Richard Pryor

The Warner Bros. Albums (1974-1983)

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With Rhino's 2000 box set ...And It's Deep, Too!: The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992) having fallen out of print, the year 2013 saw the rights to the comedian's work being sorted out once again and compiled in two very different sets. First, there was Shout Factory's No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert, where producer Reggie Collins combined album cuts with rare material for a career-spanning and satisfying montage, while later in year, this dry compiling of Pryor's Warner Bros. material appeared, essentially replacing ...And It's Deep, Too! with its straight-up, chronological attitude. Compare the two and this one loses …And It's Deep's first (Pryor's 1968 self-titled effort for the Dove label) and last disc (a set of outtakes, brilliantly titled That "African-American" Is Still Crazy: Good Shit from the Vaults) along with the liner notes from Walter Mosley, which just happened to win a Grammy. The bookending discs from the previous set supplied some context and are missed, but the material within is ground-breaking, vital, and hilarious, all of it and all at once. The albums That Nigger's Crazy, ...Is It Something I Said?, and Bicentennial Nigger display the massive above amount of artistic growth Pryor was undergoing during this time, while Wanted, Live on the Sunset Strip and Here and Now show him on top, entertaining millions while kowtowing to none (save cocaine addiction, which Pryor is brutally honest about during the poignant bits of Sunset Strip). There's no booklet, just re-creations of the original albums all packaged in their own sleeves, and the cover photo even comes from the same session that was used on …And It's Deep. As such, the copyright on the back of the set still reads "2000," which is probably the last time anyone from the Warner creative department touched the stuff, but complaining about missed opportunities is still much, much better than complaining about this great work being out of print. Check No Pryor Restraint for a modern redo, but certainly check this one if you missed out on the earlier set.

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