August 3, 1983: an epic night at First Avenue

Before I start, I gotta thank my fellow Purple Knight for sending me this archive footage.

I’ll admit. Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a cynic mood, especially when it comes to things I love. Not much is progressing in my life so I’m left to muddle in the negative.
One of the greatest negatives, oddly, has been an attitude I’d been developing about Prince. I’d been so worried about how he’d react to my project about him that it’s hard to get back to. Plus, it’s been about narrowing down what’s worthy of discussing.

Tracks like “The One” from NewPower Soul, the different feel of the acoustic album “The Truth” and the source of various Crystal Ball tracks… whether they’re from the original playlist or b-sides/alternate versions/remixes of tracks from the “Slave” era… those are worth at least mentioning, but going beyond that. It’s hard to feel comfortable with the bare minimum, but I want to keep things positive. Therefore, I’m better off leaving the negative unexplored.
I don’t know… I think of Prince nowadays and I envision a person dead-set against recording contracts so I might never get a physical album to hold in my hands again… and a musician who I might never see in concert because he refuses to come to play on the East Coast. And I also think of someone who won’t allow his old music on YouTube, even if it’s by Sheila E., Morris Day or Vanity 6.

But anyway… it was really nice going back in time and pretending that this was a live show happening at this very moment.
Kinda funny say, as I was thinking initially, how I’d uncovered an ancient relic. If something that happened 30 years ago is ancient, what will I be in 2 more years? šŸ˜›

When I’m sent footage, I usually let it linger in my inbox until I need it and usually I lose it. Because this is one of my favorite eras of Prince’s career, which I jump at the chance when it literally appears, I knew I had to get to this tonight šŸ˜Ž

In a 75 minute show, he played 12 songs, some of which were Purple Rain tracks heard by the masses for the first time.

1. Let’s go crazy
2. When you were mine
3. A Case of you (Joni Mitchell cover)
4. Computer Blue
5. Delirious
6. Electric Intercourse
7. Little Red Corvette
8. Automatic
9. I would die 4 u
10. Baby I’m a star
11. Purple Rain
12. (encore) D.M.S.R.

after the first 4 tracks, I might be out of order a tiny bit, but whatever.
A good mix of Purple Rain and 1999 with one Dirty Mind track.

It’s pretty cool how we have the band together for the very first time with the addition of Wendy Melvoin. I had maybe one moment where I was thinking to myself “wow, her music with Lisa has become such a fixture in my life that I forgot they started here… and she did this fresh out of high school at the age of 19… what was I doing when I was 19?”… stuff like that.
Occasionally the camera would dart to one of the other members of the band. Mostly Wendy with some Brown Mark, then Bobby Z, Dr. Fink and Lisa in order from most to least.

Earlier today, I was listening to some Genesis and apparently, I’d been doing so a little too much because my fingertips were remembering a lot of the various rhythms rather well. The same happened during the Purple Rain numbers because some of it went into the actual album and I’d heard that hundreds of times. The 1999 tracks were fun to groove to, especially “Delirious” (practically made for that sort of thing), although “Automatic” threw me off a little bit… it’s been a while since I’d experienced its unhinged nature and that was a relatively short version compared to the album.

“Case of You” I didn’t recognize for some time until he actually started singing the chorus… I’d heard it most recently on The Voice by James Wolpert… he killed it and sometimes I kinda wish he’d made it to the finale. His album is one I’d probably get if it materialized.
Prince would later cover it on the “One Night Alone” album so when I get back to that, I have that to look forward to.

Then I lost it with “Computer Blue”… went absolutely mad for it. I don’t know what it is about it, but it just drives me insane with the amount of endorphins boiling under my flesh.

Was that too much?
it was a work in progress, obviously and I might have seen this particular part of the footage before. But yeah, it was freaking amazing.

In my head, I kept a mental tally of which songs were in existence at this time. A lot of them weren’t yet.
Darling Nikki might have been a year away from being created, as was Take me with You and When Doves Cry, both written for the music while it was in the process of being filmed.
Great to see how all these tracks started, although a lot of editing clearly went into the mix as well. And I don’t just mean adding the overdubs.

As Purple Rain itself, I’d seen that footage a couple of times before. This was the first time I’d gotten an emotional response from it. I was just thinking about the first time I heard it while watching the movie. Tears streaming down my face and being caught by my mom midst-breakdown šŸ˜› mainly it impacted me because everything fell into line with the recording so it just felt right.

How Prince managed to find something to be an encore to that, I have no idea… but he did good in that. Kinda dressed up in his Dirty Mind gear for a little dance/music/sex/romance, and proceeded to say goodbye half a dozen times before actually meaning it šŸ˜› what a tease.

Another thing I found interesting that I just noticed for the first time. Prince had said in interview that Bobby Z was a good drummer because he “watched him”. I didn’t fully comprehend that until just now. Every now and then, I’d seen Prince throw him visual cues, telling him more or less when to wrap up a song. Sometimes it’s subtle and I figure there are plenty of fake-outs. You really have to know each other well to establish that degree of communication without a hitch.

now “Electric Intercourse” is stuck in my head… it’s probably a while before Prince started dating Wendy’s sister so “The Beautiful Ones” might not have existed yet. I missed having that song in the mix, but I knew they couldn’t have both in the same set. It was fascinating too how he leveled off the insanity of “Automatic” with the spiritual “I would die 4 u”… a little something he did on the album, putting the backwards gospel voices after Darling Nikki.

On that note, I’ll end this entry here and I’ll see what the night’s sleep has waiting for me.

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