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Although not intuitively obvious from the title, Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings is an album of love songs. Ranging from the cynical We are the Lonely, derived from the "personals" craze of the 90's ("SWF with breasts so large, takes Visa, AMEX and Mastercharge") to the soulful Leave the Lights On, from the whimsical Humidity Built the Snowman to the gut wrenching This Love is Real, Lost Dogs and Mixed Blessings is classic Prine. These songs are characterized by highly melodic undertones, crisp, intelligent lyrics and highly professional musicianship and production values. To be honest, I've never understood why Prine never mad it big. He produces songs that work, as exemplified by the huge number of covers of his work. He has an infectious personality and it a tremendous stage performer. He produces albums where you actually want to listen to every single song, as opposed to most albums where you spend as much time skipping through the junk as you do listening to the one or two halfway decent songs on the album. John Prine is a songwriter and storyteller of the first order, and this is one of his all time best albums. Take a pass on all the garbage out there and make John Prine one of your regulars-you'll never regret that you did.
Indeed, when the critics brand an up-and-coming songwriter "the new Bob Dylan", it gives the artist a complex he may never live down, and a career that's anything but distinguished. However, John Prine is one of those unlucky "neo-Dylans" that not only took that label in stride, but slowly trampled over it. Like most songwriters, Prine's songs have been famous thanks to other artists, while he himself has been restricted to cult status. The title of LOST DOGS & MIXED BLESSINGS is an appropriate summing up of Prine's career, which has seen its fair share of hills and valleys, but resulted in him still alive & kicking. With his most recent recordings, Prine has adopted a more traditional country sound that has turned out to be a great background for his offbeat lyrics and even more sardonic delivery. Songs like the acronym-heavy "We Are The Lonely", the smartly-written "Leave The Lights On", and the easy-to-sing-along "Big Fat Love" are both catchy and original enough to have won some airplay on country radio stations not just by Prine himself, but maybe by Dwight Yoakam or George Strait.. The same goes for well-sung favorites like the infectious opener "New Train", the bluesy "Ain't Hurtin' Nobody" and the sarcastic "Same Thing Happened To Me". Like Dylan, Prine's music has its share of idiosyncrasies, with even the most heartfelt statements being delivered with a slight tongue-in-cheek. BLESSINGS contains "Humidity Built The Snowman", "Lake Marie", "Quit Hollerin' At Me" and "He Forgot That It Was Sunday", which all sound like ordinary ballads, but still contain the heavily-veiled wordplay of his uptempo songs.Read more ›
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Listening to this album and other greats by John Prine, I may be forever puzzeled as to why many consider JP's music as being in a Cult Status. Comparisons to Dylan & others, in my view are extremely unfair. John Prine sounds like one of the Few True Originals to me. Just about every tune on Lost Dogs + Mixed Blessing is worthy of attention, while, and you know I am right about this, just about every other artist puts out an album with 1 or 2 good tunes and a lot of fill. We Are The Lonely and Big Fat Love are Cranked-up Rockers while the other tunes are a good mix of music and lyrics that Can't be put into any one category. John's music is a good contemporary blend of a lot of styles, which indeed has the overall qualities which again, equal originality. Why I think someone like John Prine gets considered as Cult Status is because for years radio stations and record stores put him along with other great artists such as Buffy Sainte-Marie into obscure, out of the way, Folk Music Bins and while the mainstream record hunter was looking in the rock or country sections of stores they were not seeing great offerings such as John Prine. Now in the age of the PC we have a much better chance of discovering new interests/items or finding what we're searching for. Lost Dogs And Mixed Blessings is just one of many Great John Prine albums and it's a great example of why John Prine does not need to be compared to anyone else. His music is Great on it's own.
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Ok, so I stole the title from one of his albums. Sorry, John. Another long-time Prine fan here (have been hooked ever since "The Accident" back in 1976). Not surprisingly, this one became another of my favorite albums. I don't know how he does it, but the sentiments he expresses in his music seem to follow my life. Maybe that's because his music isn't cookie-cutter, "perfectly crafted popular hit songs" and is open to so much varying interpretation, there's always something there that I relate to at any particular time. And it always makes me think. Sometimes his meaning (or my best guess at his meaning) doesn't become clear for years. "Lake Marie" is one of my favorites on this one. First heard it during my divorce, when John sings about being up in Canada, "trying to save our marriage, or catch a few fish, whatever comes first." He has lifted my spirits and brought so many smiles to my face over so many years and through so much turmoil. I'll always be so grateful that he didn't make a lifelong career out of delivering "more junk mail than the junkyard could hold." If you're a Prine fan you will probably love this one. If you're not a Prine fan, or you're not sure, it's anyone's guess. John Prine isn't for everyone - if he was, I'd probably hate him.
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