The Prophet

The Prophet

by Richard Harris


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The Prophet

On its surface, actor Richard Harris' set of orchestrated readings from Kahlil Gibran's 1923 spiritual classic seems like another attempt by a record label to cash in on the spiritual searching that flowered during the '70s from its bloom in the preceding decade. And on some level, it is exactly that; but it is also much more. Atlantic Records may have been trying to make a bank run from the book's popularity in the early part of the decade, but no one told the musicians or Harris that this was the case. Certainly not Arif Mardin, who composed and arranged the music, produced the session, and hired the players. Some of them include drummer Steve Gadd, guitarist Hugh McCracken, bassist Tony Conrad, and Phil Bodner on woodwinds (some of these players would appear on Mardin's own little-known classic jazz album Journey the following year). The session players fronted a complete orchestra and a chorus. Mardin was playing for keeps on The Prophet (check the tracks "Teaching and Self-Knowledge" and especially the CTI-worthy jazz funk in "On Pleasure" and "Theme from the Prophet"). Harris was perfect in the role of narrator -- though at times he actually sings with the chorus on refrains. He was dramatic enough to showcase the aphoristic text in its populist, spiritual, and philosophical instructional intent. Harris had scored a Grammy a year earlier for Best Spoken Word Performance for narrating Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The Prophet worked its way to number 29 on the Billboard charts and remained there for four months. Harris' performance borders on the overdramatic, but never quite gets there thanks to Mardin's focus and restraint. While this is not of the same caliber as David Axelrod's classic arrangements of William Blake's poems on Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, it is nonetheless in the same league. Mardin's music is, in all its lush variety, wonderfully sophisticated, exquisite in taste, and refined in its arrangement.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/19/1996
Label: Atlantic
UPC: 0075678149023
catalogNumber: 18120

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Richard Harris   Primary Artist,Vocals
Barry Manilow   Background Vocals
Phil Bodner   Woodwind
Bob James   Keyboards
Lucy Shelton   Background Vocals
Kenneth Bichel   Synthesizer,Keyboards,ARP
Steve Gadd   Drums
Armen Halburian   Percussion
Tony Levin   Bass
Arif Mardin   Conductor
Hugh McCracken   Guitar
Gene Orloff   Concert Master
Pat Rebillot   Keyboards
Allan Schwartzberg   Drums
David Smith   Background Vocals
Lou Volpe   Guitar
Tarik Bulut   Saz,Cymbals,Oud,finger cymbals
Arthur Burrows   Background Vocals
Kahlil Gibran   Track Performer
Peggy Hewett   Background Vocals
Yasmin Aga Khan   Background Vocals
Clyde Spooner   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Lewis Hahn   Engineer,Remixing
Arif Mardin   Arranger,Producer
Gene Paul   Engineer
Jerry Wexler   Executive Producer
John Walker   Reissue Producer
Bob Defrin   Art Direction
Youssef Howayek   Paintings
Ed Matthews   Executive Producer

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