Arthur Prysock

Today's Love Songs Tomorrow's Blues

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Recorded in the twilight of his career, this turned out to be the 63-year-old Arthur Prysock's last album; he retired due to illness a few years later, moved to Bermuda and passed away there in 1997. It was the last gasp of a mini-Renaissance for the veteran chitlin' circuit balladeer, the third album on a Milestone contract that had, at long last, resulted in some recognition by the Grammy voters, if not the music press. Unfortunately, it is the least of the Milestones, for Prysock's deep-pile-carpet bass-baritone was suddenly developing a gravelly frayed edge and problems up high. Five of the nine tracks are with Prysock's own band (with brother Red on tenor sax), as had been the practice during his Milestone sessions. For the rest, producer Bob Porter brought in some heavyweight help (Hank Crawford, Howard Johnson, Melvin Sparks, Bernard Purdie). Things don't start off too well; on "After the Lovin,'" Prysock sounds very much like Engelbert Humperdinck in certain passages -- and almost as bland -- and he doesn't have much to say about "You Are So Beautiful." He does hit a stride of sorts with the loping swing of "Got to Get You Out of My Mind" -- with Sparks' B.B. King-like guitar licks pointing the way -- and despite his vocal problems, through sheer wile and guile, he makes "It's All in the Game" worth hearing. And at least the last track on the last album, Prysock's own "All My Lovin' Was in Vain," has a cocky, insouciant feeling that sends his recording career out on a high.

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