Today's 70s Song You Should Know: 'Avenging Annie' By Andy Pratt

Post by: Rick Ellis 16 June, 2023

The 1970s was the decade of the pop singer-songwriter. Carole King, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Jim Croce and a hundred other musicians who cranked out thoughtful pieces of ear candy that are still being sung more than fifty years later. But that explosion of talent also inspired a generation of singer-songwriters who attempted to upend the traditional pop sound of the genre and create something new. And of all of those musicians, few are as musically interesting as Andy Pratt.

Pratt had released a solo album on Polydor to very little attention in 1969, but his self-titled 1973 debut on Columbia Records garnered rave reviews from the rock press, especially for the track "Avenging Annie." The tune was loosely about Annie Oakley and Pretty Boy Floyd the Outlaw and if there is a singer-songwriter equivalent to "Bohemian Rhapsody," it's this spectacularly complex tune. It begins with hoof beats, two gun shots and a soaring piano that propels the rest of the tune. The lyrics tell the story of Annie's devotional love to a man who was cruel and violent to her:

He treat me worse than I ever imagined,
He even say he don't want me around.
Kept it up so long I couldn't be strong,
He run me right into the ground for five long years,
He picked me up and then he slapped me down.

Pratt's voice flows around the lyrics and his rollicking piano, creating a song that is distinctively unlike anything else you're ever heard.  "Avenging Annie" wasn't a hit - an edited version of the song only made it to #78 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart. But the album track was a staple on FM Rock radio. It was also covered by Roger Daltry on a solo album, although to be honest, it's a pretty lifeless version.

Pratt signed with Atlantic's Nemperor Records and released "Resolution" in 1976. Helmed by Bee Gees producer Arif Mardin, the album was an attempt at a more commercial sound and indeed was Pratt's best-selling album (it reached #104 on the Billboard album charts). It also earned rave review including this one from Rolling Stone:

"By reviving the dream of rock as an art and then re-inventing it, Pratt has forever changed the face of rock."

Unfortunately, the album didn't break Pratt wide open and neither two other criminally under-appreciated albums he released later in the 1970s. In the early 80s, Pratt converted to Christianity and has continued to release albums of a more spiritual nature. 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 21 June 2023 13:53