Early Richard Pryor Records Restored, Expanded

Richard Pryor’s first two albums, individually out of print for years, were at least included in full on a pair of archival collections released in the early-to-mid aughts: the first disc of 2000’s …And It’s Deep Too! 9-CD box set from Rhino was Pryor’s self-titled 1968 debut album for Dove/Reprise, and the entirety of his second album, 1971’s Craps (After Hours) was included as part of Rhino’s 2005 compilation Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966-1974), a two-CD distillation of recordings Pryor had made for the shoddy/sketchy/actually-sort-of-amazing “party record” indie label Laff Records prior to his mid-’70s mainstream breakthrough with 1974’s That Nigger’s Crazy. But both of those collections are also now out of print and difficult to find.

Fortunately, the Rhino of the 21st Century, aka Omnivore Recordings, has stepped up to the plate, as it so often does, and will be re-releasing Richard Pryor and Craps (After Hours) on Feb. 26th, with the full blessing of the Richard Pryor Estate. The former is expanded with a second disc consisting of the bulk of non-Craps recordings previously collected on Evolution/Revolution, while the latter will be a single disc with three bonus tracks culled from E/R and another taken from Shout! Factory’s 2013 No Pryor Restraint box set. Both feature the original cover artwork and new liner notes from Scott Saul, author of Becoming Richard Pryor.

These artifacts from Pryor’s nightclub days, during which he was evolving from more conventional stand-up comedy into the raw, personal, unfiltered comedic genius he was quickly becoming, offer an illuminating, hilarious and frequently vulgar glimpse into an oft-overlooked period in the career of a man who’d probably be cancelled within a week were he to emerge during our current ultra-sensitive times.