Thumbnail Filmstrip of The Prison LP Images
The Prison: A Book with a Sound Track
The remaining copies of the original Pacific Arts release of The Prison from 1974 (PAC-101) have been kept at the Videoranch offices in the safety of their shrink wrap.
The box set has that 40-year-old record smell combined with 40-year-old book smell -- a rare and beautiful experience only outdone by the book with a sound track experience itself. The box itself is embossed with gold titles. Because this is the original release, our supplies are limited -- and once we sell out, there's no possibility of restock. Undoubtedly the coolest item available in our store (or on the Internet).
"Art is not mere portrayal of an event -- even though some events can be portrayed artistically. Art is an event in itself. It is the change of consciousness which occurs that is signal. This movement of thought is the cause, not the result of the work before of us. So it is with 'The Prison.'"
-Introduction, The Prison: A Book with a Sound Track
For those unfamiliar with the art form, a book with a sound track is a medium of expression Nez introduced in 1974 with the release of The Prison. In his live performances of the work and his interviews from the time, he explained that the idea was inspired by his own personal habits. He often soundtracked books in his mind like films are soundtracked on screen. Well, why not do that? Why not make a sound track for the film created in our mind while reading a book? So he did. There's more going on than that but -- that comes after you've listen/read a few times.
The Pacific Arts LP box set is the only way to access the original mix of the sound track, recorded September 15-20, 1974, in Los Angeles. The music rests in a lovely stylistic valley between Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash and From A Radio Engine To The Photon Wing -- Nez on acoustic guitar and Roland Rhythm 77, Red Rhodes on pedal steel. There's understated synth. There's also congas and a choir of yogis. Nez has reworked the album a record-book billion times but the original captures something that can only be caught once. Plus, the richness of vinyl compared to CD or digital can never be denied.
The LP-sized book can make the book with a sound track activity more immersive and run more smoothly with its larger print. The full-page, color images afford greater detail of the delightful artwork by the kindergarten class of La Mesa School. For those looking to expand their horizons, the Pacific Arts release features a complete French translation of the introduction, narrative, and lyrics, that sits to the left of the English.
The Prison was Nez's first dip into the invention of new multimedia forms. After combining books with records, he would go on to more famously combine music with video (Rio, PopClips, Elephant Parts). Then stand-up with video (Television Parts). Then magazines with VHS (OverView). Then novel with HTML (The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora). Then live concerts with virtual worlds (VR3D). Then whatever Movies of the Mind is -- consciousness with music??
If you are a fan of the CD or digital releases, the vinyl is a must-read/listen and a priceless necessity for any Nezhead. Order yours while they're still available!
Speaking of ordering, check out this advertisement from 1974 -- complete with a Nez Word. You can tell he did things himself back then. (concomitant adj 1. naturally accompanying or associated ... if you were wondering!) Imagine getting a book and a record for only $8.73! You can't even get a soy latte and a pastry for that much these days.
How clever that the advertisement doubled as an order form, too. Did you know that Carmel only has P.O. Boxes? There's no mail delivery to the houses or businesses. Many of the homes don't even have addresses! Instead they have names like they're fancy English manors. To learn more about the recording, release, and distribution of The Prison, as well as the beginning of Pacific Arts, pick up a copy of Infinite Tuesday: An Autobiographical Riff -- available through Videoranch!
Some words from Nez about The Prison in a piece from August 2009:
"The Prison came about through a series of events that started in the 1960's. At that time the LP (Long Playing) record was typically released in a cardboard jacket with artwork and text that usually described the music in some way. When I would buy a new LP I would sit down to listen and at the same time read the album jacket - the liner notes - for information about the work. It was mostly technical information, who the players were, where it was recorded, and occasionally reviews from music critics; in some cases there were notes from the artists as to the intent of the work, and so on.
I enjoyed reading and listening and found myself many times putting on music just simply to accompany a book I was reading. The more I did this the more I thought it might make an interesting experience if the elements of reading and listening were thought of from inception as a combined form.I had been working on a few melodies at the time the idea occurred so I swept everything together with the idea of writing a short story that could be accompanied by music, or book with a soundtrack.
I chose a simple story that I thought would be familiar and comfortable and began to write the lyrics and style of the music to follow along loosely. There was no effort to synchronize the two media, only to generally align the spirit of the two form's content to see if they would create a single experience. I was pleased to discover that they did and so pushed ahead with producing 'The Prison.'I was happy with the result, and even happier to discover that the ideas expressed in the story had a direct relation to the experience one had as the two media joined in thought --in the mind's eye as it were. Over the years, as the work matured, I began to notice some things that did not sit right with me. They were technical for the most part - a missing line of musical arrangements, or a clumsily stated thought in the book - so I exercised the author's prerogative to revise the work. While the original LP and Book package is still available from the archives as a collector's item, 'The Prison' that is available now is a fully revised version of the original, and it satisfies even more my original intention for the piece.
All songs by Michael Nesmith.
1. "Opening Theme (Life, the Unsuspecting Captive)" - 3:31
2. "Dance Between the Raindrops" - 6:47
3. "Elusive Ragings" - 5:11
4. "Waking Mystery" - 7:36
1. "Hear Me, Calling" - 4:51
2. "Marie's Theme" - 11:51
3. "Closing Theme (Lampost)" - 9:23