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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 2. 7th March 1973

Diamonds in the Rough—John Prine Atlantic Recording

Diamonds in the Rough—John Prine Atlantic Recording

With his first record John Prine was hailed by critics as the most important musical discovery of last year. This, his second, will add to the stories circulating about him. I've heard that he's some kind of guitar picking bodgie who shares sets with Dylan; sips whiskey between numbers and throws his head back to sing his songs to hushed crowds in grimy clubs. And afterwards the crowd rises up and says things like "he's so goddamn real!" The same mythic beginnings as the young Bob Dylan was going through back in 1963.

The songs, with one exception, are all Prine originals. There are songs about contemporary America ("take the star out of the window") and songs about a soldier's home-coming. And on my favourite track "The Great Compromise", he uses the story of a girl jilting her man at a drive-in to create a gently ironical analogy for the failure of the whole American dream.

What makes these songs work so well is Prine's rare combination of hardbitten reality and sensitivity. It all seems to be there. Prine's acoustic backing is consistently good. The only song without accompaniment is the title track and it shows the simple and yet satisfying way in which he resolves the themes he draws together in his music. The song is a 1929 Carter Family spiritual and it ends the album on an exquisite note

"When Jesus comes to claim us

And says "It is enough "

The diamonds will be shining,

No longer diamonds in the rough"