’s rustic folk style. Most of Prine’s songs take place at the intersection of absurdity and poignancy, and Sweet Revenge proves he could spin magic from the random or mundane situations he encountered in his life, such as reading an advice column (“Dear Abby”) or witnessing a collision at a dangerous Chicago intersection (“The Accident (Things Could Be Worse)”). He wrote about organ donation (“Please Don’t Bury Me”) and spending Christmas day behind bars (“Christmas in Prison”). He even wrote songs about hot weather (“Mexican Home”) and about the writing process itself (“Onomatopoeia”). After describing so many glimpses of the strangeness of modern life, Prine closes his album with the country standard “Nine Pound Hammer,” as if to remind listeners that their poet will always be a country picker at heart—albeit one with sensitivity and a taste for the extraordinary and peculiar.

EDITORS’ NOTES

While John Prine’s first two albums can be viewed as handsome twins, 1973’s Sweet Revenge feels like the start of a new chapter. There's more instrumentation here than on the first two records, with a bevy of Nashville session musicians chipping bits of rock and soul into Prine’s rustic folk style. Most of Prine’s songs take place at the intersection of absurdity and poignancy, and Sweet Revenge proves he could spin magic from the random or mundane situations he encountered in his life, such as reading an advice column (“Dear Abby”) or witnessing a collision at a dangerous Chicago intersection (“The Accident (Things Could Be Worse)”). He wrote about organ donation (“Please Don’t Bury Me”) and spending Christmas day behind bars (“Christmas in Prison”). He even wrote songs about hot weather (“Mexican Home”) and about the writing process itself (“Onomatopoeia”). After describing so many glimpses of the strangeness of modern life, Prine closes his album with the country standard “Nine Pound Hammer,” as if to remind listeners that their poet will always be a country picker at heart—albeit one with sensitivity and a taste for the extraordinary and peculiar.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
25 Ratings
25 Ratings
Donny C. ,

Good introduction ... in 1973

I'd been hearing about and reading about this guy for awhile when I came across this album and bought it without much thought. It wasn't long before I was going backward, buying his first two. While I would have to say that Prine's first album is still my favorite after all these years, this one ranks second, and all the rest fall into a distant third, fourth, etc. Diamonds in the Rough is good, Common Sense is pretty good -- I lost contact after that. and later realized he did too. But one can't go wrong with Prine's first album and this more humorous collection. He also started to put covers in his albums at this point (Nine Pound Hammer), but that's OK. As the iTunes review pointed out, this more of a rocker than his earlier work, and as far a cynicism, I think he peaked with this album. Definitely worth owning.

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