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Shout! Factory to Release Nine-Disc Richard Pryor Box Set

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Pryor boxRichard Pryor – one of the most culturally-significant, nearly-unprintable and flat-out funniest stand-up comedians in history – will be celebrated by Shout! Factory this summer with a massive career-spanning box set.

No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert captures more than 12 hours of Pryor, from his popular (if comparatively pedestrian) early works as a Cosby-esque stand-up in the 1960s, to his wildly popular, immensely controversial glory years in the 1970s and 1980s to his last stand-up appearances in the 1990s, before retiring from the stage to cope with multiple sclerosis.

Pryor’s glory years, of course, were punctuated by genuinely funny and captivating observations on American issues in the at-times turbulent ’70s. He fearlessly discussed race, crime, drugs and a slew of other hot-button issues – and did so in ways that most publications would have trouble printing even today. Pryor parlayed that success into television and film, making one of the most notable appearances of Saturday Night Live‘s early run, as well as co-writing Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (Pryor was in fact the first choice for the lead role of Black Bart) and a run of films with Saddles co-star Gene Wilder, including Silver Streak and Stir Crazy.

Though Pryor passed away in 2005, his influence looms large over stand-up comedians; Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle doubtlessly owe their ability to speak uncompromisingly about race to Pryor, and most of his contemporaries from Bob Newhart to Jerry Seinfeld have gone on record concerning his comic abilities.

Following the idea of Shout! Factory’s terrific The Incredible Mel Brooks box, No Pryor Restraint will feature an exhaustive look at Pryor’s career with seven CDs and two DVDs, including two hours of previously unreleased content on top of his most classic albums. “The best material from Pryor’s classic albums for the Laff, Stax & Warner Bros. labels” will be featured, as well as compilation-only material, including tracks from:

  • Richard Pryor (Dove/Reprise, 1968)
  • ‘Craps’ (After Hours) (Laff, 1971)
  • That N—–‘s Crazy (Partee/Stax, 1974)
  • …Is It Something I Said? (Reprise, 1975)
  • Bicentennial N—– (Warner Bros., 1976)
  • Wanted: Richard Pryor Live In Concert (Warner Bros., 1978)
  • Live on the Sunset Strip (Warner Bros., 1982)
  • Here and Now (Warner Bros., 1983)
  • …And It’s Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings 1968-1992 (Warner Bros./Rhino, 2000)
  • Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years 1966-1974 (Warner Bros./Rhino, 2005)

The box will also contain the concert films Richard Pryor Live in Concert (1979), Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) and Richard Pryor Here and Now (1983). There will also be a book inside the package, featuring “rare photos, multiple essays, exclusive celebrity tributes, a discography, a filmography, and a personal note penned by Richard’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor.”

Those who pre-order from Shout! Factory directly get a tenth bonus disc – the unreleased Live At The Comedy Store, October 1973 CD – and will see it ship in mid-May, well ahead of its June 11 street date. The A.V. Club also has an exclusive unreleased audio clip from the box. We’ll update this post with Amazon links and a track list as it’s available.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 28, 2013 at 14:22

5 Responses

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  1. As most of Pryor’s original albums are only available on the “…And It’s Deep, Too!” box, I have mixed feelings about ordering another $90 boxed set without at least the basis of a tracklisting. Laff Records released a bunch of Pryor albums back in the 1970’s, containing quite a bit of material that has never made it to CD. Pryor gained ownership of the Laff masters before his death; it would be nice if the estate allowed material from albums like “Insane” and “Holy Smoke” to be heard again.

    I would also hope that as the box contains three concert films on DVD, there will be no overlap of material from the concurrent albums–the “Live In Concert” and “Sunset Strip” albums were recorded on different nights than the movies were filmed, but the routines are the same; the “Here And Now” album contains the audio direct from the film soundtrack.

    This box has the potential to be a great set, but comedy routines don’t quite have the same replay value as music; having to skip through familiar material to hear something “new” may prove to be a chore. Lord knows, I’ll probably pick this up, but Shout Factory has to clear some pretty high hurdles if they intend for this set to be anything but a step-sibling to “Evolution/Revolution” and the “…And It’s Deep, Too!” box.

    Hank

    March 28, 2013 at 15:32

  2. I hope Shout Factory manages to correct the audio sync problems of previous DVDs of “Wanted: Richard Pryor Live In Concert”. As long as this box has a watchable copy of that film, which is the funniest stand-up routine I’ve ever seen, it will be worth the price.

    Jason Michael

    March 28, 2013 at 22:55

  3. Wow–I ordered this earlier this week, assuming it wouldn’t arrive until next weekend at the earlier, and instead, it arrived today–bonus disc and everything. As sour as I sounded a few weeks back, I’m quite stoked by it now after flipping through the book–a lot of love and care went into this title. I’m probably not going to listen to the discs for a few more days–I’m taking a lengthy drive up north in a couple of weeks, and will save my first listen for the road–but I will probably screen the DVD’s sooner rather than later.

    Pryor was one of my heroes growing up. God knows, I probably have much of the contents of this set already memorized by now, but his material absolutely deserve any and all deluxe treatment.

    In the meantime–pay no attention to the “mid-May” ship date–it is apparently shipping now!

    Hank

    May 10, 2013 at 17:48

  4. The unreleased stuff in this set is amazing–one recording is from the first night of filming for “Richard Pryor Live On The Sunset Strip”, a show which a jittery Pryor cut short, apologizing to the audience as to why. There is another confessional segment from that same 1981 tour, in which Pryor talks to the audience about his plans to take time off and think things over. The audience audibly protests this, but Pryor’s confessional, apparently ad libbed and from the heart, is, again, amazing.

    I should also mention that I detected no audio sync problems with the “Live In Concert” DVD.

    Hank

    May 22, 2013 at 22:04

    • The latter track is called “Bein’ Real” – it actually explains the departure of quality in “Live On The Sunset Strip” and even more in “Here and Now” – after the fire, his heart just wasn’t in it no more.


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