Mike Leone | Houston, TX, United States | 03/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have loved John Prine ever since being introduced to him by way of "Sweet Revenge" back in 1973 when I was a college senior. I haven't heard this album in a while but dug it out and played it again tonight. I still love it.First and foremost, John Prine is a poet. The words to many of his songs could stand very well on their own, without music; in fact, I'd love to see a book published of just the lyrics he has written over the years. Many of his songs are about the lives of everyday people, in some cases people forgotten by society, but he manages to find deep social truths in their lives. Therefore, John Prine's songs certainly do repay close attention to the words. And such humor! Lines such as "All of my friends are not dead or in jail" from the title track are even funnier to me now than they were back when I first heard the song.However, even though the words to many of his songs are sufficient unto themselves as poetry, his unique voice certainly adds an extra welcome dimension to them. And don't be fooled; he may sound as though he is just tossing these songs off, but behind that facade (and that craggy voice) is a fantastic musician who knows exactly what he wants from each song in terms of shading, dynamics and the rest.Certainly the funniest number on the album is "Dear Abby," which also gives us a glimpse of John's throwaway spoken humor. My first reaction to this song, many years ago, was "She's giving the same advice to each person," but when I finally stopped to think about it, I realized that John, through the imaginary words of Dear Abby, is saying that many of us are the cause of our own problems, and often for the very same reasons. For John Prine, even humor has its serious side.On the other end of the spectrum is my favorite track on the album, "Christmas in Prison." This song, which reflects the thoughts and experiences of a man who is incarcerated, is about a topic that is obviously very dear to John: the love relationship that, because of circumstances, is forced to exist mainly in the mind of the lovers for the time being; he also explored this subject in "Donald and Lydia" from his first, self-titled album. While the words resemble some of those "Redneck-Valentine's-Day-card"-type jokes that have been circulating on the internet recently, and certainly the song has its humorous aspect, the sincerity of John's voice and delivery raise the song way above the level of a mere joke. And the final line of the chorus, "We're rolling, my sweetheart, we're flowing, by God," shows us the narrator's ability to still be one with his beloved despite the enforced separation between them.But each song brings its own unique perspective to the mix. "The Accident" is an early and humorous statement of the current cliche, "Don't sweat the small stuff; everything is small stuff." "A Good Time" is a touching and very understated love song. And so forth.But the neat thing is about John Prine's art is that the songs can be appreciated without reference to their deep meanings. I can appreciate just about all of them for their surface value alone: the words in themselves are clever as words, while at the same time not drawing attention to themselves merely for being clever, as, for example, some country songs do.John Prine often ends his albums with a song that someone else has made famous; it is here that we get to see a little of what he considers to be his roots. The final track of "Sweet Revenge" is "Nine Pound Hammer" by Merle Travis. While I most enjoy hearing John Prine performing his own unique material, it's still great to hear what he can do with another's music. But hell, I'd probably even enjoy hearing him invading Pavarotti's territory and singing "La donna e mobile" from Rigoletto.John Prine is an artist, poet and musician well worth your time. And I personally can't think of a better place to start investigating his work than with "Sweet Revenge." But then again, since this album is where I started, I'm a little bit prejudiced."
Gordon C. Duus | Glen Ridge, NJ USA | 09/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have every John Prine original studio album. Most I originally bought on vinyl and replaced with CDs. With quality songs from start to finish, Sweet Revenge is my favorite of his albums. Songs approximately about revenge, death, prison, advice, loneliness, exasperation, stardom, grandparents, four way stop signs, Mexican weather (?), intimacy and hauling coal are served up with Prine's usual mix of wit, humility, humor, poignancy, insight and compassion. Much of it is folk music, some of it rocks, all of it has a pinch of country. An absolute treasure trove."
Sweet Revenge is John Prine at his best.
email@example.com Willis Triplett | Zionsville, IN, USA | 08/03/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Prine's clever lyrics and pretty melodies made an impact on my life. I own six of his recordings, but the best is Sweet Revenge. There are very few albums that have four outrageously memorable songs, but Sweet Revenge does. They are Blue Umbrella, A Good Time, Mexican Home and Dear Abby. Blue Umbrella is a guy deciding whether to break it off with his girl, and he's doing the deciding while walking in the rain under a blue umbrella. It has great lines, typically great "Prine Lines." This song touches my heart.A Good Time is also fine. The chorus is "But, I never understood what a good time could cost... Til last night, when I sat and talked with you." Talking with her made him understand.Mexican home is a mood song. Its unusual rhythms and mellow delivery almost make you think of the influence of alcohol.Dear Abby is Prine's humor at its most wry. If you can listen without smiling, I wouldn't want to spend time with you.! This album is an absolute must for any Prine Fan."
Sam Stone | Baltimore, MD USA | 10/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Prine's music. I own more of his albums than I can count. If I had to pick 10 desert island disks, 7 of them would be by Prine. Out of all of them, this one is my favorite - it's the one I find myself listening to over and over again. Great songs, lively music with an edge, and some great guitar playing by Steve Goodman and others. A masterpiece."