One of the more difficult side effects of this very strange year is bidding farewell to a number of musical luminaries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. John Prine‘s passing looms large among them, not only as one of the first cases but in light of the incredible few years he’d had: in 2018, his 18th album The Tree of Forgiveness became his first-ever Top 5 album, and in February 2020, only two months before he died, he earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
On October 23, fans new and old will have the chance to discover or rediscover what made him such an enduring legend of folk music with the release of a new box set from Rhino Records. Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums collates his first seven releases from 1971 to 1980, newly remastered and packaged in mini replicas of the original LP jackets. The box, featuring a new painting of Prine by Joshua Petker (inspired by a photo of him taken by Jim Shea), will also include a 20-page booklet featuring new liner notes by David Fricke and poster inserts.
Though an incredibly gifted songwriter, Prine was hiding in plain sight through the late ’60s and early ’70s, delivering mail in Chicago after serving in Germany during the Vietnam era and performing open-mic gigs on the side. But only a few months into his time at the small folk club The Fifth Peg, Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert happened to be in attendance for one of his gigs, and wrote a rapturous review that put Prine on the map. A year later, Kris Kristofferson happened upon a gig, and invited Prine to open for him at The Bitter End in New York City; Jerry Wexler signed him to Atlantic Records off the strength of that performance.
Prine’s songwriting catalog remains among the most evocative American folk music of the late 20th century, and many of his most beloved songs are on this collection, including “Angel From Montgomery,” “Paradise,” “Sam Stone,” “The Great Compromise,” “Christmas In Prison,” “That’s The Way That The World Goes ‘Round” and many more. A host of luminaries have covered his songs over the years, spreading their influence far beyond his original albums, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, John Denver, George Strait, Norah Jones, The Everly Brothers, Bette Midler and Tammy Wynette.
Pre-order Crooked Piece of Time at the links below and check out a list of each album included in the set below. Additionally, links are live for new vinyl pressings of the first four albums in this set, due out September 18.
Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (Rhino, 2020)
Disc 1: John Prine (Atlantic SD 8296, 1971) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 2: Diamonds In The Rough (Atlantic SD 7240, 1972) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 3: Sweet Revenge (Atlantic SD 7274, 1973) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 4: Common Sense (Atlantic SD 18127, 1975) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada)
Disc 5: Bruised Orange (Asylum 6E-139, 1978)
Disc 6: Pink Cadillac (Asylum 6E-222, 1979)
Disc 7: Storm Windows (Asylum 6E-286, 1980)