Album #29: “Roulette Girl” — Mary Prankster (1999)
You’re going to hear a lot about Mary Prankster before this countdown is done. The non de plume of a singer/songwriter from Baltimore, Mary Prankster tore a path up and down the east coast over an eight year period, leaving new fans and broken hearts in the wake of her Catholic-Girl-gone-bad persona as she attempted to break into the big time. The self-proclaimed “Queen of Cow-Punk,” Mary put out three near-perfect studio albums before calling it quits in 2004 with a live recording of her final concert.
For sheer word play and song-writing craft, I would put her up with Lennon/McCartney. Yes, I just wrote that. Unfortunately for her, Mary Prankster’s expletive-filled lyrics kept most of her brilliant stuff off the radio, and the ditties she tailored for the mainstream never got farther than college radio and local support on WHFS. It also didn’t help that songs she blew the roof off with in live shows didn’t have the same impact on CD. She was so unhappy with production problems (and her contract and the ever-rotating roster of bandmates), she eventually formed her own label; yet even with complete creative control, her recordings never matched her amazing voice.
All I know is that, the last time my wife and I saw her live, sitting in the back of a tiny club in Carrboro, Maura leaned over and said to me: “Look. You can see the whole bar falling in love with her.” Mary Prankster’s fans were amazingly loyal — you didn’t find her stuff on file sharing sites, and only some of the songs from her second record, “Roulette Girl,” are available on youtube. Here are two: