John Prine – The Singing Mailman Delivers

January 01, 1970

(Oh Boy)


A two-disc set documenting archival demos and an early live
recording, The Singing Postman Delivers demonstrates that for the most part, John Prine’s musical persona emerged fully
formed. Both unassumingly folksy and literate to a tee, this former postal
worker bore the heart – and pen – of a seasoned troubadour, and here that
prowess is already evident in his down home delivery replete with sly, sad and
sardonic observations. Those that once labeled him as part of that early ‘70s
breed of new Dylans (a tag also bestowed on a young Bruce Springsteen) might
need to rethink that assessment given the evidence here, but given the sparse,
stripped down environs, comparison to Woody Guthrie wouldn’t be inappropriate.
Nevertheless, it’s also worth noting that that several early classics from
Prine’s prime catalog seemed to arrive intact, particularly two of his initial
standbys – the ever-so-poignant “Hello in There” and the touching “Souvenirs.”
The visceral “Sam Stone,” a particularly bitter indictment of the tragic
burdens borne by returning GIs, gets an early peek under a different name,
“Great Society Conflict Veteran Blues,” but even the early tracks that might
otherwise appear disposable offer intriguing insights of their own.


The accompanying live disc also finds Prine poised and
confident while advancing his new material in front of an audience that’s
apparently knowledgeable enough to call out requests. With additional
selections that were ultimately destined for his first few albums – a ragged
“Angel From Montgomery” among the most notable – it’s clear he’s already adept
at his craft. Notably too, a medley that somewhat awkwardly combines Hank Williams’
“Hey Good Lookin'” with “Jambalaya” proves Prine not only knew where he was
headed but also the path that had led him from where he had come.


In There,” “Souvenirs,” “Great Society Conflict Veteran Blues” LEE ZIMMERMAN

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