Records are Like Life
Andy Pratt’s first album preceded 1973’s self-titled release on Columbia, which included the minor hit “Avenging Annie.” Records Are Like Life is a lost treasure. This is Pratt at his most innocent, with vocals that sound otherworldly and songwriting that is way ahead of its time.
The Andy Pratt Album
Andy Pratt’s self-titled album is a very quirky, idiosyncratic album that definitely establishes Pratt as a major force in the singer-songwriter arena. He also sounds very depressed as many of the song titles indicate (e.g. “Inside Me Wants Out,” “So Fine, (It’s Frightening)”). However, this doesn’t diminish the album’s power or the particular style that is very much Pratt’s own. The highlight of the album is the near-hit “Avenging Annie.” Sung mostly in Pratt’s falsetto voice, it is a tale of a mythical heroine told from the woman’s point of view. The fast piano technique is impressive, as are some other production touches (such as the cat sounds and descending guitar line). The song deserves its classic status hands down.
When it was first released in 1976, Resolution garnered great critical acclaim. While claims by Rolling Stone that Pratt “has forever changed the face of rock” seem far-fetched, it still is one of the finest singer-songwriter albums of the ’70s. While Pratt’s expressive, but sometimes high-pitched, voice may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying that the songs themselves were superb. Furthermore, the arrangements and intricacies within each selection were something to behold. No two songs sound alike, yet there is a thematic link between everything presented — that being the power of love to pull, push, and sustain every human being. The idealism and optimism that is pervasive throughout is balanced by a sense of how hard it is to reach that point, and thus the hopefulness seems real and earned.
Shiver in the Night
Shiver In The Night sounds like a stab at a hit record for Andy Pratt. Though Arif Mardin is retained as producer, the sound is not quite as ornate or complex as Resolution. On several cuts, including the opening “All I Want Is You,” it sounds as if Pratt and/or Mardin are trying to emulate the Bee Gees mid 70’s disco sound. (Mardin had produced the Bee Gees’ “comeback” album Main Course) Not that it is a bad cut; in fact, it is one of the highlights and hollers “hit single.” (It has a great hook) The following song, “Rainbow” is also very strong and hints at Pratt’s later conversion to Christianity. Elsewhere, there are other songs that are more lyrically in line with the “heaviness” of Resolution. “Mama’s Getting Love,” is, on the other hand, very erotic and has a very unusual twist on carnality. It is not the usual type of song one expects to hear from Andy Pratt.
Though it received little attention at the time of its release, Motives is a good album at least on par with 1977’s Shiver In The Night. No track on the record shouts instant classic, but most songs are strong in melody and retain the unique musical and vocal quirkiness (i.e. falsetto) that is the hallmark of Pratt’s style. Much to his credit, Pratt doesn’t sanitize his music after his apparent conversion to Christianity. The last cut, “Cross On A Hill” quotes liberally from the Bible, but Pratt, as is often the case, sounds as if he is still struggling with issues of faith and belief.
Marking his triumphant return to the rock music world, “New Resolutions” consists of some old and some new material. Songs from the vault as well as brand new recordings highlight this collection which brings us the cover versions of “Strange Brew” (Cream) and “The Harder They Come” (originally from “Cover Me”) as well as an acoustic version of “Who Am I Talking To” (from “Solo”). But the new tunes are worth their weight in gold: “Change Your Mind” – “Whatcha Gonna Do” – “Remember Me” – “Why Don’t You Love Me” and “Welcome to America.”
This is also an enhanced CD containing two videos – “Treasure That Canary” from the “Live at The Village Underground” performance and also “Who Am I Talking To” from the “Solo” album.
I’m Alright opens with an ominous song of “getting through it” that is the title track, one of the darkest tunes — and sounds — in the vast Andy Pratt repertoire. Where Cindy Bullens “I’m A Survivor” shed all illusions of reformation, her contemporary, Andy Pratt has too much compassion for the person obviously causing much pain. Like a postcard from the depths the artist tells the individual in question that he’s ok through it all, though the music seems to indicate otherwise.
Reunited with Andy Pratt Band guitarist Mark Doyle, who produced and plays on this album, the two create something far removed from the complexities of the jazz/rock ensemble they toured with as well as the shimmering and glossy Christian albums recorded by the singer. This is Pratt’s Plastic Ono Band slow-motion primal scream, spiralling into a psych-out medley of “19th Nervous Breakdown” and an original titled “Insanity” with Doyle’s charged guitar lines reflecting just that. Long time fans of Pratt always knew he flirted with the darker emotions, but here the exploration is more pronounced.
Read further: Dave Edmunds
Masters Of War
Andy’s 2008 studio effort is a collection of originals and covers including the title track (Bob Dylan) and the Beatles’ “And I Love Her.” As usual, Andy is still a master of recording and songwriting.
LIVE at the Village Underground 2003
Having not performed in New York for 23 years before this magic night, Andy along with original band members Mark Doyle and Gary Link (guitar and bass respectively) and Sal Baglio on guitar and Tom Hambridge on drums pour out rock history all over the receptive audience. This show was not only recorded on tape but there is an entire LIVE video of the whole affair. Maybe someday we’ll get to see all of it but one track – “Treasure That Canary” can be seen at the top of this page. Enjoy!
Heaven & Earth
Organized and designed by It’s About Music executive Dean Sciarra, the material is culled from Pratt’s Another World, Fire of Love, Runaway Heart, and Perfect Therapy albums, along with the track “Saviour” from the Arif Mardin-produced classic Resolution disc. The paradox here is that Pratt is a very unique and valuable artist, with material that is consistent and of a high grade. Take “I’m Special,” a stunning song between a father and a son. In a context where the general public can relate to it, say, on the soundtrack of the Spielberg film AI, with the alienated robot yearning for the love of his human parents, it could have reached a huge audience and got the message out. This is very listenable material that teaches a great spiritual lesson.
Andy Pratt’s 1986 Perfect Therapy album is an amazing musical effort that is as perplexing as it is masterful. Perplexing because the God references limit the scope while the expanding musical prowess is stunning. Not as complex as the 1973 self-titled Andy Pratt epic, there is a bright and deep keyboard current surrounding some of Pratt’s most commercial vocal sounds. “East/West” is just dynamite, a throbbing bass line under the spacious and inquisitive piano. When holding an extensive body of work in hand and objectively looking at it as art, a writer has to be careful to understand where the artist “was at” when putting these ideas to tape, as well as considering how the music stands over time.
Andy Pratt’s Another World finds him exploring his Christian faith, struggling with issues of accepting love from God and living out his life the way he feels he should. The recording is a laid-back affair, with Pratt’s tenor and Elton John-style piano the main attractions. He still has a gift with melody, and retains some of his unique vocal style, but with less falsetto than his 1970’s recordings.
Andy Pratt Solo is an incredible bridge tying the past to the present. It is the composer alone with guitar and piano and song — no different than if he was on a live radio broadcast from the ’70s promoting a current LP. With the new frontier of the Internet, this can be viewed as an important part of a trilogy or as a promotional tool. And while both those concepts work, Andy Pratt Solo actually stands on its own as an essential component of his musical legacy. Hearing material from the Andy Pratt album — “Who Will Be My Friend,” “I’ll Give It All to Music,” “Call Up That Old Friend” — especially for those who realize what an intriguing and valuable work that one-of-a-kind album is — brings enlightenment to people who care to explore this intense and thought-provoking individual.
The first release on the It’s About Music label is a reason to rejoice — the return of Andy Pratt with Mark Doyle, the guitarist from Pratt’s original band. This compilation is a delight in part because Pratt is not known for doing renditions of OPM — other people’s music. His excellent 1980s version of the Beatles’ “I’m Only Sleeping,” produced by Modern Lover Leroy Radcliffe, got limited distribution until recently, while covers of “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “Town Without Pity” are on the I’m Alright album released after this.
There aren’t the production values of Fun in the First World or Pratt’s Christian discs; produced and arranged in Doyle’s home studio in New York, it is a remarkable look at a serious artist — repeat, an artist known for being very, very serious — having some fun with a friend from his past. Pratt lets his hair hang down in Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors,” a truly innovative take on the country-pop classic, while Aaron Neville’s 1966 signature tune, “Tell It Like It Is,” works even better.
Fire Of Love
As one component of a large body of work, Fire of Love stands apart and gives Pratt’s fans a glimpse of his personal evolution. Though it is religion that inspired the recordings, minus the religion the music reaches larger heights and achieves its initial goal. Without talking about God Fire of Love would more effectively praise Him. Some superb moments are to be found in “Love Has No Limit.” A prayer is that the artist might reconstruct this for the masses: as a pop/jazz album it has Grammy potential; as a religious essay it may find itself an important work forgotten
Andy Pratt’s album entitled simply Life was recorded at Abakus Studio in Allendorf, Germany, and produced by Dan Cutrona and Gerhard Barth. It is musically stunning with a spacious — very big — sound and quality performances that listeners have come to expect from Andy Pratt. There are a dozen spiritual tunes, 11 written by the singer/songwriter along with a cover of D.J. Butler’s “I Will Change Your Name,” a song that hesitatingly breaks up the tempo of the disc with voices that come in like a Sunday church service. There are some excellent moments here, most notably “Yes, There Is an Answer” and “Come Unto Me.” As with the One Body disc, none of this music appears on the Heaven & Earth compilation of Pratt’s journey into sounds religious. The album begins with a wonderfully ominous “Holy Spirit” noting the source of Samson’s power — thought-provoking lyrics over a style that is most definitely gospel fused with jazz, a very interesting combination.
Andy’s newest spiritual effort may well be his best. With songs like “My Woman,” “Cry,” “Don’t Worry” and “Grey, Chick and Malda” you be the judge. Recorded a few years ago this wonderful collection is now available for the first time.
Read more: ISIS
About Any Pratt
First time Andy Pratt caught the public’s eye was with ‘Avenging Annie’ his 1973 hit single, long after the release of his first album, “Records Are Like Life” (now available in digipak format with a bonus track). The song, set partially to the tune of Woody Guthrie’s ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’, was included on his album ‘Andy Pratt’ and became a timeless FM classic and Pratt’s calling card. He never scored another hit like ‘Avenging Annie’ (Later recorded by Roger Daltrey finding itself on no less than 6 of Daltrey’s albums; Pratt’s version became the B side of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Blinded By The Light’ on a highly collectible CBS promo disc. Bette Midler phoned Andy personally to discuss possibly recording the tune.
Andy next recorded two albums, produced by Arif Mardin, for Atlantic, each one to critical acclaim and helping to develop his reputation as one of rock music’s most unique and meaningful songwriters and artists. Rolling Stone critic Stephen Holden wrote in 1976 ‘By reviving the dream of rock as an art and then re-inventing it, Pratt has forever changed the face of rock’. That alone could have been the end of a fairy-tale story. However the Big Time appeared to be just around the corner. Pratt and his intermediate label Nemperor Records, moved to CBS/Epic for the fourth album that contained a lighter, jazzier feel while lyrically sporting Andy’s new-found Christianity. On that disc Pratt worked with ELP/Yes engineer Eddy Offord.
Andy Pratt returned in 1982 with the mini album ‘Fun In The First World’ (included in ‘The Age Of Goodbye’) on Boston’s Enzone Records. Produced by Modern Lover Leroy Radcliffe, it is his finest and most compact rock ‘n roll work up to that point in time. Pratt’s religious overtones hampered some of his earlier work, but here he uses his beliefs and his vision to deliver an exceptional science-fiction epic in the title track. ‘Fun In The First World’ is a really magnificent and forgotten work that deserves a better fate’ (AllMusic.com).
On the strength of ‘Fun In The First World’ Andy Pratt got a deal offered from Lamborghini Records in London. The label that also signed Stiff’s Joana Lewie, fellow-Bostian Peter C. Johnson and reggae artist Jack Miller, started with great media hype, but unfortunately never got off the ground and thus that Andy Pratt album got shelved. In Europe the Lamborghini recordings (with Rhythm tandem Andy Newmark and Tony Levin) were briefly available on the album ‘Not Just For Dancing’ on EMI/Aztec Records in Holland and Megadisc in Denmark.
Since then Andy has released a dozen or so albums that reflect, more often that not, his spiritual beliefs, but has returned to the high standards he set for himself long ago with recent releases like “I’m Alright” and “Masters Of War.” Andy is in a constant state or writing and recording and you can expect a new album from him at any given point in time.