Last updated
The Early Years (1966–1974)
Live album by
RecordedFebruary 1966 to Autumn 1974
Genre Comedy
Label Rhino
Producer Richard Pryor, Robert Marchese, David Drozen
Richard Pryor chronology
The Anthology (1968–1992)
The Early Years (1966–1974)

Professional ratings
Review scores
Uncut (favorable) [1]

Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966–1974) is a two-CD compilation of live stand-up comedy recordings by comedian and actor Richard Pryor, that predates his 1974 mainstream breakthrough album That Nigger's Crazy .


The album was primarily compiled from tapes recorded by Laff Records between 1966 and 1974. By 1968, Pryor had only recorded and released one album up to that point, the eponymous debut that was released by Dove/Reprise and featured a much milder Pryor.


In 1970 Pryor signed with Laff Records to record and release his second album, the underground classic Craps (After Hours) . After its release in February 1971, Pryor sought out a larger label for his next album but didn't find it until 1974 when he signed with Stax Records, who originally released That Nigger's Crazy . Laff promptly sued Pryor, but a settlement allowed Pryor to become a free agent in exchange for allowing Laff to release all previously unissued material with them. After Pryor signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1975, where he kicked his recording career into high gear with the release of ...Is It Something I Said? and the reissue of That Nigger's Crazy , Laff began rushing out badly packaged and mastered albums to piggyback Pryor's Warner Bros. releases.

Between 1971 and 1983, Laff released twelve albums worth of Pryor material, but spread out the contents amongst twenty different albums, including releases that either repackaged older albums with new titles and covers, or albums that paired Pryor tracks from Craps with previously issued material from other comedians who had recorded for Laff (including Redd Foxx).

In 2002, Pryor and his wife/manager Jennifer Lee Pryor won the legal rights all of the Laff material with Pryor's name on it—over 40 hours of unedited reel-to-reel tapes—containing recordings both issued and unissued. Jennifer Lee Pryor then gave Reggie Collins and Steve Pokorny, the men who had previously compiled the ...And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968–1992) nine-CD box set and its companion 2-CD Anthology for Rhino, access to all of the tapes.

Disc 1 contains what is said to be the best of the material Laff had released on record after 1974, while Disc 2 contains the entire Craps album plus other unreleased material, including the unedited version of Pryor's entire Wattstax monologue.

The album packaging also contains liner notes from journalist David Felton, who had interviewed Pryor several times, including around the time of That Nigger's Crazy's release and after Pryor had his 1980 free-basing accident.

Track listing

Disc One: Evolution (1966–1968)

  1. "Peoria"
  2. "Improv, Pt. 1"
  3. "Heart & Brain"
  4. "Taxi Cabs & Subways"
  5. "Playboy Club"
  6. "Rumpelstiltskin"
  7. "Slippin' In Poo Poo"
  8. "Birth Control"
  9. "Nigger Babies"
  10. "Faith Healer"
  11. "Black Power"
  12. "I Feel"
  13. "Jail"
  14. "Prison Play" (aka Black Ben The Blacksmith)
  15. "Directions"
  16. "Movie Stars In The Bathroom"
  17. "War Movies"
  18. "The Army"
  19. "Hippy Dippys"
  20. "Hank's Place"
  21. "Improv, Pt. 2"
  22. "Mankind"

Recording Details

Disc One recorded live at:

  • The Hungry I, San Francisco, CA, February 1966 (Tracks 1, 2)
  • unknown venue, July 15, 1967 (Tracks 4, 5)
  • P.J.'s, Hollywood, CA, May 24 & 25, 1968 (Tracks 7–11)
  • The Troubador, West Hollywood, April 1968 (Tracks 14, 15, 21, 22) and July 26–29, 1968 (remainder)

Disc Two: Revolution (1971–1974)

  1. Prelude
  2. Gettin' High
  3. Fuck From Memory
  4. Big Tits
  5. Gettin' Some
  6. The President
  7. Asshole
  8. The Line-Up
  9. Masturbating
  10. Religion
  11. Black Preachers
  12. Being Born
  13. Blow Our Image
  14. Blackjack
  15. I Spy Cops
  16. Sugar Ray
  17. White Folks
  18. Indians
  19. Ass Wupin'
  20. Got A Dollar
  21. Pres' Black Baby
  22. Doope
  23. Wino Panthers
  24. After Hours
  25. 280 Pound Ass
  26. Crap Game
  27. Insurance Man
  28. Black And Proud
  29. Gettin' The Nut
  30. Fuck The Faggot
  31. Jackin' Off
  32. Snappin' Pussy
  33. Fartin'
  34. Wattstax Monologue:
    • Niggers
    • The Handshake
    • Rummage Sale/Stylin'
    • Whitey
    • "Justifiable Homicide"
    • Super Nigger
    • Marijawani
  35. Whorehouse, Pt. 1
  36. Whorehouse, Pt. 2
  37. Niggers & Italians
  38. Jim Brown (alternate version)
  39. Black Films
  40. Jesus Saves
  41. Street Corner Wino ("Wino & Junkie" intro)
  42. Wino & Junkie
  43. Interview

Recording Details

Disc Two recorded live at:

  • The Redd Foxx Club, Hollywood, CA, January 1971 (Tracks 2-33—the entire Craps (After Hours) album)
  • Laney College, Oakland, CA, February 25, 1971 (Track 35)
  • Basin Street West, San Francisco, CA, February 26, 1971 (Tracks 36, 42)
  • unknown venue, Los Angeles, CA, May 30, 1971 (Track 1)
  • The Summit Club, Hollywood, CA, October 8, 1972, for use in the motion picture Wattstax (Track 34)
  • The Comedy Store, Hollywood, CA, October 29-November 1, 1973 (Tracks 37–41)
  • unknown location in San Francisco Bay Area, Fall 1974 (Track 43)

Primary Recording Credits

Related Research Articles

<i>Black Mafia Life</i> 1993 studio album by Above the Law

Black Mafia Life is the second studio album by American hip hop group Above the Law. This album is what would be considered the blueprint of the G-Funk sound similar to Dr Dre's The Chronic. The album was recorded in 1991 into 1992 but was held back due to legal issues with Epic And Dr. Dre's Departure from Ruthless Records. It was released on February 2, 1993, via Ruthless Records. The album peaked at number 6 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and number 37 on the US Billboard 200. Rolling Stone gave the album 4.5 stars of 5.

Redd Foxx American comedian and actor

John Elroy Sanford, better known by his stage name Redd Foxx, was an American stand-up comedian and actor. Foxx gained success with his raunchy nightclub acts during the civil rights movement. Known as the "King of the Party Records", he performed on more than 50 records in his lifetime. He portrayed Fred G. Sanford on the television show Sanford and Son and starred in The Redd Foxx Show and The Royal Family. His film projects included All the Fine Young Cannibals (1960), Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), Norman... Is That You? (1976) and Harlem Nights (1989).

Richard Pryor American stand-up comedian, actor, social critic, writer, and MC

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor was an American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time.

Stax Records is an American record label, originally based in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 1957 as Satellite Records, the label changed its name to Stax Records in 1961 and shared its operations with Volt Records, a sister label created to avoid the impression of favoritism among radio stations playing their records.

Crazy Horse (band) American rock band

Crazy Horse is an American rock band best known for their association with Neil Young. Beginning in 1968 and continuing to the present day, they have been co-credited on a number of Young's albums, with 12 studio albums and numerous live albums being billed as by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. They have also released six studio albums of their own, issued between 1971 and 2009.

<i>Wattstax</i> 1973 American film

Wattstax was a benefit concert organized by Stax Records to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the 1965 riots in the African-American community of Watts, Los Angeles. The concert took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972. The concert's performers included all of Stax's prominent artists at the time. The genres of the songs performed included soul, gospel, R&B, blues, funk, and jazz. Months after the festival, Stax released a double LP of the concert's highlights, Wattstax: The Living Word. The concert was filmed by David L. Wolper's film crew and was made into the 1973 film titled Wattstax. The film was directed by Mel Stuart and nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Documentary Film in 1974.

Laff Records

Laff Records was a small American independent record label specializing in comedy and party records originating on the West Coast of the United States during the 1970s. Amongst their artists were Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, LaWanda Page, George Carlin, black ventriloquist duo Richard And Willie, Kip Addotta, Belle Barth, Rex Benson, and Skillet & Leroy.

<i>The Anthology (1968–1992)</i> 2002 compilation album by Richard Pryor

The Anthology (1968–1992) is a two-CD compilation distilling the best tracks from American comedian Richard Pryor's seven albums he recorded and/or released on Warner Bros. Records or its subsidiary Reprise, and is essentially the digest version of his 2000 nine-CD box set ...And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968–1992). Pryor and his wife/manager Jennifer Lee Pryor assisted in and authorized the compilation, which was produced by the same team responsible for the ...And It's Deep Too box set, Reggie Collins and Steve Pokorny.

Track Record was founded in 1966 in London by Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, then managers of the rock group The Who. It was one of the first British-owned independent record labels in the United Kingdom. The most successful artists whose work appeared on the Track label were The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Thunderclap Newman and Golden Earring. The label ceased operations in 1978 but was revived in 1999.

<i>...And Its Deep Too!</i> 2000 box set by Richard Pryor

...And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968–1992) is a compilation of all of Richard Pryor's recordings with Warner Bros. Records. It contains material recorded between 1968 and 1992 and was released in 2000 through Rhino Entertainment.

<i>That Niggers Crazy</i> 1974 live album by Richard Pryor

That Nigger's Crazy is the third album by American comedian Richard Pryor. It was recorded live at Don Cornelius' Soul Train nightclub in early 1974. The album's title was derived from a remark made by Pryor himself in Wattstax.

<i>L.A. Jail</i> 1976 live album by Richard Pryor

L.A. Jail is the seventh album by American comedian Richard Pryor, allegedly recorded live at P.J.'s in West Hollywood, California.

<i>Bicentennial Nigger</i> 1976 live album by Richard Pryor

Bicentennial Nigger is the sixth album by the American comedian Richard Pryor. David Banks produced the album, while Warner Bros. Records released the album in September 1976. It is often considered one of his most influential recordings. The CD version of the album was released on 20 June 1989. It won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

<i>The Archives Vol. 1 1963–1972</i> 2009 box set by Neil Young

Neil Young Archives Vol. 1: 1963–1972 is the first in a planned series of box sets of archival material by Canadian-American musician Neil Young. It was released on June 2, 2009 in three different formats - a set of 10 Blu-ray discs in order to present high resolution audio as well as accompanying visual documentation, a set of 10 DVDs and a more basic 8-CD set. Covering Young's early years with The Squires and Buffalo Springfield, it also includes various demos, outtakes and alternate versions of songs from his albums Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, and Harvest, as well as tracks he recorded with Crazy Horse and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young during this time. Also included in the set are several live discs, as well as a copy of the long out-of-print film Journey Through the Past, directed by Young in the early 1970s.

Wally Heider (1923–1989) was an American recording engineer and recording studio owner After a career as an engineer in the 1940s and 1950s, he was instrumental in recording the San Francisco Sound in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 albums were recorded in his studio including Volunteers by Jefferson Airplane, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere by Neil Young with Crazy Horse, Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Electric Warrior by T. Rex, Tupelo Honey by Van Morrison, American Beauty by the Grateful Dead, Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Amazing Grace by Aretha Franklin and Abraxas by Santana.

<i>Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 3</i> 1978 compilation album by Elvis Presley

Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 3 is a compilation album featuring recordings by American singer Elvis Presley. It was the third in a series of albums that began with Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1 in 1974, the first to be released since Presley's death in 1977, and the last edition until Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 4 in 1983. Following the format of the series, the album was a mixture of previously released recordings and tracks that, as of the date of this album's release, had never been issued on an official RCA album release. It was certified Gold in December, 1978 by the RIAA.

The Byrds were an American rock band that were formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964.

Groove Merchant was an American jazz and R&B record label during the 1970s. It was run by producer Sonny Lester and distributed by Pickwick Records. Notable artists included Chick Corea, O'Donel Levy, Buddy Rich, Jimmy McGriff, Lonnie Smith and Lionel Hampton. Lester would later close Groove Merchant and restructure it as Lester Radio Corporation, or LRC; TK Records were distributors for a period. Lester still retains the rights to the Groove Merchant/LRC back catalog and independently distributes them on compact disc.

<i>Craps (After Hours)</i> 1971 live album by Richard Pryor

Craps is the second album by American comedian Richard Pryor, released in 1971 on the Laff Records label. It was released during the comedian's transitional period from a middlebrow "Cosbyized" comic into a more improvisational, socially conscious, controversial brand of raw humor that Pryor would help to pioneer during the 1970s. Several monologues from the album were repeated for Pryor's debut concert film, Live & Smokin', although that film would be held from release until 1985 as a VHS videotape. Recorded at Redd Foxx's club in Hollywood, Pryor is introduced by the emcee as "the crown prince of comedy".

<i>Kabell Years: 1971–1979</i> 2004 compilation album by Wadada Leo Smith

Kabell Years: 1971–1979 is a four-CD box set released on Tzadik Records compiling American jazz trumpeter/composer/inmproviser Wadada Leo Smith's earliest albums which were originally released on his own, privately pressed label Kabell along with additional previously unissued material from the same era. The set includes the previously released material from Creative Music - 1, Reflectativity, Song of Humanity and Solo Music: Ahkreanvention.