Think of September 78 as John Prine live, the missing years. As if by fate, Prine discovered recordings of a hometown show at Chicago’s Park West while cleaning his basement. Consequently, it’s not really new. The album debuted on vinyl as a 2015 Record Store Day exclusive. As of Aug. 25, 2017, it’s out digitally and on CD via Prine’s Oh Boy Records.
It’s prime Prine with an electric band, featuring a moving rendition of his famed “Angel From Montgomery,” in addition to several cuts from the Bruised Orange album released that same year. “Iron Ore Betty” was Prine’s best work in ’78, in the studio and, from the sound of this recording, live.
The 70 year old Prine’s incalculable influence on country seemingly expanded with the current generation of performers. Prine covers Hank Williams, Jessi Colter and others as duets with female singers on 2016’s For Better, Or Worse. Young Nashville, namely Kacey Musgraves and Morgane Stapleton, share center stage with a true living legend. It’s like a smaller scale version of Johnny Cash’s American recordings, introducing a legend to a younger audience.
Prine’s current tour schedule pairs him with younger talents he probably influenced. Future dates feature John Moreland and Amanda Shires as co-headliners. Contemporary artists like Margo Price and Sturgill Simpson have already exposed Prine’s vast talent and back catalog to their growing fan bases.