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Andy Pratt

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The great-grandson of oil magnate Charles Pratt, who founded Pratt Institute, Andy Pratt was the son of Edwin H. Baker Pratt, headmaster of an exclusive Cambridge, Massachusetts, day school (Browne & Nichols School, now Buckingham Browne & Nichols), which he attended as well. Later, attending boarding school, he tried to make life more bearable by joining various school bands.

Inspired by The Ventures, he played guitar or bass guitar in Bogus Chimes, Zinias, and Vagabonds. Pratt attended Harvard College and was awarded a B.A. in English Literature in 1968 (he missed attending Harvard with Gram Parsons, who had dropped out in 1963 after one semester). Soon afterward, he released his debut album, Records Are Like Life (1969), recorded just after his graduation from Harvard and re-released in 1971 on Polydor.

Pratt worked on his music with Boston-area bands Butter (a pun on Cream) and The Chosen Few, with whom he toured Europe. Neither the groups nor his first album were a success outside the Boston area. He built AEngus Studios, where he broadened his knowledge of recording techniques and multi-tracking arrangements in the spirit of Brian Wilson and Phil Spector.

First time Andy Pratt caught the public’s eye was with “Avenging Annie”, his 1973 hit single. The song, set partially to the tune of Woody Guthrie’s “Pretty Boy Floyd”, was included on his album Andy Pratt and became a timeless FM classic and Pratt’s calling card. He never scored another hit like “Avenging Annie” (Later recorded by Roger Daltrey finding itself on no less than six of Daltrey’s albums; Mr. Pratt’s version became the B-side of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded by The Light” on a highly collectible CBS promo disc. Bette Midler phoned Andy personally to discuss possibly recording the tune.

Andy next recorded two albums, produced by Arif Mardin, for Atlantic - each one to critical acclaim and helping to develop his reputation as one of rock music’s most unique and meaningful songwriters and artists. Rolling Stone critic Stephen Holden wrote in 1976, “by reviving the dream of rock as an art and then re-inventing it, Pratt has forever changed the face of rock”. That alone could have been the end of a fairy-tale story. However the Big Time appeared to be just around the corner. Pratt and his intermediate label Nemperor, moved to CBS/Epic for the fourth album that contained a lighter, jazzier feel while lyrically sporting Andy’s newfound Christianity. On that disc Pratt worked with ELP/Yes engineer Eddy Offord.

Andy Pratt returned in 1982 with the mini album Fun in The First World (included in The Age Of Goodbye) on Boston’s Enzone Records. Produced by Modern Lover Leroy Radcliffe, it is his finest and most compact rock ‘n’ roll work up to that point in time. Pratt’s religious overtones hampered some of his earlier work, but here he uses his beliefs and his vision to deliver an exceptional science- fiction epic in the title track.

On the strength of Fun in The First World Andy Pratt got a deal offered from Lamborghini Records in London. The label that also signed Stiff’s Joana Lewie, fellow-Bostonian Peter C. Johnson and reggae artist Jack Miller, started with great media hype, but unfortunately never got off the ground and thus the Andy Pratt album got shelved. In Europe the Lamborghini recordings (with Rhythm tandem Andy Newmark and Tony Levin) were briefly available on the album Not Just For Dancing on EMI/Aztec Records in Holland and Megadisc in Denmark and are now included in The Age of Goodbye.

This CoraZong album The Age of Goodbye combines the tracks from Fun in The First World, the Lamborghini masters of Not Just For Dancing and two songs recorded for EMI/Aztec of the Netherlands. The Lamborghini recordings and the songs of Fun in The First World were mastered from Bob Clearmountain’s original Sterling Sound Studio tapes. The two Dutch recordings had to be restored from vinyl. Immediately after the release of The Age of Goodbye on Corazong, about two dozen reel-to-reels were found in two different offices in America. A boxed set of out-takes is being planned for a limited edition “Numbered and signed” release.

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