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 bassline 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. Laying it, the message, between the lines is still the best "therapy" for rock & rollers. Tommy James praises Jesus on his web page, Grand Funk's Mark Farner does it in concert, and like Pratt, all three musicians alienate part of their audience -- it is kind of hard to preach in seedy rock & roll clubs and forget the fact that a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it gets no recognition. By blatantly talking about things religious in "What If You Changed Your Mind," "walking on water...speaking of heaven," well, as was said about Lou Reed, better to have his art with excesses than not have him around at all. When Janis Joplin (someone who never got the chance to stray from her musical course) sang gospel it was fused inside the pop of "My Baby," a blues tune the Yardbirds, of all people, covered. The ominous sounds of "What's Gonna Happen to You" and "Pass Away" are the legitimate sequel heirs to Pratt's 1973 Columbia Records masterpiece. What the audience would rather hear, though, would be the investigation of psychosis, "Inside Me Wants Out" from the aforementioned earlier disc stripped bare and brought back to life. Perfect Therapy sounds like rock & roll under the influence of medicine that can be religion, the edge taken off the angst. All the darkness inherent in the playing is eased up by the fabric softener of spiritual music. "Masterpiece" can be so much more, dark and mysterious rage though here with rubber gloves. The song has the creation telling the Creator that the creation understands the hardships of the day are to perfect the "masterpiece," that old coal into diamond routine. But to put the eternal in mortal terms is to limit the Almighty. Pratt's many, many, many gifts are getting back in tune with where they should be in this new millennium, where his message will entertain and reach a wider audience. These spiritual and religious records perform a two-fold service -- they awaken you to his work in the 1980s as well as give his fan base an overwhelming waterfall of artistry to absorb after a long absence. "Let Me See Your Face" is musically as key as Dan Fogelberg's early-to-mid-'80s output, Pratt's voice is in great shape, and he sounds as determined as ever. Hopefully this music brought the artist closer to his Creator, and the message revealed was that Pratt is a master musician -- and that his Father's business is to entertain the masses as one of the most underrated and brilliant musicians of the 20th century. Bruce Springsteen can keep the hype; Pratt is the real thing. He's praised God enough, now God needs Pratt to let it rip. There is evidence here that if Pratt puts his mind to it, he can open new vistas and be one of the key artists to redirect pop music at the beginning of the new century. "I don't want to rule the world/it's too much for me" in "I Let It Go" could be about a musician walking away from enormous fame as easily as it can be about a Savior not content in the material world. Fifteen songs, 61 minutes plus, all sonically produced to perfection.
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