Apr 252016
 

Damn, I’ve still got nothing… I was hoping someone would post a stirring tribute to Prince. I hope to share some thoughts at some point, but I need to do so from an enlightened perspective I’ve not yet reached.

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  13 Responses to “All-Star Jam: Prince Edition”

  1. OK. I’ll go first. I think Prince is the only artist other than the Beatles that coupled truly massive popularity and real musical experimentation in one package.

    For example I give you this from the Sheila E. record which sounds to be in several keys at once, harmolodic maybe? Oh, and hang in for the verse with a cello accompaniment. Truly out there.

    https://youtu.be/IqUFtTaexlQ

  2. misterioso

    I can’t hope to do justice to Prince here, nor to be the best qualified to do so. I mean, there are perhaps a couple dozen records I haven’t even heard! I wasn’t a fan in the halcyon days of Purple Rain, it took me longer to warm up to him. But I did around the time of Sign of the Times. Only saw him in concert once, at Radio City in 1994, I think. A tremendous experience. And he owns, hands down, the greatest, perhaps the only truly great Super Bowl performance in history. (Up with People being, of course, a close second.) What can I say? I’m bummed that the guy’s gone, he was a fascinating character, apart from anything else.

  3. A cursory and unsuccessful search of the RTH archives proved again my uselessness at online research. I was looking for a topic in which musical artists were rated on baseball’s “five tool” scale. (I forget RTH’s benchmarks but believe they were along the lines of songwriting, instrumental proficiency, vocal prowess, looks, and…?)

    I remember McCartney receiving acclaim as a five-tooler but can’t remember if Prince got any recognition. Certainly he would rate, no?

    aloha
    LD

  4. A friend just goaded me into sharing my thoughts on Prince – the musician, not the person who has sadly passed too soon – on a social media platform. Before those thoughts get picked up elsewhere, I owe it to you to share them here:

    OK, only for you guys, in this private place, because I know you know how kind and gentle I really am (the “wise” claim is, admittedly, open to question).

    Most importantly, I never liked his music – specifically, the way it sounds. His records epitomized so many ’80s production issues: bad synths, little to no bass guitar, drums that always sound like drum machines (whether any real drums are involved or not), hiccuping vocal affectations (a la ’80s Michael Jackson)…Did I say boatloads of bad synths and out-of-the-box processed drums? You know what’s funny? One of the Prince songs I like best is “When Doves Cry,” which has no bass whatsoever and electronic handclaps, or whatever that is that emphasizes certain beats. To me, that song most sounds like Sly and the Family Stone, the band I think Prince most wanted to be. The key difference, for me, may have been that Prince played just about all instruments himself, then put together humans to represent his rainbow band, whereas Sly actually mixed humans in the studio, actually bringing a rainbow of humanity into his recordings.

    You may already want to strangle me, but don’t think I don’t like any Prince SONGS, including those made hits by others. It’s just the sound of his own records – and their entire vibe – never moves me. I take that back, he did some song called “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” if memory serves, that gives me goosebumps. Usually, though, his records strike me as cold and self-absorbed, which is the same vibe I got from Prince’s overall persona. I’ve been feeling like a real dick, holding in this stuff, while the rest of the world (well, minus at least a couple of my bandmates) feels his loss.

    I used to love some Prince song called “Cream,” I believe, but that was mostly for a really hot part in the video, with a couple of woman writhing around between his legs, or something like that.

    The song “1999” is pretty good, but even better is Madonna’s “LIke a Virgin.” I don’t know which one came out first, but I always figured one was influenced by the other. Madonna made lots of hot videos in her time, which helped me like a couple of her songs more than I otherwise might have.

    Here’s my final admission, for now: I know people are going on over Prince’s guitar skills – and I don’t deny that he was a brilliant and talented musician. However – and this goes back to my tastes in sounds – I HATED his guitar tone. His funky rhythm parts aside, I associate his lead guitar sound with that of Eddie Van Halen, what a friend of mine dubbed as the Sam Ash Sound. It’s all smashed and squealy and neon sounding to my ears. And he played lots of showy notes that I couldn’t whistle back to anyone. Yuck! Give me Hendrix, Fripp, Verlaine and Lloyd, etc.

    There it is. I can’t recall the last artist who was so beloved whose work I could not feel in any way. My apologies to Fritz, in particular, for coming clean with these thoughts.

  5. Random thoughts about Prince from a Twin Cities native:

    I nearly ran smack into him at the Minneapolis airport once — he really was only 5’2″! With big bodyguards!

    I was at the 7th Street Entry watching a band called Figures on a Beach during the time Prince was filming Purple Rain in the First Avenue main room, which was closed for like 2 months straight as I recall. You could hear Prince and the band perform through the wall. When First Avenue reopened, the lighting and stage in the main room were vastly improved.

    At the time, I didn’t get the fuss over Purple Rain movie — it was cool to see parts of the Twin Cities on the big screen, but I thought the acting was stilted and the story kind of boring.

    I got into a rare argument with a girlfriend who didn’t want to dance to “1999” at a college house party.

    A guy I knew in college played keyboards once in awhile for the local R&B band Flyte Tyme, which became The Time, and he knew Prince. Early on it seemed to be a very fluid band . . . and they seemed to have lost his number when they got big.

    My two favorite Prince songs are:
    I Wanna Be Your Lover
    Sign ‘O’ the Times

  6. Assorted thoughts –

    * why am I not surprised by Mr. Mod’s comments?
    * thanks, Geo, for the listen to Oliver’s House. You first brought that to my attention more years ago than seems possible (32 years!) and I haven’t heard it in far too many as well.
    * was there ever an artist more in need of an editor? I read the other day that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of unreleased songs in the vault. I shudder to think what his heirs will inflict on the world. Maybe if we are lucky, since he died intestate, that will be delayed to after I’m gone as well.

  7. Has anyone else been stunned by the level of attention Prince’s death has received? Not that it shouldn’t be a big deal but I wouldn’t have predicted that it would be this big. Even The New Yorker dedicated a cover to it. It seems to me that this is a bigger media spectacle than David Bowie and I was floored by that.

    I just returned from 10 days in New Orleans. A music filled vacation with the Jazz & Blues Fest and 3 days in cajun country. There were a lotta, lotta Prince tributes at the Fest.

    There was Lennon and Sinatra and Michael Jackson and now these two. I can’t think of any other musical deaths at this level.

    Who is left to receive this kind of attention when they die? McCartney and Dylan for sure. Would Jagger warrant this?

  8. Jazzfest — never been but I’d sure like to go . . . nice.

    I have to admit, I was surprised at all the Prince coverage at first, but when you think about the demographic of writers, editors, and social media types right now — this is way more in their wheelhouse than Bowie, Haggard, or Frey.

    Somebody said that Michael Jackson and Prince were the type of guys who were not meant to get old, and that’s a key to the coverage too. Die (relatively) young, stay pretty. When Jagger et al give up the ghost at ripe old ages, it will be a big deal, but not as gut-wrenching as this for a big swath of people.

    I also think that people are digging into the Prince catalog and getting kind of blown away by all the good stuff — both the hits, familiar tracks, and more obscure stuff.

    I’ve been cranking up some old faves — When You Were Mine, Let’s Pretend We’re Married, Controversy, Partyup, I Would Die 4 U — and someone reminded me of the club staple Erotic City, which is just sick.

    Prince was on a bit of comeback with the Baltimore activism, a nice new band, a good record last year by a protege Judith Hill, and his shocking death hits a lot people pretty hard.

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    I don’t know an entire album of his, but I enjoy so many of his songs. The man’s music was out everywhere. I wish I could come up with a good metaphor: I was thinking of “purple perfume wafting through…” but gave up on that purple prose.

    The man, his music and his lifestyle made a huge impact beyond his music: “The Artist Formerly Known As…” is a phrase that can be completed by folks of multiple generations, his use of glyphs, his Purpleness. I think he was under appreciated as a dancer. His ability to dance in heels rivals Ginger Rogers!

    I can’t say I was a big fan, but I enjoyed much of his music. I can say that “Under The Cherry Moon” is an atrocious movie, and one of the few I’ve ever turned off mid-way through. And “Purple Rain” is a better soundtrack than movie.

  10. BigSteve

    It goes without saying that the Mod is misguided, offbase, all wet, mostly just wrong when it comes to Prince.

  11. misterioso

    Agreed. He makes some valid points (like about the drum problem on many Prince records) but much of this critique calls to mind the emperor’s take on Mozart in Amadeus: “too many notes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCud8H7z7vU

  12. mockcarr

    I’ve got your back regarding his sound, Mod. I don’t think much of his lyrics either, even something seemingly innocuous like 1999 cites the year 200,000 as when they’re out of time. So perhaps we should have been partying like it’s 199,999.

  13. From the Mpls. StarTribune — wow!

    Prince sold what Billboard called “a staggering” 4.41 million albums from the day after his April 21 death to the chart cutoff day last Thursday.

    By comparison, David Bowie racked up 308,000 in U.S. album sales in the four days after his Jan. 10 passing. Michael Jackson sold 422,000 in the week after his death on June 25, 2009.

    Prince’s “Very Best Of” alone sold 391,000 copies, according to Nielsen Music figures — and he had 18 more albums make the Billboard 200 chart. These figures include both physical and digital (download) sales.

 
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