Richard Pryor Goes Digital

Monday, November 30, 2015
Richard Pryor Goes Digital

Tomorrow marks what would've been Richard Pryor's 75th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, we've added a six-pack of Pryor's classic comedy albums to Rhino's digital catalog, along with a box set which includes all of the album he released on Warner Brothers between 1974 and 1983. While it goes without saying that everything we just mentioned is nothing less than hilarious, it probably couldn't hurt if we offered up a bit more insight into each of these efforts.

Richard Pryor, That Nigger's Crazy! - Recorded live at Don Cornelius's Soul Train nightclub in San Francisco in early 1974, Pryor earned a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for this release, which initially came out on the Stax Records imprint Partee Records. When Stax closed up shop not long after its release, Pryor was fortunate enough to walk away with control of the master rights to the album, and he promptly signed with Warner Brothers, resulting in the albums reissue in late 1975, only a few months after the next album we're going to discuss.

Richard Pryor, …Is It Something I Said? - Recorded at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, this was another Grammy-winning album for Pryor, but it's also notable as the first album to introduce listeners to Mudbone, one of Pryor's most memorable characters.

Richard Pryor, Bicentennial Nigger - You're going to notice a definite trend at this point, but…this was also a Grammy-winning album, and it's arguably the most influential album of his entire career. It was recorded predominately at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, California, but the title track was recorded a few months earlier at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. Beyond the title track and “Mudbone Goes to Hollywood,” likely the most familiar track is “Acid,” a route which Pryor did when he hosted “Saturday Night Live.”

Richard Pryor, Wanted: Live in Concert - A double album recorded variously in Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC, this did not win a Grammy, but don't cry for Pryor: two of the performances from this particular concert tour were filmed for theatrical release.

Richard Pryor, Live on the Sunset Strip - Big surprise: Pryor earned another Grammy for this album, which was also recorded for release as a feature film, but if you had cable during the '80s, then you already know that, because it was on every other day…not that there was anything wrong with that! Virtually every bit on this album is a classic in its own right, but Pryor is at his funniest and most frank when he discusses the incident when he caught fire while freebasing cocaine. It's a testament to the man's gifts as a storyteller that he can make you laugh.

Richard Pryor, Here and Now - Recorded at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans, this was Pryor's final album as a stand-up comedian, and although it didn't take home a Grammy, it did deliver another solid Mudbone routine as well as an anecdote about meeting the President of the United States.

Richard Pryor, The Warner Bros. Albums (1974 - 1983) - Actually, there's not really a whole lot to say about this, except that it contains all of the albums we've just discussed. But, hey, you have to admit: it's convenient!