January 19, 2018

It Takes Years To Get Here; The Prayer Chain's Top 25 songs

Considering how long I have been blogging (this is year 15), it is surprising how little I have written about The Prayer Chain. They are one of my favorite bands of all time, but they broke up at the end of 1995.

The most thorough post I have done on the band is about the 20th Anniversary of Mercury and the alter-ego Cush, which last released an EP around that same time. And then I wrote quite a bit about the band in my best of 1995 post, which of course included the release of Mercury, but also me seeing them perform in Birmingham and working their merch table (footage of the show at the Crush Warehouse is incredibly online, and I show up in the video a few times at the end.)

They did play the occasional show from 1996-2003, but have been inactive since. Well, mostly. Three-quarters of the band (Tim, Andy, Eric, but no Wayne) did perform as Cush and play two Prayer Chain songs in 2015. Here is the title track from Mercury, and they also played "Chalk":



Anyway, "it takes years to get here." 2018 brings the first true Prayer Chain concerts with all four members since 2003. I actually think I was at the last real Prayer Chain show, which was in August 2003 at Flevo Festival in the Netherlands (great video of that show here).

The 25th Anniversary of Shawl has thankfully been embraced by the band with a Kickstarter to release the album on vinyl for the first time, and for two shows in California and Tennessee. They have already reached the first "stretch goal" of $27K to add the Nashville snow, and the next stretch goal of $30K is to ensure the shows are recorded professionally and released. Support that now if you would like to own Shawl (and Mercury) on vinyl and/or see one of these shows:


With the Kickstarter and the active social media presence of the band, I have been listening to The Prayer Chain a ton over the first few weeks of 2018. Mercury is by far my favorite thing the band ever created, and I listen to it frequently. However, I don't think I had listened to Shawl or any of the other releases straight through for maybe a decade.

But as I re-listened to everything, I decided to add The Prayer Chain to my growing lists of artists I have written top 25 song posts about (here is a list). The other added inspiration to make a list was my discovery of PlayMoss, which I wrote about yesterday. I love Bandcamp, all of The Prayer Chain's discography is on Bandcamp (except Shawl, but hopefully it will be added), and PlayMoss makes Bandcamp playlists (!).

Another feature of PlayMoss is that you can make playlists that include songs from a variety of sources, including YouTube. YouTube was clearly the next best option for including the missing Shawl songs, as there are many fun live performances on YouTube.

Because The Prayer Chain only released two LPs, the majority of their best tracks are from them of course (the first 12 songs below are from either Mercury or Shawl.) Honestly I had a hard time not including all 10 songs from Mercury. But there are still some fascinating and great other Prayer Chain songs out there, either outtakes from Humb/Mercury or older standout tracks and demos.

Here are my top 25 Prayer Chain songs in the order I prefer them. What did I leave out? I already know the band will say "Grin", which was a song they performed in most of their shows, but one I never enjoyed that much. It is much better live though, and if you need to hear it, this is a great live "Grin" recording.


As I outlined in my last post, PlayMoss is new to me, and this is only my second playlist using the service. And it is the first using a combination of Bandcamp and YouTube sources. Feedback on functionality or problems is appreciated.

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