Prince Album #10: The Black Album

So here we are… the notorious Black Album.

Matt Thorne’s coverage on this album was minimal- I think only 6-7 pages. Which left very little room for him to annoy me as he typically does.
He talked about the Sign o’ the times movie and how the first thing Prince did when Paisley Park was completed was reshoot and re-record stuff for it because he was dissatisfied with the quality of the video shot in Europe (notably in Holland).
Prince never toured the US for this period and stayed within Europe. Alan Leeds was quoted saying he thought this was a mistake and he didn’t want to say there was backlash, but there might have been one that he didn’t engage with the American audience.
And there were a few passages saying odd things about Prince that, considering what period we were about to embark in, didn’t sound like it was too crazy. At least it didn’t sound like he was being the usual harsh critic.
What I got out of it was that Prince was struggling with superstardom and trying to comprehend that and keeping pace with it.

A few other factors that also come into this that I know about already… there was talk from people saying how Prince abandoned his black audience to pursue the white rock audience and this album was an attempt to win them back. [Maybe it’s because I’m white, but I never understood why this was such a big deal. It’s not as if Prince gave up the funk. It just wasn’t as upfront as it was with Dirty Mind and Controversy].
I also know that Prince started to become aware of hip-hop at that time and he was convinced that it was a fad rather than a new direction of music that he wasn’t at the cutting edge of. He hated it with a burning passion.
Whoever said it on that Mica Paris BBC Radio Prince documentary- he didn’t like how people that couldn’t sing manufactured beats from machines instead of playing real instruments, so he thought they were cheating.

Recently, I read it somewhere. Someone close to him said of this time period that Prince didn’t like hip-hop because it didn’t make him feel anything the way music does. Just because it isn’t accomplished with real instruments.
That part I can understand for sure. Not just because I personally don’t like rap or hip-hop all that much. But Prince lives and breathes music. It gives him life. So a “cheap imitation” wouldn’t stimulate him in that same way.

So how this album came about… well, it wasn’t meant to be an album. It was just a collection of songs he was working on at the time. Some were reflective of the mood he was in (and he was very moody about that damn hip-hop). Some were for a birthday party he was throwing for Sheila E.
The previous album was so serious he wanted to work on some funky party music. Taking everything in account, I think he wanted to also because he was maybe stressing about some things and this was a way to escape that. That’s something all of us need every now and then.

There are a number of theories about why Prince decided not to release this album. In my mind, I’ve concocted theories that could have followed the Ecstasy “rumors” told to Dr. Fink by one of Prince’s bodyguards or they could have just about the negative tone of some of the songs and he didn’t want that to be the last impression he left behind.
[He definitely left us with a high note with HitNRun Part 2… I only listened to it once ever and it was the day I got it]
Whatever the real story is, it’s not going to change anything. I’m going to understand and accept it.

The first time I played it, I did so after playing Dirty Mind and Controversy back to back, so I could set the mood. And it was the perfect move. I absolutely would recommend it to anyone.

Listening to the album today… maybe it’s the history of it, but there’s something off about it. Other than “When 2 R in Love” and “Rockhard in a Funky Place,” none of the other songs had vocals from Prince where I had that familiarity [other than maybe his signature scream a couple of times in “Superfunkycalifragisexy”]. There’s this mysterious spooky energy surrounding it.

The one impression I’ll put in for today’s posting… 2 Nigs United for West Compton is by far… I don’t want to say worst… but the most skippable for me. Yet I never bother to skip it even when it feels senseless and pointless. To me, it’s a jam session without any real melody to it. Prince is goofing around with the Fairlight and synths stabs. Sheila E is doing her thing with the drums. It sounds like a runaway freight train on a journey to nowhere.
Matt Thorne said some things about this track I’m too lazy to look up at the moment, but he had his own way of saying how it wasn’t great and I completely agreed.

If this album didn’t have that mystique and taboo thing going for it… would it really stand out in Prince’s catalog at all?
“Rockhard in a funky place” is a fan favorite and “Bob George” is a huge stand-out for a number of reasons. But all the other tracks, how do they stack up against all the other funk tracks Prince has done over the years?

…I think that’s the whole point of this post, finding the answer to that.
I’ll preface it by saying this is one of those albums I don’t typically listen to a lot. But when I pick up for the first time in a while, it does impress me a bit.


Day 2… and had another one of those days at work where I question myself and hope I’m doing things to the best of my ability or doing enough to contribute. That’s what happens when I only have 3 main tasks to worry about.

Anyway- having this album waiting for me was pretty awesome. I can just let my mind go with while I try to dissect what all the instruments are, trying to connect the songs to others Prince had written. Then after a while, I lost myself in the sheer craziness of it all.

And this album is freaking insane- in that it kinda plays mind games with you.
I’ve said a few times in recent months how my brain’s energy waves feel like they’re on a different wavelength when I listen to him.
But the lyrical content and the various nuances found in the music- to quote a song recorded a bit later in his career, “this isn’t music… this a trip.”
Some songs more than others, of course.

“Le Grind” kicks things off in that respect from the first few notes of the backing beat. Beside the drums, I’m pretty sure the gurgling and all those sounds that sound like they were recorded underwater was accomplished with the Fairlight. The mere quality of it already feels like a trip– couple that with the really deep voice he uses to introduce the song and the entire album.
This is the first time I’m actually seeing the words myself.

“So U found me
Good, I’m glad
This is Prince
The cool of cools
Some of U may not know this
But some of U may know
Some of U may not want 2 know
We r here 2 do service
Please don’t try 2 stop us
4 we come regardless
4 we r strong as we r intelligent
So come vibe with us
Welcome to the Funk Bible
The new testament”

I heard as far as “this is Prince” and a lot of nothing and then “the Funk Bible, the new testament”

I have no idea what kind of accent Prince is trying to do with his voice in this song, but it’s just weird. I know Prince is weird, but for even him, it’s out of character.
And since when he is the one who invents the new dances? That schtick is Morris Day’s thing.

The beat continues through the track in the background. We have our lead horn line that chimes in every now and then- it’s one of the cooler aspects.
The crowd aspect (getting a little ahead of myself with this) that comes past the halfway point when Prince says “Slammin” the second time and someone says “Serve it up, Frankie!”… that’s what immediately connects this to the opening track of “Lovesexy.”
Before that, I was thinking how this kinda feels like a “Dance Music Sex Romance” type jam where everyone gets together and parties. Only this time, there’s an actual dance involved.
And that’s basically it… it’s a good way to introduce the concept of the album, but there isn’t a lot to it. The beat, with all of the aspects in its make-up, it feels fairly basic.

“Cindy C”- this is one of those sing-along tracks I like getting behind whenever it comes on. Such a catchy chorus. It also has a story I can get behind… although it’s another oddball addition to an already oddball type album. It’s supposedly inspired by an encounter Prince had with Cindy Crawford, the famed supermodel and she blew him off and this is about it. The oddball thing is that he’s painting this girl as if she’s a prostitute. “I will pay the usual fee.” [whenever I see Raymour & Flanigan commercials advertising Cindy Crawford home collection, I always pick and say “Cindy C!”
It starts very playful, but as time goes on, Prince gets more serious and more twisted and more unbalanced. Like he loses his mind.
Sheila E features prominently as the percussionist (with some great solos) and also backing vocals.
Then Cat raps a rap that Prince apparently didn’t know was by someone else. But these past few times I’d dared myself to nail it. I remembered a good amount of it yesterday, but was a little clumsy.
Today, except for one or two words, I freaking nailed it and it was awesome.
I have no idea what it all means- but it’s just fun to say. Especially when you hit it just right.

“Dead on it”… oh boy…
yeah, this is Prince trying to be like Run-DMC and all those guys doing the hip-hop.
he kinda nails it, but at the same time… these are among the stupidest lyrics he’s ever written. The same guy who wrote (sorry for being so clichΓ©) Purple Rain wrote lyrics for this like “all the sisters like it when you lick ’em on the knees”
…I like some of the lyrics, but not all of them are super brilliant.
If you take it as a parody, it’s perfectly fine. But I’m pretty sure Prince’s intention for it was serious- seriously wanting to prove how hip-hop is a fad that was never going to catch on.
With the music, it’s mostly Fairlight with Prince doing some rhythm guitar.
I guess you could say this is one of those “so bad it’s good” type of deals, but it feels mostly bad and not so much good.

“When 2 R in Love”… considering this song is on both of these albums, I really hope I don’t get sick of this one. Because I quite like it.
I knew nothing about this song’s existence until someone gifted me a download of this album. I was aware of “Le Grind” and “Superfunkycalifragisexy” from that BBC radio documentary.
This was a complete surprise and it was nice getting this breather on the album. Something to go away from the dark funky stuff. Prince kinda did the When Doves Cry treatment here- no bass line. Although I think I heard some stand-up bass. Mostly, it’s a lot of empty space, some live drums, keyboards and vocals.
I kinda want to say it falls right between “The Arms of Orion” and “Scandalous”- the two ballads on the Batman soundtrack. The moments with the strings and such bring the first to mind and of course the drums and the falsetto make it feel like a precursor to that beloved ballad.
The concept is fairly straight forward with the occasional Prince touch of innuendo and figurative language.
This is the type of ballad where my mind just wanders and goes to another place.

“Bob George”… it’s hard to decide sometimes if this or the next song is the trippiest on this album. But this song is like it’s from another world… a very dark underworld.
My mind gets completely absorbed into this that I have to remind myself every now and then to breathe πŸ˜›
a dark distorted vocal from Prince being absolutely gangsta. a little electric guitar that makes its presence known a couple times. But mostly, it’s the Fairlight creating the beat and the atmosphere.
you sucked into this story and your hairs stand on end.
supposedly this was Prince trying to get back at a couple of people he felt wronged him. I don’t know what Bob Cavallo (one of his managers) did, but Nelson George (a journalist) did have some mean things to say about him.
Or he was just trying to take out everybody who criticized him in one fell swoop.

“Superfunkycalifragisexy”… anyone who came up with that title… either there are screws loose or they were on something. I’d hate to go there, but this song just gets out of hand after a while.
There’s talk about this drug “squirrel meat” that makes you very horny and all kinds of S&M happens in the lyrics. Halfway through, it gets very awkward to listen to. I can handle “Do me baby” and “Insatiable” where everything’s handled beautifully and it’s kinda romantic.
Here, it doesn’t sound the sex is enjoyable. Not for the girl anyway. It doesn’t make me comfortable, let’s put it that way.
I do like the beat and the occasional Prince screams. But it wears out its welcome after a while.

I already did my piece about the instrumental. There is something of a structure to it. There are at least 4, maybe 5 different sections. But it’s basically a jam session that doesn’t grab me. If it had some sort of melody to it, it’d be a different story.

“Rockhard in a funky place”… oddly, on this album, it’s the lesser of a couple evils. This one has some uncomfortable lyrics. Dude comes to a party and there’s so many hot girls there that it’s impossible to contain himself.
Then at the end, Camille’s like “I just hate to see an erection go to waste” and the instrumental at the end tells you all you need to know.
But the past few times, I’ve been able to gloss over the lyrics and focus on the music, which is Prince and Eric Leeds.
I hadn’t liked it maybe ever because of the lyrics, but since putting the Camille album together with all the tracks I had lying around, I’m starting to come around.

I also like it a lot more when it doesn’t come after that instrumental track. I’m so over this album after getting through it that this last song isn’t enough to redeem it all as a whole.

I got through a little more than half an hour of Peach & Black. The first three tracks.
Captain loved the first two so much that he was 55/45 on them. Then pretty much said everything fell flat when it got to track 3.
One of our notorious divisions of the panel occurred on it and as if often the case, it’s Captain & Player against, Toejam & MC pro. MC had another of those epiphany type moments like he did with “The Cross” where he listened to it a little while before recording the podcast and found something in it that he hadn’t before.
Granted, it wasn’t this long crazy rant like he’d done with “Still Waiting” or “The Cross” or “Annie Christian” but he did have some things to say about it I kinda agreed with.

Even funnier because Captain started trashing the song and I was ready to defend it… 5 seconds later, I’m like “wait a minute, what am I doing?”
I think there’s something in me that just does this with Prince music. Even if it’s a song I’m fairly neutral about, I feel like a lot of them are so good that I had to see anything really talked down to.
But then again, I also flip out when people don’t like tracks I freaking love.
I’m so weird πŸ˜› but if you’d been following along with me going through these Prince albums, you know this.

…now that I think about it, I don’t know if there’s anything I can add, so I might end this for today and continue on tomorrow.

I have no other music in my car other than this album and the radio. So these next few days, I’ll be listening to little by little of the album in the morning (after I get the traffic report) and in the afternoon (same thing- plus to stretch out the podcast further).

I enjoyed Le Grind a lot this morning. Maybe not to the point of these last few goes with Housequake. It’s trying to recapture that, but it doesn’t quite get there. If, like Toejam said, the music could be remixed, it could be even better. I’d get rid of the gurgling underwater backing beat and bring the horn line forward because that’s a highlight for sure.
In the afternoon, I did the next two. And I don’t think I got fully invested in either. [The fact I had to pull over because the cars wouldn’t led me merge onto the highway despite the fact my damn blinker was on… it put me on edge and was still shaking that off].

So I got back to the podcast and they were finishing up the “Dead on it” discussion.
Like Le Grind, it is highly quotable and has a lot of potential, but doesn’t quite get there. The first for other reasons and this one… I just don’t like all that much when Prince raps. Or in this case, trying to be something he isn’t- when he isn’t very convincing. It is meant to be a parody, but I… I don’t know what I’m saying. I prefer Prince when he’s being genuine, okay?

“When 2 R in Love” spawned a couple of conversations that were so intriguing and fascinating… I wouldn’t have turned my laptop on at all today if I didn’t have these tangents to follow.

Never mind the whole discussion about how this song is on two albums- but that is worth mentioning after I make these other points.

Two things:
First- MC said to imagine if this album was released and how Prince loves ballads and this could have possibly have been the single. And think about all the people who would have bought this album for that song and the reaction they’d have to the album where none of the songs are anything like it.
…all kinds of crazy would happen, that’s what. Some people would have dug it, I think, but it would have alienated others too.
Second- someone asked if Prince had any idea when he withdrew this album that it would create the bootleg legacy his career has. After this happened and several people wound up getting the album anyway through those means, they started looking into his past and found about Crystal Ball and Dream Factory and all the tracks he’d written over the years, but never officially released on an album.

I was totally against owning any bootlegs when I started all this because he didn’t approve of them. But sure enough, people kept sending them to me and I had no choice but to acknowledge that treasure trove of music.
So at some point… I will have to do a post exclusively on bootlegs. Particularly which of the ones I have are ones I couldn’t dream of being without.
I hadn’t done that yet, so that could be something special. Assuming by that point, I’ve compiled enough to talk about.

Back to When 2 R in Love- I think Captain called it a “poor little orphan” that just never belonged anywhere. The guys said how they’re so used to hearing it on LoveSexy that it’s weird hearing it here.
…speaking from personal experience, I had this album at least 4 months, probably more, before I got LoveSexy (or to be more accurate, I agreed to take my fellow purple knight on his offer to gift it to me– the physical CD and he snuck The Rainbow Children in there as well… I’m pretty sure that I will never see a physical copy of The Black Album in person).
Anyway- I know this track as the odd man out, but I think I feel this track more on this album.
Although I will have some good things to say about it on my LoveSexy review.
Player had some nice things to say about it, so I’m excited to get the full story from him on that podcast.

Bob George- the guys went all out and loved the hell out of this one. Everything about it. The voice (which apparently was heard previously on a Brown Mark Prince-produced track), the lyrics, the “death laser” (always good when Captain says it so epically).
Easily one of the most quotable songs on the album.
with this song, I don’t know, I like it a lot, but something about it just creeps me out. when Prince said this album was evil, it had to have come from this character and this song. If anything’s proof of that, it’s how he uses it in the LoveSexy shows.
I know it’s a fictional story and all that, but it makes me wonder- what was Prince’s exact mindset- when he wrote it and when he performed it… even if he was alive and I could physically ask him, he wouldn’t tell simply because we’re talking more than 30 years ago and he doesn’t like looking back. I’m sure this is a period in his life he’d rather have forgotten, even if it took him to some of the good places he wound up going.
More than ever before, I’m really thinking that the fame from Purple Rain got to him so much by this point that he really needed to have whatever crisis that happened in order to rebuild and press forward with clearer focus.

Whoa, that got deep…

Superfunkycalifragisexy- we had those deep moments on previous tracks.
This had one of those classic Peach & Black moments. I’d been waiting for this one in particular and it finally happened- well, going chronologically through the albums, it’s the first time it happened.
Toejam was giving his review, kept talking, then Captain tried to butt in and finally got to say “Toejam, stop reading my notes.” He kept going and I thought I heard a voice crack when he laughed “stop reading them!” To my memory, this was one of 2 or 3 occasions where that happened. At least the podcasts I’d heard once already.
I think Player went first and his review and Toejam’s, I wholeheartedly agreed with. Toejam said it was most skippable (aside from When 2 R in Love- I don’t get why that would be) and Player said that it got long after a while.
I’ve made my thoughts on this song pretty clear as it is.
I think someone made a comment about the beat being the same as Housequake, but sped up and Shockadelica did the same with it slowed down. It’s an interesting concept. Using the same beat for three songs, but at different speeds.
One of these days, I should listen to all three in sequence and see if I pick that up. I don’t know Shockadelica quite enough to do, but hearing this one, I get it.
Someone also said that it’s like Automatic, but taken to a crazy other level. I totally get that as well.
Overall, the track is good. I would just take out one or two backing vocals and just eliminate the part later in the track with all the sex noises and the girl in question saying “ow!” like the sex hurts or is uncomfortable or… just something else I don’t want to even go into.

Prince is all about sex in his music. That much is clear and I’m quite aware of this and I honestly don’t mind it. But it needs to be handled the right way. Where it feels like it’s an art form or, plain and simple, it’s a turn-on.
If it isn’t pleasurable for both parties, that’s when I take issue. I think I hated “Extralovable” for the same reason. That’s why I deleted every version of it that I had. [The version that was eventually released on one of the HitNRun albums had the controversial bits removed- to align with Prince’s current spiritual beliefs].

And this post still seems to be a respectable length, which is great. After the last album (that I had to split into multiple entries), this feels nice. And I feel like a lot of good material has come through.
I guess the question that’ll be answered at the end of this post– what’s more interesting about The Black Album: the music or all the mystery and questions that it raises?

I should probably tweet that out: that sums this up perfectly.
All right- can’t wait for the weekend, just one more day.

Weekend’s here and I think I’ll finish the podcast before entering my final thoughts on it.
I’ll give it a listen tomorrow night and then… maybe I should do it tonight so that’s out of the way… although I did listen to a bunch of them today too…

Podcast first, comments second.

I almost hate to say it, but this was a phrase that was thrown around at .org at Prince fans that thought Prince could do no wrong…
when MC was summing up this album and talking about what he might rate it even though he’d retired from rating them, I was just thinking “he’s gotta be drinking the purple Kool-Aid on this one”…
I’m not dissing the album by any means or Prince for that matter. I just don’t think I’m going to sing its praises. He hadn’t listened to it for a while and it blew his brain when he put it back on rotation to gear up for the podcast. So I think maybe he spent too much time with it. Or maybe should compare it to some other albums and might not like it as nearly as much.

The other guys- two 8’s and a 7. Player gave it a 7, saying the drawback is how it’s mixed and it could have been improved and remastered. Which led to the question why it wasn’t remastered when it was officially released in 1994. Of course the answer was he wanted to get out of his record contract so badly that he agreed to let this one go.

As for the last two songs-
Toejam made the comment, again, how he wished the songs were mixed better. He would have tinkered around with “2 nigs united for west Compton”
I agree that could have helped improve on the song and I’d be curious to hear it.
But in its current state, it doesn’t offer me much of anything. Hearing the podcast again, I remember how I balked at all the guys agreeing it was super funky and they liked it.
The funk can’t be denied- I just don’t get it.
And the last song got praises and some slightly awkward moment from what the song is about. MC talked about the set-up and how it starts with this girl who shows up in this odd place like a fish out of water and then it focuses on the guy.

I know this is a Camille song, but I never interpreted it that way. Why would there be two different characters? Nothing is said to make that distinction. “That’s what you get for being cute” could apply to a guy and Camille as well.

Lots of interesting chatter about why this album came to be. Captain took the reins and said it was about winning back the back audience because people said he lost them along the way. And others saying he wasn’t funky anymore and how his best efforts come out when he’s out to prove something.

I don’t know what it is, but it’s hard to me to think of this album and the songs within the discography sometimes. It’s a weird album. And also- it was never going to be released so in that aspect, it comes off like a lot of the bootlegs I have. A supplement to the overall body of work.
But a couple of these songs are important to Prince’s character arc and his life.
“Dead on it” being his first attempt at hip-hop, even if it was a half-hearted parody or satire.
and there’s the whole “Bob George” thing.
But it’s also full of songs I don’t consider personal favorites, not ones I have any fond connection to. The Batman album may have that same issue (although I do love 2 tracks a lot… more on those in 2 weeks).

As for the guys’ scores… I don’t see myself giving this album an 8.
If it’s lucky, it’ll get 7.5, but I’m predicting something like 7.2 or .3.

I also heard something kinda interesting. They were talking about remastering the album and how poor a choice it was to not remaster this. Someone said something about remastering the podcasts and MC talked about the echo on the Skype being annoying.
…is that how the podcasts are recorded? The guys are on Skype with one another?
I know it’s a “virtual round table” so they’re not in the same room when they do it (especially with Toejam being in Brisbane), but I thought they were just on the phone dialing in.
Again, while I’m curious about what they look like in real life, I kinda don’t want to know and have whatever “magic” ruined by that.
I have seen one or two pictures of them as a group, but not with any of them identified. I’m sure one day I’ll wind up saying that each of them looks like [insert celebrity name here]

Again- I swear I’m forgetting something, but nothing is coming to mind.
tomorrow’s the big day… giving this album and each track a number.
Not to say it’s bad, but it’s just not how I roll.

I did forget something!
There was talk amongst the panel about the opening dialogue of the album in “Le Grind.” How it’s possible that, had this album been released, it probably would have been done anonymously the way Madhouse was. So that when people heard it and dug it, Prince got to them and say (in Captain’s words) “Haha, you can suck it, I’ve still got it”… for all the people who doubted that he’d lost the funk.
So many possibilities, but yet, this was how it all wound up going.

I always seem to have this plan of giving the album a final listen when I’m done for the week and it’d be sometime in the weekend, usually 10 or 11pm.
It’s never gone well. At least so far it hasn’t… the two Sott discs, I was listening at those hours, but mentally I wasn’t fully in it because I was tired.

Today, my timing was just terrible. I started this afternoon hanging outside. But like an idiot, I tried to carry on conversation while listening with one earbud in and it just didn’t work.
And with Father’s Day tomorrow, I’m just not going to have time to do it. And I don’t really want to do it twice in one day either.
I will say, though, that I liked “Le Grind” the most I had since the earlier days I had the album. Then everything came and went and I just wasn’t fully in it.
But if I’m going to stay on point and on schedule, I need to get those scores done tonight.

If the opportunity comes up, maybe I’ll give it a go tonight when it’s really time for bed. I don’t think the scoring will change, though.
But I think it’ll get a little more positive.

THE BLACK ALBUM- in a nutshell, is a funky party album with a little “social commentary” and one ballad.
But because we’re talking about Prince here, it’s also unconventional and unexpected.
And sex and innuendo needs to come into play as well. He just can’t help himself.

LE GRIND
The funky party gets started and everyone’s off to a good mood with this brand new dance. Prince can write a good jam and this falls in line with the others with all the usual tricks. He introduces the concept and inserts himself into the mix. Great horn line that falls all the way through. Quotable lyrics that could rival some from Housequake. But after Housequake being the monster it was on the previous album, is this able to compete?
Technical Score- 4 (the music, while well executed, could have been mixed better and doesn’t always have the endurance to stay compelling all the way through. While only Prince could make a “new dance” out of grinding and making it French, it ain’t Housequake. That doesn’t pack that extra punch)
Components score- 3.5 (I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt- it’s not one of my favorite jams by any means, but there are some times I do like it a lot. Just not often enough).
Total score- 7.5

CINDY C
I don’t know why, but I always imagine that “Le Grind” happening at Prince’s house (like where the Housequake happens) or at Paisley Park. This song, I imagine more as a cocktail reception at a slightly classier dance club.
Anyway- it tells a fun story about trying to get the attention of this model. And according to the lyrics (I had the look them up because, I hadn’t addressed or really took notice of this before, they’re hard to hear sometimes), he wants to “unlock the secrets of her mind” by having her sip some elderberry wine. Hmm… you could take that a certain way and I’m not going to explain just what that is, but it doesn’t set a good precedent.
So it’s a funky jam with a little satire, a little comedy, and there’s a rap. A very cool one by Cat Glover (who apparently stole it from J.M. Silk)
Technical Merit- 4.5 (the music is so funky and so great that it draws my attention a lot. And for someone who loves lyrics, that’s important to note. Meanwhile, the vocals are kinda low in the mix where I could only understand half of what Prince is singing in falsetto. For me, that’s not good. But everything else is great, music, lyrics, how it’s put together. And I can’t imagine anyone but Prince pulling this off. It’s so good)
Components score- 4 (I like this one a lot. Probably will be among my favorites on this album by the end of it. I like this whenever it comes on and I do go out of my way to listen to it sometimes)
Total score- 8.5

DEAD ON IT
Prince’s first attempt at hip-hop. He pokes fun, but at the same time makes it clear that hip-hop isn’t real music that has nothing to do with the funk and rappers put up a false faΓ§ade he finds simultaneously hilarious and repulsive.
Or maybe I’m just making up my own shit and that’s what I take away from the song.
Technical Merit- 4 (the music’s decent, good vocal and it’s well put together. but there are some stupid lyrics in here- sorry, Prince- and of course since it’s a take off a Run-DMC track, it’s not wholly original)
Components score- 2.5 (there are some moments in this song that I like, but there are others I don’t. even if it’s poking fun at a genre I hate, I’m not crazy about Prince trying to be something he’s not in what feels like a half-hearted attempt)
Total score- 6.5

WHEN 2 R IN LOVE
A ballad that seems very out of place on this album, but it’s kind of a nice break from it relying heavily on one genre. It’s one of Prince’s more sensual ballads, but it also doesn’t go the extra length his other ballads typically do. Where it’s the foreplay, then the spoken part, action and we have a finish. Had it not had this identity crisis, not quite belonging on either of the albums it’s on, it might be thought of more.
Technical Score- 5 (I have no choice but to give it a perfect score. Everything’s well executed. While I wish sometimes it was a little bit longer, it does its job in those 3 minutes and change. Yeah, Prince is just that good)
Components score- 4.5 (I’ve had some great moments with this song and even though it’s out of place, it’s one of my favorite parts of the album)
Total score- 9.5
(Makes me wonder if I’ll just carry this score over to the LoveSexy review or I’ll wind up giving it something else and I’ll average the two for the next step where I got through all the songs)

BOB GEORGE
This isn’t a song so much as it is an experience. An insane one that wound eliciting a lot of personal baggage for Prince. It tells a story of violence about a dangerous character who wants to get even with somebody. What and who these character represent is anyone’s guess. But it’s highly likely this is one of the big reasons Prince had that crisis of conscience and decided at the last minute to stop the release of the album.
Technical score- 5 (the music creates such an intense atmosphere, like the theme music that follows a villain around. the dialogue lyrics paint a picture to match the music. well put together, the vocals are distorted to “protect” Prince’s identity and it was a wise choice for a track like this. It’s super unique in his catalogue where he never attempted anything like this again and only he could do a good story with kick-ass music and all the other things I mentioned)
Components score- 4.5 (it totally sucks me in whenever I listen to it. I’d give it a perfect score if not for the fact, despite how much I admire how it’s put together, it gives me the creeps. And clearly Prince felt the same way once he got out of that character by the time he finished putting the track together)
Total score- 9.5

SUPERFUNKYCALIFRAGISEXY
We’re back in party mode and this time we have something to kick it up a notch- Squirrel Meat! This is as insane as a rave. Super crazy lyrics. Vocals that are completely nuts. But it’s not something for everyone- especially if they’re not into the side-effects that come with it.
Technical Merit- 4.5 (all the factors are met. but there are some vocals that don’t quite work- particularly some backing vocals)
Components Score- 2 (I can’t help but wonder if this is another song that had Prince wondering if he should release this album. Never mind the drug references, but how he portrayed himself and his attitude about sex. The music is great, but I’m personally conflicted with this one. After a while, it’s an uncomfortable listen. It’s just not my kind of party)
Total score- 6.5

2 NIGS UNITED FOR WEST COMPTON
Nothing short of an instrument jam. This has been a record full of funky jams so it falls along those lines. But for me, it’s always felt like an odd addition. It may go with the theme of the album, but what purpose does it have? What does it bring that the others before it haven’t already? The opening dialogue could have easily have been put at the start of the previous track and we’d cut right to the final song.
Technical merit- 3.5 (I need to come up with a system for instrumentals where there are no vocals or lyrics to speak of– but this one has dialogue at the start. The music is hard to argue with because Prince is brilliant at music, period. There is something of a structure to it, but there isn’t enough to this track to warrant it a spot on this album)
Components score- 1.5 (this is the lowest components score I’d given out so far. the only reason I don’t skip it is because the album would feel kinda weird skipping from the previous track to the last one. I hate to say it about Prince, but most of it sounds like noise to me. It’s a bunch of instruments playing stuff with no real rhyme or reason to it. I don’t see a reason this belongs on an album- not even one as oddball and underground movement sounding as this one)
Total score- 5 (the last time I gave a score this low was “Annie Christian” on Controversy… if you disagree, please don’t take offense. This track just is not my thing)

And this album is just about killed- I’d been very harsh with certain tracks.
However, there is one song left.

ROCKHARD IN A FUNKY PLACE
Possibly the oddest way to end an album (and even Prince seems to agree, judging by the last few seconds).
Camille makes a comeback and paints an interesting picture of what seems like an after-party “get-together” (it’s hard to imagine what it is, but you could fill in your own blanks. I have my own idea- a lot of sex is happening. Insert word here). An uncomfortable social situation, but possibly one that isn’t often addressed. Not just in music, but anywhere really. It takes balls to write a song like this. Let’s just say that.
Technical Merit- 5 (taking the lyrics into account, I definitely wouldn’t have given it a perfect score a couple years ago. I guess you could say now I can kinda see the humor in the situation and what he meant to accomplish with it. Great guitar work- I think this was a track where I thought the guitar sounded like it was doing a precursor of the “Gett Off” guitar solo.)
Components score- 4 (yeah, no pun intended here, but this one has grown me a lot… and funny enough, this all started with my Camille playlist and suddenly getting this song on my brain on Prince’s birthday this year so it was among his songs I listened to that day).
Total score- 9

Okay, moment of truth… and it’s not going to be pretty.
In order:

When 2 R in Love- 9.5
Bob George- 9.5
Rockhard in a Funky Place- 9
Cindy C- 8.5
Le Grind- 7.5
Dead on it- 6.5
Superfunkycalifragisexy- 6.5
2 Nigs United for West Compton- 5

Total score- 62… divide by points possible (80)… oh wow… 7.8
After all that, it’s tied with Controversy. That’s kinda insane.
In the future, when I’m listing all the albums in order from my favorite to my least favorite, I figured I’d be using the components average to break the tie.
Even then, I like this album a tad more than Controversy… if I was to go by the math.

I still have time to figure that part out.
But it makes me wonder- in the grand scheme of things… will this album and Controversy mark the halfway point or will it be at the start of the half where my favorites are?
I won’t find out until much later, but this is a surprise.

As for the tracks I’m taking forward…
When 2 R in Love (I have a feeling that the material on LoveSexy is going to be so good, it’s not going to come nearly as close to the top)
Bob George
and maybe Rockhard in a Funky Place too…

So another album down…
and in the epic battle between good and evil, it should be interesting to see what next week brings. Whether LoveSexy can beat its dark counterpart…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wendy & Lisa- the album [#1]

I figured since I’m getting around to The Black Album… which came out (or would have come out… more on that later) in December 1987.

Wendy & Lisa’s debut album as a duo came out August 24th, 1987.
I’m running out time to kinda incorporate it into the overall scheme of things so I gave it a listen today.

I first found and downloaded this album in February 2009. It was my soundtrack while walking around campus, which is deep within the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and I had to walk them every day to get from the off-campus apartments. Thanks to my iPod, not only Prince, but this album went everywhere with me.

After college, I’ve always brought this album with me when we go down to our shorehouse and I like listening to it in bed before going to sleep. As well as when we take trips out to other shore points. That way, this music always reminds me of those good times that last semester and of that scenery and atmosphere.

Okay- enough back story πŸ˜›

After taking all the Prince music off my iPod at the end of last year to start with a clean slate, this was the one album that stayed… but I never listened to it.
It may be a summer album for me, but I almost always listen to one or two songs whenever I feel the need.
The one song I didn’t listen to today was “Light”… that’s the one song I just always listened to at night before going to sleep. Also because I went off to see friends at night (one of the few times in my life had close friends that I got to see very regularly), I took this song with me. So when I listen, I imagine myself back on campus.

Honeymoon Express- I always love swaying to the beat of this song. Most of these songs have signature beat I always groove to or picture in my head as I groove.
There’s a great reverb on Wendy’s lead vocal, awesome harmonies on the bridge.
With these two, I feel like I’m able to hear every instrument and each one stands out on its own. This is keyboards. Then before the final bridge, there’s something like a xylophone that gets played and then that part comes back to feature in the final chorus.
Also that final bridge- there is such a dreamy rich keyboard line that Lisa holds and the track becomes so much more.
The story of the lyrics is very straight forward. Lovers vow to reunite at the station where their relationship first started.

Sideshow- oh, this one is so much fun. This is one I groove to and also see choreography in my head. [On the last few notes of the lead line, I nod my head to the right on the beat and imagine spinning around a couple times].
The lyrics are so nonsensical- I’m almost afraid I’ll ruin it if I look them πŸ˜› on the verses. everywhere not so much.

it was the first moment I started to wonder: how many of these songs [if any at all… it could be none of them and it wouldn’t change how I feel] were inspired by working with Prince or how he disbanded The Revolution and cut himself off from them?

Prince World kinda is a sideshow when you really think about it.

Interesting thing about the song… the song plays through all the verses and choruses… twice. First, it’s with the vast arrays of textures and sounds. Then it gets what I call the Madonna treatment- the music sounds like something in the background of “Express Yourself.” It’s mostly Lisa on dreamy synths creating atmosphere and playing a set of notes and some interesting percussive effects.
The song runs more than 10 minutes long and I don’t mind it. I enjoy it so much.

Light- it’s got dreamy synths again. It creates such an amazing atmosphere. I listen to it and I imagine coming out of my apartment. It’s early evening. The sun is down. Few people are around. I walk down the steps and start walking down the stretch of apartments towards campus, looking at various landmarks, cross the bridge and meet my friends at the end of the road.
The theme of the lyrics is about embracing your own light.
The synths are borderline spooky, but to me, they’re like a good friend whenever I come back.
This is also one of those songs I don’t listen to all the time because I’m afraid the magic will disappear.

Waterfall- I saw the videos for Honeymoon Express and Sideshow previously on that VH1 Soul Prince protΓ©gΓ© labor day marathon.
This was the song where I just fell in love and wanted to get to know more about these girls.
The drum beat kicks things off, you get guitar from Wendy, great harmonies with Lisa on certain lyrics as if to emphasize their meaning.
It sounds like this could have been about the break-up of The Revolution, looking into the lyrics.
What made me fall in love- Wendy playing that guitar solo in the video. I saw her style and had that fond reminder of how Prince played. Like she learned a few things from him. But I think everyone who worked with him did. He took their individual talents and helped them blossom into the best versions of themselves.
This song also continues onward with different music… but you don’t get any more lyrics other than the occasional “Waterfall”… this is more of Lisa’s part because it’s all about the keyboards, playing some notes and holding others to create dreamy atmosphere.

Blues Away- this is another one for choreography. In my head, it starts off as a faster variation of Tai Chi, going with the beat of the music, which remains mostly consistent.
Then there’s a part where it speeds up and I imagine skipping through the woods in circles. Well, maybe not me. Someone.
Keyboards feature here, playing some interesting notes to create a vibe and atmosphere.
It seems to be about locking the blues away and not letting them bring you down.

Chance to Grow- I think this is Lisa’s only lead vocal on this album… This is the Life might be another. But that makes it stand out.
Once when I listened to it, I was coming to the campus cafeteria in the early morning (ok, 7:30 for me is early- shut up!) and early sunlight peeking through the trees.
The lyrics seem to be about a parting of ways because “everybody needs a chance to grow.”
The keyboards are the lead instrument and they really come off amazing here. I believe that’s Wendy playing the accompanying instrument- I don’t think it’s a guitar, but I have no idea what else I’m hearing.

Everything but you- this one is one of my favorites on the album… “Light” might be it, but this is the one I hear more often.
It starts out so dramatically, Lisa playing alternating notes with Wendy’s guitar slowly gaining power in the background. With the main melody, once the song settles down, I’m back to Tai Chi mood again πŸ˜‰
The drums are very dramatic and drive the song from verse to chorus and so on.
This REALLY sounds like the parting of ways between them and Prince.
They say how they like it “when you talk/laugh/scream” and how it makes them laugh and cry and they have to go outside to get some air.
Sounds like they’re trying to escape Prince World.
The highlight of this one for me is another guitar solo… absolutely tremendous!
I kinda don’t like, though, how the song just keeps going and fades out… as if there’s no legit conclusion for it.


so… I was saying how much I love this album… the truth is after that semester in college… I only listened to those first 7 songs and just stopped.
It’s not that I don’t like them. I just love those others so much that I don’t feel like continuing after the high of this last song.

“Song About It”- I think I found the lyrics a little repetitive or I just hated in the chorus how it sounds the phrase is incomplete.
Again- I can’t help but think about Prince and how this might be another song about their relationship with him and how things changed and they aren’t what they used to be.
Instead of keyboards, it sounds like more of a traditional piano piece. Kinda melancholy.

“Stay Baby Stay”…
I think I heard this once since I graduated college. I was listening to this album at night, I fell asleep at one point and woke up to this song. It was nice. Kinda like a lullaby.
What I loved about it- in the chorus, it doesn’t go where you think it does. You have the first few notes, then it down half a step so it’s a non-traditional melody. It’s a little imperfect, but that’s the whole beauty of it.

“White”- I remember this being an instrumental and the last time I heard it, I think I was walking around campus after finding one of my classes was postponed so I had a free afternoon. It gets a little repetitive, but that’s perfectly fine. It borders on jazz and has some saxophone in it- sounds almost like Eric Leeds πŸ˜›

“this is the life”- this was one I didn’t particularly care for. The main reason- it’s kinda repetitive and melancholy. Hearing it again for the first time in ages- it kinda sounds like they’re doing “Sometimes it snows in April” but they didn’t capture the same magic.
Plus, it’s a long track.

I don’t know if I’m ready to get into the habit of listening to all of this album again. I feel very good with those first 7 and kinda only want to listen to the others sparingly. That way, they still have that connection to that special time in my life. And as the years go by, they’re slipping further away from conscience.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Revolution is coming… to Atlantic City

All the pieces are in place, so now I’m comfortable with posting this exciting news.
I just need to wait two months (and I will pray that Bobby Z, Wendy and Lisa, Brown Mark and Dr. Fink stay healthy and well in this time. After what happened to Prince and hearing Bobby Z had a second heart attack late last year- nothing in this life is completely guaranteed until it for sure happens).

So- I came home from work on Friday June 2nd. I randomly check Twitter on my phone and see The Revolution post on Twitter (their handle is @stillagroup …as in the Purple Rain quote Bobby Z says to The Kid “We’re still a group, right?”) they had to add a show due to excessive demand. Another east coast show.
At Atlantic City.
Yeah, I’m freaking out and almost can’t breathe, but as soon as I get myself together, I say that we have to do this. My mom agrees to go with me so I wouldn’t going alone. I stayed up late that night until 12am Saturday morning… when the tickets officially went on sale at Ticketmaster.
10 minutes later- I got two tickets.
Maybe less than 12 hours later, I get a third. My dad (the one who had me sit through the 2nd half of Purple Rain despite my protests I didn’t want to see a movie that was already half over that I’d never seen before… who had two Purple Rain tracks on a mix CD and the album which I “adopted”) figured to ask my sister if she wanted to come with us. That way, he could just do his own thing and we could do the concert.

He’s gonna be missing out big time. That’s all I can say.

So yeah- August 11th at 9pm. I’m counting down the days already. I got that day off from work so we can make a whole evening of it.

Even more exciting was mentioning this on Twitter and commenting on a page they posted about how often it rains after Prince performs Purple Rain in concert… The Revolution not only liked, but replied to my comment… they liked the other post about me going to the show…
They’re now following me on Twitter. Them and Wendy & Lisa.

The mind boggles.
I don’t pretend to understand why. Because I don’t.

Either way, everything seems like one big golden opportunity.
I skipped out on a couple other shows The Revolution did close to me and after this news came out… I was not doing that again. I had to go.
And I will be…

Omg, is it August yet?! πŸ˜›

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Prince Album #9: Sign o’ the Times [Disc II]

Disclaimer: this is the final piece of a post that was over 13,000 words… so I thought I’d split it “equally” into three different parts… this is the finale.

DISC II

yeah, I’m finally onto the final 7 songs of this double album. And it came with some interesting results.
[I won’t go into all the songs immediately- just the ones where the “interesting results” happened]

U Got the Look- looking at the princevault entry, he performed it at his last concert appearance… something to think about.

If eye was your girlfriend- [also the part of that April 14 2016 show] I’d heard it a couple times already as part of the Camille album. but this is the first time I’d really been able to listen to it and was always alone while doing so.
Prince recorded the vocal alone in the studio. I know that for a fact. I also know that Susan Rodgers make an error with one of the settings on the controls when he was recording the backing vocals that distorted them. She was horrified when she heard the playback, but he didn’t seem to mind and kept them. What that must’ve been like…
For me, this is one of those songs that, even for Prince, felt like it was another level.
This is such a beautiful vocal performance. Makes me wonder what it would’ve sounded like without the Camille treatment :cloud9:
Prince was really good with playing both sides of the gender coin and this is a prime example. Love the lyrics. And I feel like I get the most out of it when no one else is around, but maybe that’s because it’s so beautiful it sometimes make me wanna cry.

“I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”… this is a Prince classic loved by many, but today was one of the few times, maybe the only time, where I liked it or it affected me in any way.
Don’t know why, but singing along with some lyrics, I had to fight not to cry. Something in the lyrics just hit home, but I don’t know what.
Then there’s the whole “it’s a sad song set to upbeat music” thing. And it was kinda hard to go with the beat when you really listen to it.
Then I thought about one lyric and found it odd… the girl in the song at a bar, but her man “left her with a baby and another one on the way”… if that’s true, she shouldn’t be at a bar or drinking. Unless that was the whole point of coming there.
The one criticism I always had about it… it’s nothing but instrumental after the first two minutes. I never really understood the point of that. And it’s such a well-written song that it feels like it needs another verse and chorus to finish it up.
I also find it interesting to find it’s another one-man band effort. Even the back-up vocals… the ones on the main hook… I don’t like them. Even less when Boni Boyer sang them in the live version. It reminds me of a baby for whatever reason- that kinda takes me out of being fully on board.

The Cross- the last time he performed it was 7/7/07 [and under that new name that caused controversy among the fan base… I don’t want to read into that too much… cuz I’m not there yet]
When I think about it, I think about the clip in the “Prince of Paisley Park” documentary where he’s performing it live at the Lovesexy tour.
Another song I don’t often invest in, at least not fully.
This time, I was halfway in it, really getting the message and taking it to heart.
Then when the song started to repeat itself, I lost interest.
I’m also not a fan of the sitar when it comes in- it just takes the song to a weird place.
Prince always has to do something that’s unconventional.

It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night- this was the biggest surprise of the 7. I’d always dismissed this as an odd live track that really had no place here.
But I just swept up in the whole spirit of it as if I was at a Prince concert. Something in the beat just got me going and I felt completely uninhibited. Of course I had to make sure to keep driving nice and straight. Did it still run long? Yeah… a bit… it could been cut down by a couple minutes.

Adore- it’s a beloved Prince ballad, but I don’t often feel the love with it. Not quite sure why. It’s hard to explain. Maybe it was the delivery of it that just felt over the top and I don’t get anything genuine from it. But I get a little out of it every time.
And I think the last time I did get emotional with the last few moments of it- just like I did this time. Maybe because it was the end of the album. But also because that lyric “for all time I am with you, you are with me”… holding onto that because his body is no longer here, but his spirit is with me whenever I listen to him.
I thought for a second- what if he recorded this after he and Susannah broke up? That’d give it a little more meaning and a sad one at that.
But he recorded this before they had that last “Play in the Sunshine” recording session… one day before. So it’s still possible.

I also thought that there was a possibility for cohesion to happen.
The fact this disc starts with three Camille tracks and four Prince tracks… there’s a bit of a rift there in my mind that’s hard to overcome.
The first three are kinda like relationship tracks- where you first meet the person, you want to be everything for them, and it’s a strange relationship.
…maybe that’s meant to continue the train of thought from “Forever in my life”… or these are just flashbacks that come before it chronologically and “Adore” is where it all ends.
He also has other things going on with those other tracks- showing a bit of humility (“I can never take the place of your man” is unique in that sense… there aren’t many tracks like that in his catalogue), finding salvation and spirituality.
Then things had gotten so serious that he just wants to let loose and party on with “it’s gonna be a beautiful night”… that’s the one thing about the song I liked today… just freeing me from things in the world that’ve been stressing me out [to be more to the point, the way people have been overreacting to things going on in the world… I feel like nobody’s on my side about anything– where I can’t say anything online or otherwise without someone twisting it around to make it sound like I’m a bad person…that’s why I don’t engage in politics on social media if at all possible… listening to Prince is usually the one thing that can take me away from all that and make me feel better].

I guess that’s good for now… I’ll give these tracks another listen and add more notes tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be a little more lenient than I was with Disc I…

I need to hear “U Got the Look” when I’m not concerned about driving safely because it’s hard to fully invest… it’s one of those great beats almost guaranteed to get me moving and smiling. There’s not much to it as far as the story it tells, but it’s super catchy. Don’t know why it didn’t do better as a single.
Sheena Easton said she did the vocals without knowing she’d be singing opposite Prince, which explains why she’s all over the track. But it just works. I didn’t know that until recently and always thought she fit perfectly on it. Sheila E’s drums are easy to detect, but she’s also in the video. (If she wasn’t on the track, but in the video, I’d cry fowl).
One of Prince’s best videos- so iconic down to how everyone is dressed. So 80’s. I hope I’ll be able to find it.

I don’t know what my problem was yesterday with the “almost crying” moments during certain songs because I was fine today πŸ˜›
But I had a crazy out-of-body experience (yeah, while I was driving, but the road ahead of me was clear) during the last part of “If eye was your girlfriend”… like when Prince goes crazy at the very end, talking really fast… like his spirit took over my body for a few short minutes.

“Strange Relationship” is so fun just to sing along to. And I always kinda ad-lib during the main hook. As if making up for the fact Wendy and Lisa’s vocals were erased from this track when Prince made it Camille’s. Just as a song in general, it’s one of my favorites to listen to. Maybe not super special when compared to the 100’s of songs Prince has written, but it’s good enough for me.

I found throughout listening to the disc that each time I listen, different details jump out and make an impact. And sometimes, that’s the way it goes and I don’t mind it.
It makes the material sound fresh each time.

with “I could never take the place of your man”- I timed it, at 3:49, the instrumental break begins and it lasts for about 2 minutes before it starts back up.
I don’t really get why that’s there… unless it helps set up for the next song, which is thinking about the big picture and people who have problems in their lives.

“The Cross” was the song where a lot of those hot and cold moments happened. Some moments I locked into and others I didn’t… maybe it’s good that the verses repeat, to not only drive the point home, but if you didn’t catch it the first time, maybe the next time you’ll feel something.
The drumming in the second half is a definite highlight- the Peach and Black guys always give Prince props when they hear him drumming on a track. It has a lot more emotion than one would think. Not to be underestimated.

“It’s gonna be a beautiful night” didn’t hit me like it did the other day… but that was because I kinda had a lot of negativity bringing me down… that lyric about not having time for politics cuz no one wants to fight… that got my attention and kept it.
I’ll tell you how freed I felt the other day- I got through that part, hearing the lyrics, high on euphoria… at that moment, I just remembered there was an iconic Prince scream in there and I just freaking did it and nailed it.
Today, my throat closed up. I’d compare it to do a jump on a horse, but you stop short of jumping the gate. But that’s ok. Made that other day feel more special.

“Adore’- I think could do without some of the extra voices. There’s just a little too much for my tastes. But I heard a few instances that made me think of others songs. That’s why diehard fans say it set the template for future Prince ballads.
“Insatiable” is the easy way to go- starting with the vocal before the first lyrics… it reminds me of the start of that song as well. Then one point made me think of “Friend, Lover, Sister Mother/Wife”… the music when he says “nothing could compare to your lovely face”

it’s June 7th, Prince’s birthday. In the back in my mind, I’m always going to know what age he’d be, but in the front… I’m thinking of him as a vampire and he just keeps celebrating his 57th birthday today.
So what I wound up doing… the plan was always to listen to Peach and Black on the way home, but the rest I made up on the fly.
I turned on the album, starting from disc 1, song 1 and doing a little in the morning and a little in the afternoon… that way I can stretch the podcast over three days.
So I got to “Play in the sunshine” and enjoyed more than I had ever… and I gave a good old Prince scream and that was for him πŸ˜‰ it just came so easily so I just went with it.

At work, I was a little more creative… maybe a little cheesy and lame.
I decided I’d play a Prince song every hour on a minute divisible by 7… and I’d play whatever I was inspired to play. Funny thing was… maybe it was because I wasn’t playing the actual album tracks… I wound up doing almost all Camille tracks. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. It was a good relaxing day at work…
8:07- If eye was your girlfriend
9:14- Strange Relationship (that was the one exception because it was the original cut… it reminded me a lot of the Parade material with it having this dreamy quality to it… no bass that I could hear)
10:28- Shockadelica (this song seriously feels like it’s from another world… so trippy)
11:35- Feel U Up (I’m getting to like that song a little more than I should… such a sick beat)
12:49- La La La Hee Hee Hee (I hadn’t heard this one in ages and remember not liking it too much… but long jams are growing on me more when I’m not really in the hurry to get anywhere… although I still like the first half more than the second)
1:07- Rockhard in a Funky Place (I was oddly hearing this song in my head and suddenly was in the mood to listen to it… the lyrics make it a little too awkward, but I was really grooving with the music)
1:57 (I threw the rules out the window at this point)- U Got the Look (long look)… the music sounded so good on this, much more alive than the CD, but that might also be the magic of the headphones/earbuds.

I remember really enjoying that song when I was in college and The Very Best of… was the one of the few Prince discs I had. That was one I always looked forward to. And certainly after the title track of the album, the energy woke me up… kinda like the lyric.

So… with the podcast, I only got through two songs so far… “U Got the look” was liked, but not loved. And MC spent a good part of this portion bashing the CD and saying how the bottom end is missing and vinyl is better, etc… kinda makes me wish for a remaster of this album so I can get what I have been missing.

Then “If eye was your girlfriend” got lots of love… from everyone but Captain. What a surprise, right? off the top of my head, I don’t know…I think the only song he really loved so far that was also a fan favorite was “When you were mine”
Maybe if he listened to lyrics more…
for me, the song was about the lyrics and the theme and idea of it before the music. But everything else slowly fell into place. I think it’s one of my personal favorites as well- the fact I don’t want to overdo listening to it because I’m afraid the magic will wear off, that’s very telling πŸ˜‰

I was also going to say [but didn’t remember until now]… I thought while listening to that song– only Prince will be able to sing it and have it be authentic. Any other guy who’d try this would sound kinda creepy… but he can get away with it because he’s a little feminine, but also very masculine.
[I think about his sex appeal and for whatever reason, I have the 3121/Planet Earth version of him in my head… but that’s the time I was starting to get to know him and those first few appearances really stuck with me]

Picking it up today, Player pretty nailed it- saying “Strange Relationship” gets forgotten about because of its placement on the album and he felt bad for it.
Lots of love for this. Toejam was talking about how it had 3 great hooks and anyone would kill to have one. Then MC did an epic movie voiceover bit saying ‘and he’s got 3… IN ONE SONG”… yeah, very epic.
I like both versions that I have for different reasons. The Wendy & Lisa one felt like it was right out of the ATWIAD album… but where the heck would I put it? πŸ˜›

Anyway- moving on- the others got a lot of love… yeah, it does get a little boring. I felt that way the first time I heard this podcast. But I like hearing about all the good points in these songs.

The Cross got some interesting chatter. Toejam said you can take it however you want- which is definitely true. That’s how those gospel songs are meant to be.
I’d heard rumblings about the change in lyrics- calling it “The Christ” after the JW conversion and it caused… wait for it… Contro-versy [wow, that feels like ages ago… at least 2 months, I think] among fans. I won’t read too much into all that- but the way Prince put it “someone lied about how somebody died”… it makes it sound like the JW faith doesn’t believe Jesus is the Lord and Saviour. But I’ll go more into all that… possibly… during my Rainbow Children post. And that’ll be even further away.
Captain said it was one of his favorites and didn’t mind the lyric change.
MC said how you could hear grunge elements in there. The guitar solo when the song just opens up, I can hear that for sure. The clip they previewed the song with, I heard something else in it, like it reminded me of some other artist. Don’t know why The Rolling Stones came to mind cuz that might be completely off. I don’t know their work that well.
And he said how the last time he had listened to it- he had an incredible experience that helped fuel a gushing review. With any song, really, that’s a nice moment to have.

Then he and Toejam had an interesting discussion I just HAD to remember to write down.
Prince never full-out covers a genre, it’s always mixed with elements of others. And they asked aloud if he does that on purpose or he simply can’t help himself.
I’m willing to bet that it’s 50/50.

Holy crap- I found the freaking movie! It’s online somewhere… I’m going to have to save it for tomorrow and add a little about that. [probably the shortest entry of the three, LOL… never thought it was possible to do a short post about Prince, but I guess I just did]
Seriously, if I really enjoy it, I’ll go stake out Amazon and buy myself a copy. So I won’t have to do it this way again. [Just because Prince isn’t here anymore doesn’t mean the WebSheriff isn’t… that’s what people at .org called the people who took Prince videos off YouTube and sent them and Housequake cease and desist letters- which precipitated “Pfunk”… that’ll be a trip going back to after all these years. I think I’ve only heard it twice ever]
…I’m still undecided whether I want to buy it. I’ll figure that out much later after I get a little distance from this era.

And I’m starting to debate if I should also split this post into a couple posts… this one is already massive as it is. By adding Disc II PLUS the movie… it might be too much.
[It was and I did, clearly if you’re reading this now after going through the other two]

Anyway- getting to the rest of the podcast (and the album)…
“It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” was the biggest surprise of these two weeks with the album. I never liked it nearly as much as I do now. It’s not going to make my top songs of all time, but it’s just been a great fun time.
And I really should look at the lyrics…
that rap is freaking insane… I wonder how much time Sheila E had to practice before Prince recorded her doing it.
“Adore” got a lot of love- even from Captain, who doesn’t like ballads in general.
But I’m gonna be pulling one of his lines: [paraphrasing] “I can admit it’s a good song, even if I don’t like it myself”
Prior to listening to this album the first time, I got to know so many great Prince ballads: The Beautiful Ones, Shh, A Million Days, Te Amo Corazon (the Brits live version), Somewhere here on Earth… maybe Insatiable, but I don’t think I was super in love with it like I am now… I’ve heard this song hyped up so much, but when I finally get around to it… I just don’t get that same feel or make that connection. Probably the most I’d ever felt from it was since Prince’s death- and I take other meaning from it in some lyrics, but not the thing as a whole.

…that makes it sound like there’s something wrong with me, doesn’t it?
I’m not 100% sold on fan favorites like “I could never take the place of your man” and “housequake” had to grow on me a bit from this album.
I’m kinda hoping that watching the movie version can convert me.

[Side-note: looking at the recording dates of various songs, all in 1986, I checked to see if he created anything good on my birthday… the only cool thing listed was the release of The Time’s first album, but that’s 5 years too early… no songs, concerts or anything in 1986 on that day… Prince, what the heck were you doing that day? …2 days before, “Adonis and Bathesheba” was recorded… 4 days after, he gave a concert at Madison Square Garden… I guess he was busy rehearsing cuz there’s no way he was relaxing at this particular time in his career… anyway… I’m kinda depressed about the fact I don’t have any Prince song as a birthday twin… he was at the Garden for another night and the next recording was 9 days later- Forever in my Life]

So I finished the Peach and Black podcast on the album. I tend to talk back out whether I agree or disagree with something and I think I weirded out my sister cuz she went inside when I started listening πŸ˜›

There was a lot of “who does that?” kind of talk going on. Then I felt like a loser because there’s no way I’m giving this album 10/10 like MC and Captain. It’s not Captain’s favorite, he said, but it deserves the perfect rating. For MC, I’ll have to ask him about it on Twitter if he decided between it and The Gold Experience, which his favorite is. It seems like Gold is the sentimental favorite for him since it’s his first real album (not counting when he rented Emancipation from the library or owning The Hits collection because that’s a compilation) and this one may be the best overall album in his opinion.
Player and Toejam saved me from loser-dom and just feeling like the Prince community is going to disown me because this whole album isn’t getting a perfect score from me.
It’ll be extremely lucky to get a 9, let’s put it that way.

Player gave it 9.5 because of the movie and how certain versions of the songs are the definitive versions. And there are a couple others he rates higher.
Then Toejam gave it a solid 9. It’s really a grower and even 10 years owning the album, he still feels like a novice to it and finds something new and exciting every time.

I can definitely agree with that sentiment.
My definitive opinion is that this album has gotten so much hype from everyone who knows of it… I’m expecting to feel that same excitement and I just don’t.
With certain songs, I absolutely get it, but not with the project as a whole.
I think it might also be because I think I need a year or two without it before I come back to it.

Then there was the comment about trying to find filler in this album…
I want to say there are a couple songs I really don’t like and could do without, but I just can’t bring myself to hit the skip button. The product as a whole feels like it would be missing a piece if I took a song out. Even “It’s Gonna be a Beautiful Night”- if I disliked that song so much, I still would feel awkward going from “The Cross” to “Adore.”
I could imagine finishing the album without “Adore”… but considering my reaction to the movie without it, even that seems impossible.

So…. before I delay or add anymore, I’ll give these last 7 songs one final spin and I’ll rate them, this disc as a whole, then the album as a whole.
I predict that with some help from Disc II, I can give the whole album 8.4 out of 10.
And I think Disc II will get either 7.8 or a solid 8.

so interesting things on my last turn-through…
I don’t know if it’s all Prince music or this album in particular, but a lot is so beat-driven, it’s hard to sit still.
Sign o’ the Times as a whole has so many great rhythm tracks and this Disc has at least three (U Got the Look, Strange Relationship, It’s gonna be a beautiful night”).
If eye was your girlfriend- I was admiring the backing vocals so much that I tuning the lead vocal out. [But have to say- never mind the Camille vocal- Prince’s performance in the Sott movie isn’t nearly as exciting. He used a lot of the same ad-libs. Here, it’s different every time]. And I can actually hear those Motown bits I picked up in the movie version a little more.
Strange Relationship had that “Hot Thing” going on- the beat is so catchy and great, I could go for another couple minutes of it.
I could never take the place of your man- I feel like it’s his homage to a song he grew up with, but I have no clue which one. There’s something very old-school about it.
The Cross- musically, it is very sparse, but it grabs your attention.

Admittedly, the last two songs… I wish I didn’t have to wait until 11pm to do this because I was nodding off and not fully engaged.

Okay, time to do this thing again… time to crunch the numbers:

U GOT THE LOOK
A cool duet between Camille and Sheena Easton with an interesting backdrop [boy vs. girl world series of love… West Side Story style] set to a catchy pop song.
Technical merit- 4.5 (it hits all the points on the key elements, a well-structured pop song, but while it has that Prince flavor to it with that charisma and attitude, it’s not particularly unique in his catalogue)
Components score- 3.5 (I like this song a bit, but I don’t love it like some of the others on this album… I almost gave it a 4, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I used to)
Total score- 8

IF EYE WAS YOUR GIRLFRIEND
…oh brother… should I even bother breaking this one down?
This is one of those particular special Prince songs almost universally loved within his fan community and you kinda need to be in it in order to understand it [suddenly I’m thinking of that Automatic where he says “no one else can understand you, you’re too complex, they say nothing’s perfect, but they don’t know you”… not quite, but you get my point]. It’s one of his most intimate and vulnerable vocal performances. Technically, one of his best ever.
If I could have been in the studio to see Prince record anything, it’d be this song, just so I can hear what the original vocal sounded like before Camille. That would have been so amazing to watch. [I’d have to be a fly on the wall or a ghost so he wouldn’t know I was there cuz him being alone in the studio allowed him to bring out this vocal].
Have I said enough yet?
Total score- 10

STRANGE RELATIONSHIP
Perhaps one of Prince’s greatest beats and hooks of his career. Wendy and Lisa had their contributions dropped lower into the mix, but Lisa’s flute remains and that’s one of my favorite parts. The flute really is underestimated in his music- so many great flute tracks. Prince is a master of contradictions and this song is a prime example of it.
Technical score- 5 (I just can’t take anything away from it and I don’t want to)
Components score- 4 (Yeah, I like this one a lot, but this puts it on par with my favorites on the first disc… the previous track is just so exceptional that it beats everything out)
Total score- 9

I COULD NEVER TAKE THE PLACE OF YOUR MAN
…if any trouble starts, it’s going to begin with this one.
I have come around a bit on this track. I like more than I expected to at the beginning. Another well-composed song. Prince does the classic thing where he puts something upbeat to kinda sad lyrics. A master of contradiction like I said. But this song puts him in an interesting place- one he had really tapped into before. Where a girl is interested in him and he turns her down because he acknowledges he isn’t the person who can fill the void [no pun intended] left behind by her lost lover. He knows she’ll want more than a one-night stand and he isn’t able to provide that and would rather break her heart now rather than later. In that respect, this is a special one. But then there are my personal feelings to consider.
Technical merit- 4 (deduct half a point for those backing vocals I still find annoying and distracting… and it’s such a good poppy song that it could have benefited from another verse and chorus to really drive it home instead of an instrumental breakdown where the most prominent instrument is a cymbal constantly tapping in one speaker- I wish the guitar was louder in the mix and the cymbal was softer)
Components score- 3.5 (I like it enough, but it’s not one I go out of my way to listen to)
Total score- 7.5

oh boy… starting to back-slide a little bit..

THE CROSS
For Prince’s first stab at a spiritual/gospel track, it’s pretty damn good. The music is the perfect backdrop to the lyrics that paint a picture worth 1000 words that anyone could find their own interpretation in. A strong vocal with a lot of emotion. Maybe a tad repetitive, but perhaps it’s intended that way to give you a second chance to find meaning in certain lyrics.
Technical score- 5 (I think the above paragraph summed it up nicely)
Components score- 3.5 (Typically, I give 3’s to songs I’m neutral on… I’m a little past neural on this one. It also isn’t one that I’d had that personal connection with. Not yet, but it could happen. The potential is definitely there)
Total score- 8.5

IT’S GONNA BE A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT
The first “live track with overdubs” Prince put on an album since the Purple Rain era. But here, it feels a little out of place, especially since it was from a Revolution concert and he dubbed over much of their contributions. A party track in the vein of 1999 with a lot more going on. 9 minutes is a long time for one song and a couple others could have taken its place, but if the mood is just right, that time passes so fast.
Technical merit- 4.5 (deducted half a point because the vocals on the first two verses could have been a lot cleaner so they’d be easier to understand)
Components score- 3.5 (again, I like it, but I don’t like it all the time and wouldn’t put in on the same tier as my other favorites on this album)
Total score- 8 (whoa, that’s kinda surprising… I had a lower opinion of this song before I started and I thought it would be one of the ones that would doom this album in the numbers game)

ADORE
…yeah, if the fan community revokes my membership, my thoughts on this song are going to do it.
This is one of the most beloved Prince ballads ever. I’d known of its reputation before I heard it. And after I did… I feel bad, but I just don’t feel it.
Technical score- 4 (I can’t detract anything from the music, the lyrics are brilliant and this is definitely unique as a Prince ballad- it was the one that led to many of his other greats. The vocal is a strong performance, but there are a few moments, some involving backing vocals where I could erase one or two extra voices and one “you don’t know what you mean to me” hits this note that’s… I hate to say it… grates like nails on a chalk board. It breaks the spell a bit if one develops. And structurally, it does meander a little bit and takes a while to refocus)
Components score- 3 (I have no disdain for this song at all- I just haven’t found that connection with it that returns every time I listen to. Some moments I like and other times I’m wondering if the song’s going to be over soon)
Total score- 7

Okay… moment of truth…

Combined total is 58- divide by points possible (70)… 8.3
Wow! despite my nitpicks on certain well-loved Prince tracks, it still fared very well.
That’s 5 tenths higher Disc I. Alone, it beats 1999. That’s kind of a big deal.

I’ll look at the averages for the technical and components scores for another comparison.
Technically, it beats it by a lot. And this average- it’s the same as Purple Rain’s technical merit… that’s huge.
Components score- this disc is my favorite of the two by one hundredth.

Now for the combined total…
phew… 128 is a big number, but there are 16 tracks to consider too.
Divide by 160… I guess I should’ve known… average these two albums together… and that ties it with 1999 with a solid 8.0 out of 10.

And thinking about it, it makes a lot of sense. Both albums have a mix of material on them. Both have huge highlights and other songs I generally feel average or don’t care too much about.
I wonder if all those eclectic/varied albums are going to end up like this…

Now, I’ll end by listing the tracks in order from favorite to least favorite:

If eye was your girlfriend- 10
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker- 9
Strange Relationship- 9
Hot Thing- 9
Starfish & Coffee- 9
Housequake- 8.5
Forever in my life- 8.5
The Cross- 8.5
U Got the Look- 8
It’s Gonna be a beautiful night- 8
I could never take the place of your man- 7.5
Play in the Sunshine- 7
Adore- 7
Sign o’ the times- 6.5
Slow Love- 6.5
IT- 6

Wow… that’s a lot of material. And I’m glad to find “IT” at the bottom… at least that makes sense in the grand scheme of things.
Now if I wanted to put together a bunch of these songs for someone to get to know all of Prince’s genius… I’d pick those first 8 (ah, I wanted it to be 7, but The Cross is worthy including in that).
The others… I want to say you won’t miss out on too much without them, but “Adore” did lead to those future great ballads he did.

So going forward to my top 100 Prince songs… I’m taking a bunch since I have one perfect 10 and 4 very solid 9’s.

If eye was your girlfriend
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
Strange Relationship
Hot Thing
Starfish & Coffee

And that’s it… I’m finally done with this monster of an album… now I can sleep tonight… it’s past 1am now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Album #9: Sign o’ the Times [The Movie]

Disclaimer: this is part of a 13,000+ word post about the album and I decided 11 days later to split it into multiple entries.
This is on the movie itself. [and it may spoil some things about songs on Disc II, but others, it might not… it’s been an interesting week…

Starring [in no real order]:
Prince
Cat Glover
Sheila E
Greg Brooks
Wally Stafford
Miko Weaver
Levi Seacer Jr.
Eric Leeds
Atlanta Bliss
Dr. Fink
Boni Boyer

Sign o’ The Times- The Movie

this is where you typically say: I hope the movie isn’t a disappointment after the book.
But this time, it’s spending time with the album. And with most of the songs between the two platforms, I’m sure they won’t be identical.
Ok, enough stalling…

After some technical difficulties, got the movie started.
Prince looks like he’s in a town where moral decay has taken hold. Lots of places where obscene sounding names. Cat is talking to this guy, demanding love, trust and sex and he’s not willing to give it to her so she runs off and Prince follows.
By pure coincidence, they wind up on the same stage for the first song [wild guess which one…]

The backing beat is the Fairlight, so I thought maybe it was the original version but recorded from the record, which is why the bass guitar is so funky and alive. But Prince is singing live and his guitar is definitely live. Cat is dancing in the background, occasionally getting the spotlight (while in shadow) to mime the lyrics- personally, I find it a tad distracting, but it’s meant to tell the story.
In this way, with Prince singing and performing and doing the live guitar solos… it gives the song a lot more gravitas and it feels more genuine and the lyrics a bit more frightening. The album version wishes it was this good- let’s put it that way.
To cap it all off, Sheila E and the rest of the band come on like they’re members of the Rhythm Nation- all holding drums like they were in a high school marching band. That made the final beats of the song even cooler.

I’ll pause the movie to describe the songs as they happen because there’s no way I’ll remember by the end of it.

Play in the Sunshine.. phew… the only part I didn’t like about it was the keyboard line. It’s the core melody that reminds you of the album version- maybe I just don’t like the melody of it or I felt it didn’t match up with the energy of all the other instruments. Sheila E was KILLER on the drums- Prince introduced her and then said “not bad- for a girl”… I said “hey, that’s not bad for anybody!” πŸ˜› I’m sure I’d heard that somewhere else, but still true. He also asked Cat (who was wearing glasses- was that for show or does she normally wear contacts) if she wanted to go out and she told him to eff off. He gave up kinda easy and just kept the performance going.
I don’t remember if I really had seen this before- but that would explain why the album version just doesn’t do it for me. I mean, it’s not one of my favorites anyway, but I like it this way better.
He slowed it down to a nice little groove- a few moments went by and I started to have a gut feeling another song was coming- gut feeling was right- “Little Red Corvette” but Prince was on piano and there was a loud Linn-drum beat that came in every now and then. That was cool 😎

Then he brings in the Housequake… I miss the Camille vocal, but everything else was… DAMN… seeing everyone jump on a certain beat (I think on beat 3)- it really brings the song to life. Cat’s dancing had some amazing moments. Prince’s performance, meanwhile, bits and pieces of it reminded me of how Morris Day performs. Maybe it’s that pumped commanding persona he’s got going here.

Slow Love is next… I don’t like this song because it’s just so boring to me. But hearing it live- the problem is that the album version is too paint-by-numbers. There’s nothing extraordinary about it- none of that Prince energy. And for a ballad like this, it needs to be a little steamier.
Him performing it love with a little falsetto and some screams- one point, he was on his back, cradling the mic stand with his foot and singing the final verse… DANG!
And “let me show you what I’m made off”- he rips his shirt open and it was on!
In the background, Cat and the guy she was with before (I’m not sure if it’s Greg Brooks or Wally Stafford wearing that big furry hat) were going at it. He was trying to woo her and she was caught in Prince’s performance, but at the end, he gives the side eye and sees the two of them together.
Slow Love could be as good as Satisfied if he gave this kind of vocal performance on the recording.

The guy is at the stage bar talking to this other guy, saying in disbelief how his girl wants him to talk to her (why the hell is that so hard, geesh…) and he leaves.
It was hard to know which song it’d lead too… but slowly, my gut was telling me something and it wound up being right. “I could never take the place of your man”… in this case, I don’t know if Prince is serious or not. Cat’s giving him the eyes and he’s rolling her eyes playfully at her and singing the song to her. I remember how she was dressed- short black top with a black party skirt with white polka dots.
I think Greg is the guy in the hat cuz she called the guy at the bar Wally.
This song sounds a lot better with the full band behind it.
The breakdown kinda works here where they’re using it as a breather. But on the album, to me, it still doesn’t make sense. Those extra 2-3 minutes could’ve gone to another song. Although I have no idea what I’d put here.

Again- it took a while, me trying to figure out what the song was. We see Cat dancing, almost grinding, at a wall and Prince and the guys in his band are checking her out.
The beat reminded me of Housequake, but slowly I recognized it and I was both excited and terrified.
Hot Thing is the first song on the album on the ones so far that are among my favorites, so I was hoping, again, it wouldn’t make the album version feel obsolete.
It didn’t- both versions are great, but for different reasons. The beat really came to life and the synth riff I love so much was still there. But by comparison, the saxophone didn’t sound as great as it did on the album. Maybe because it’s such a stark contrast to the rest of the music.
I think I remember the Peach and Black guys mentioning Prince flying under Cat and ripping off her skirt. That happened so fast, I was like “damn!”… she was dressed in yellow, skimmy top with a yellow tutu and yellow underwear underneath. For a second, I was thinking about the song “Sister” [except she don’t wear no underwear… and so on…]. She and Prince were getting into it on stage. Underneath, they were on either side of a support and they were grinding almost like they were having stage sex without touching.
It was kinda hot…
But yeah, my favorite performance so far- but that’s also a little biased πŸ˜‰

Whew- that was high energy.
So the band was jamming (might have been a Madhouse number- I have no idea), Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss and Sheila E got a killer solo.
Then we got into “U Got the Look”-which is basically the music video. But in the context of this “movie,” it has an interesting part to play. Sheena Easton comes in as this other girl that catches his attention. I think there’s at least three of her- three different outfits. And she’s freaking bad-ass. But at the end, Cat drags him away and there’s an epic guitar solo.
I’m not sure, but the beat feels like it’s a little slower than on the album.
But this was good fun- such a fun song.

I’d been pausing so often to write notes on the different songs- I’m only halfway through and I began at 9:45… it’s now 11 πŸ˜›

Cat is lying in bed (in lingerie obviously), just finishing up a call with a girlfriend- I assume because that’s the song it leads into.
Prince is still dressed in the fur he wore to the previous number.
“If eye was your girlfriend”… I mean, I still prefer the Camille vocal and I love the sparse arranging. This doesn’t completely beat it, but it comes close with its own flavor. I had no idea how Motown this song was- the way the band was playing and how Prince was singing with those of that falsetto flair- there is a song that it reminds me so much of, but I have no idea what it’s called or who even sang it. That’s how out of my field of expertise I am. [The song I’m thinking of has a similar feel to “La La La means I love you”- whoever sings it, it’s a guy singing in falsetto. Smokey Robinson or someone very similar].

It took me by surprise when suddenly Prince broke the 4th wall- I’m like “whoa, he’s talking to me” πŸ˜› and he invites us over to look at a ring in a jewelry store window.
“Forever in my Life” was just as good as the original. Prince’s lead vocal has more gravitas and honesty to it and just felt stronger and more emotional. But I didn’t care as much for everyone else singing back-up vocals. (I’m sure Captain would balk at the fact that they didn’t correct the alignment of the backing vocals for this version). After a while, the whole band came on stage and it felt like a good finish to a concert. That sense of unity. Then Boni Boyer had the greatest moment of her night so far with a lot of good soul. No wonder Prince continued in that direction and brought Rosie Gaines into the band a little while after that. [I’m not a fan of what she brought to these performances- particularly the ICNTPYM vocals, but this is great].
Then they did a mash-up with the backing beat of the first song, the band chanted “all right” and Prince added some lyrics from “IT”… and here, it worked. Didn’t sound borderline insane or sleazy. Although I didn’t like the harsh screaming later on- it’s not the typical Prince scream or screaming- it kinda grated. But that’s just me.
Then there’s the fact this just went 2-3 minutes too long for me.

Then the pause button inexplicitly disappeared so I had to sit through [haha- that makes it sound like a bad thing] the last two numbers before I could come back here.
“It’s Gonna be a Beautiful Night”- yesterday when I heard this was in the movie, I was so excited about it. It wound up being kinda disappointing. The vocals on the lead line sound a lot better live because they’re hard to hear on the album. But the rest of the music, it sounds better on the album. The horn section sounds amazing on the album, but here, there isn’t that same oomph.
Cat shimmying and knocking everyone out- that was cool. Prince got behind the drums when Sheila E did her wrap. He didn’t knock it out of the park the way I’d seen him, I think either in the America video or the Lovesexy tour in Dortmund.

Then we went into “The Cross” where they showed clips from the rest of the movie.
I have no idea why he ended with this- it’s not as if something tragic happened and that was the way of answering it.
The relationship problems Cat had with Greg Brooks didn’t feel like it warranted this great moment of clarity. Live, this song is great. But it carries more weight, for me, when Prince did it alone in the studio for the album.

and they ran the credits with the beat of Sign o’ the times playing in the background. Aside from the “oh yeah!” at the beginning, no vocals… and it sounded cool that way.
I thought maybe “Adore” would come here- but maybe I’m thinking of some other credits for some other Prince product.

Every song on the album got played except:
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
Starfish & Coffee
Strange Relationship
Adore

I know they didn’t fit into the storyline of this so-called movie (it’s a concert film if anything) but c’mon, those are three of my favorite songs from this album!
I’m not the biggest fan of Adore- but it kinda felt incomplete without it.

Also- a fun tidbit to connect it to the next project- the opening verse from Superfunkycalifragisexy- yeah, the one about the squirrel meat.
It’s mentioned on stage and also in the credits right before “May U Live 2 C The Dawn.”

Stay tuned later tonight for Disc II, how I rate the songs and, the kicker, how I rate the album as a whole.
…and as great as it wound up being, I already can’t wait to get into the next couple albums… the message of Lovesexy in particular…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Album #9: Sign o’ the Times [Disc I]

Disclaimer (written after 11 days of post composition):

So now, I gotta decide… whether I should split this post into different entries… I think I’ll copy and paste everything into Word and see where we’re at. There is a LOT here.

Dang- I haven’t done this with any of my other posts so far- but I’d written over 13,000 words about this album and still counting. That’s freaking insane.
Single-spaced, it goes from 30 to 22 pages. and the halfway point is just a little before I go to the second album… so there’s A LOT here.

So I get the first Disc I posted, then paste everything from the move into another and then I’ll finish up the one on the second disc later tonight. After giving the whole disc one final run through (but also finishing the Peach & Black discussion)…

[Back to your regularly scheduled programming]

Disc I with a little Camille commentary

This album is a monster…so in all likelihood, this will be yet another long post. Not just because it has 16 tracks, 2 compact discs and 4 sides on vinyl, but because of its history.
Although I don’t know too much about all that… just that Prince had a lot going on in 1986 after the Parade era wrapped up.
A few people have their own view of what happened, but only Prince really knows the answers.

The commonly accepted story [which Matt Thorne spent a “better” part of one chapter- one of four on this album’s evolution- disputing] comes from Prince “historian” Per Nilsen, who wrote “Dance Music Sex Romance,” a massive book covering Prince’s career up until 1989.
The next album was meant to be called “Dream Factory” and it was the next album with The Revolution. But then Prince broke up the band and the project was abandoned.
Then he started working on Camille- which was meant to be another side-project and “protΓ©gΓ©” type album- ultimately, it’s an 8 track album where the lead singer is him with a sped-up vocal. But again, it was abandoned.

This was then followed by the legendary 3-disc album Crystal Ball, which compiled tracks from the two abandoned projects. A project so massive Warner Bros had to put their foot down and tell him no and try again with a shorter project.
A couple of disputes had already occurred between him and his record label, but surely this was one of the biggest contributions to his eventual departure from Warners. They were concerned about an oversaturation of the market of Prince music. Not to mention the previous couple projects after Purple Rain didn’t blow up to the same proportion and, in some regards, were deemed failures.

Looking back and taking into account how Emancipation [Prince’s dream 3-disc album he was “born to make”] fared, it might have been a wise choice on their part. But it doesn’t take away from the fact the die-hard fans never stopped craving the release of these projects.

Matt Thorne wrote how Dream Factory never existed and how it and Crystal Ball were merely cassette tapes where Prince recorded music to listen to in his car and they were named as such after the final tracks. He also quoted Wendy and Lisa saying that Dream Factory never existed.
To a degree, I could understand how maybe we could have all had it wrong all these years. But again, something didn’t sit right. Journalists can quote people and use those words to write their own narrative. That’s why Prince had this distrust of journalists engrained in him throughout his career. Although it was cool to hear from Susannah, who was the muse to so many of those great songs from the 80’s. Those quotes didn’t feel taken too out of context- they were genuine and came from a place of love. No ill-will and once or twice she declined to go further on the history of a given song. Which is understandable.

But again, my feathers got ruffled with something he said, trying to write his own narrative about things… he said that Per Nilsen was a Prince expert that fans looked to for information, but just as quickly dismissed him as the definitive source we all think he is. I mean, he probably doesn’t get everything right, but just the disdain in his tone… I didn’t like it. And despite that, he quoted him several times over the next few chapters.

I couldn’t type all this in a tweet, so I more or less said that he has to be jealous that he didn’t get there first.

Anyway- despite that first chapter or so of hiccups and raised eyebrows, there was some interesting information. There always is. There was discussion of Prince recording alone opposed to what he writes in collaboration.
How certain tracks came into being- that’s the part I’m always interested in hearing. Susannah was a good source on a bunch of them. Supposedly “Play in the Sunshine” was their last session together… that kinda puts a damper on things. Then there were some like “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” written after an argument they had. [They also touched on the Joni Mitchell influence and how she and Prince were going to collaborate and she didn’t like the song he sent her so it never took off]
“Hot Thing” got an interesting sentence or two about it, saying how it was part of Crystal Ball [the 3-disc concept album] and how there are potential sinister implications to it. I never thought Crystal Ball was meant to be a concept album, but it’s an interesting thought to say the least. That was always one of my favorites off the Sign o’ the Times set.
“Slow Love” is probably my least favorite song of those 16. I really don’t like it that much- it’s unique among Prince’s ballads, but I find it so boring and sleepy. Not to mention it’s not musically adventurous with that old-school backdrop it has. I know it was credited to someone else, but I got the full story on it. It was written by model/singer/actress Carole Davis and Prince’s attorneys offered her co-writing credit and lots of money if he could have it. That would explain why it’s not quite his style. Then I found her version of the song [as it was released on a 1989 album of hers]… the vocal arrangement is interesting as it has layered vocals on the chorus and it gives it a different feel. It’s also a little more up tempo and musically busy. Prince, for whatever reason, gave it the old school treatment I disliked so much. [She gets co-writing credit because the whole song is hers, but he added the final bridge about racecar drivers].

“It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night” is another track I don’t like much on the album and I got some interesting tidbits on that as well. It was recorded somewhat spontaneously when the Parade tour was in France. [I say somewhat because Prince set up a mobile recording unit as he did with those Purple Rain tracks at the August 3rd 1983 First Avenue show]. But then he took it into the studio and added an influx of overdubs.
One sentence noted that he took this full-band Revolution performance and overdubbed it with contributions from what would become his new band. One of which was Sheila E who does a rap- I had to read that it was her because I had no idea who did it, what its purpose was or why it sounded a little off. Supposedly Prince was recorded her performing it over the phone.
But it doesn’t meant I’d rather have a couple other songs on its place– since it is a LONG track for this album. A cut over 9 minutes.

“Housequake” was discussed in the Camille chapter. At first he talked about how these songs were an early indication of Prince’s distaste of the growing hip-hop movement. I never really picked that up, but then they mentioned how Housequake was a smack against Chicago house music. You look at the lyrics and it makes a lot more sense.
There was also much ado about “Shockadelica.” Not just being the first official Camille track that was recorded, but also how Prince was inspired to write it after hearing an early copy of Jesse Johnson’s album of the same name.
Princevault says that Prince heard the album and wrote this song to draw attention to the fact Jesse’s album didn’t have a title track to go with such a kick-ass title- then he released the song to a local radio station a couple weeks before his album was set to be released and perhaps it was meant as a joke- for people to think Jesse stole the name of his album from Prince.

The Shockadelica album is on YouTube and it looks like it may have been officially handled by the Universal Music Group.
Anyway, anyone who thought Prince was inspired by this album to conceptualize his new direction… I don’t really see it, or rather hear it. To me, it sounds like another take on the MPLS sound. The beats are sick, but not many of the tracks are memorable- except for “Crazay” which features Sly Stone (I remember seeing the video for it during that VH1 Soul protΓ©gΓ© marathon… Sly kinda looked like a weirdo, but he kinda was, I guess… I don’t know much) and “Do yourself a favor” because Prince recorded a few years earlier.
Yeah, with a name that cool for an album title, why the heck not have a title track?

I also listened to the first Madhouse album. I remember hearing Eric Leeds talk about it on the Mica Paris 2003 BBC radio show. Prince asked him to his house to work on these tracks with him. They finish- Eric goes home late at night, in bed, ready to turn off the lights when Prince calls him and says he needs to come back. He was so inspired that he had to get these tracks done or they’d lose them.
According to princevault, the songs were recorded September 28-30 1986… so yeah…

I remembered a couple of the songs, but not all of them. The ones that stuck out were the first one (of course because it’s the first track) and #6, which was released as its only single. We hear Vanity’s recording [the infamous one from “Vibrator” and “Orgasm”] a couple times… man, she must have really lived to regret that, assuming she was aware that sample was used for two other tracks.
Reading up on them, it wrote on #4 that it was often used as the musical interlude to “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”… that’s pretty cool. I can totally see how it fits.

One final comment before I start into album talk…
I watched the last part of that interview with The Revolution with Yahoo!
It was pretty awesome- just like all the other parts were.
Wendy talked about knowing the moment when Prince was going to disband The Revolution. They were in Yokohama Japan. Prince invited people on stage, which he never did. He never looked at any of them and at the end he smashed a couple guitars. And there was this weird thing afterwards where Prince kept “sending out smoke signals” and asking them back. Brown Mark said he asked him to be part of the NPG and he said “didn’t I just quit?” He apparently left the band before the Parade tour- I think Prince knew this and that’s why he offered his band Mazarati “Kiss”- before realizing its hit potential and took it back.
Wendy said how she and Lisa worked on a bunch of tracks from the album except the title track of course. And how he had himself spread over so many things and maybe realized it was time to dial it back and do things by himself again.

Sounds like what happened with Musicology, although in less dramatic fashion and the album wasn’t as huge as this one… Prince decided to go back to formula by doing all the instruments himself the way he hadn’t in a long time.

reading up on some of the tracks, they had some of the same information.
“The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”- not just part of his April 14 2016 playlist, but he said he got the idea for it in a dream and claims it wasn’t inspired by the person of the same name. Also, there was a technical issue that made the production murky- it was the first track recorded on new studio equipment and it wasn’t hooked properly and there was also a power outage. The Peach & Black guys talked about the sound quality not being great, so this would explain why. As long as Prince is cool with it, in the end, that’s all that matters.

“U Got the Look”- Sheena Easton said she recorded her backing vocals separately, without hearing Prince on the track, so that does make things a little extra interesting.

The rest… I’ll just go into as I cover the tracks.
I’m half thinking of spending one week with each disc, giving each disc their own rating and then adding the numbers together at the end to rate the album as a whole.
Should make things extremely interesting… seeing which disc is stronger than the other and whether one of the discs is individually stronger than some of the other albums.

It’ll all unfold soon enough…

By this point, I think I’m just clearing out all the inventory as I’m going through this album. First, all the Revolution stuff- interviews I had saved. One was with Yahoo and another was with Sirius. Good thing I saved it for later in the day because the first topic was how everyone got the news of Prince’s passing. That cold reality.
I also listened to Peach and Black talk about the Peterson brothers, St. Paul and Ricky and how they were touring in Australia. Aside from some great musical clips from them (and Sheila E., whom they toured with), there was some good classic hilarious P&B moments where some things said just don’t come out right and clarifying things [how MC is a “man of mystery” who doesn’t want to give away where in Australia he lives- and still won’t listen to “Resolution” and that Captain wouldn’t resort to violence but don’t talk to him during a concert… also, Toejam wrote their first theme song “Shoot the Duck”… I kinda miss it now, actually πŸ˜› it was only those first couple shows]

My tastes on these songs are pretty much set in stone. I have my favorites and I have a few that I’m not 100% on board with.
But I found a few instances on the way home listening where I remember how, even with just these 9 songs to start, you need a lot of time to really digest everything going on with the album.

Right now I’m kinda reading about a couple tracks on Diffuser.fm where they’re doing a Prince track a day for a year. “Starfish & Coffee” I’m on now and Cynthia Rose really was as eccentric as the song suggests.
There was also an interesting comment by Tavis Smiley, how Prince loved having deep talks on all kinds of subjects… what I would have given to have had that opportunity… I’m not the most confident person in the world, but I imagine Prince could have unlocked so much in me- I don’t mean that as innuendo, I’m being serious. The context for this being Prince wanted to know everything about Susannah’s classmate before writing the song.
http://blog.thecurrent.org/2016/11/susannah-melvoin-on-the-hidden-tenderness-of-prince-and-the-story-behind-starfish-and-coffee/
There’s more to the story beyond this and I downloaded the rest of the interview to check out later in the week. But it really gives the song new life, even though it’s easily one of the highlights. On an album so chock full of amazing music, sometimes it can get lost. But I’ve always liked it.

I’d been thinking a bit about the configurations of the albums leading up to this. And also what Camille and Crystal Ball might have been like as concept albums. Interestingly, Hot Thing ends Side 2 and the side 3 has Crystal Ball- making true the lyric “tell them you’re going to the Crystal Ball”- as if that’s another world where all kinds of crazy happens.
Maybe not their original versions, but I have “versions” of all the Camille tracks- so either tomorrow or Thursday, I’ll give it a listen and add comments.
I heard “Housequake” today and couldn’t help but thinking what it could have been within the concept of its album. There’s also a longer version that has a sample from that Jesse Johnson/Sly Stone track.

“Sign o’ the times”- Prince introduces the Fairlight sampler synthesizer to his arsenal of instruments to give this serious song a cold subtext. I believe the Mica Paris BBC radio special brought attention to this as well- but it discussed how this was Prince’s first attempt at hip-hop, putting a bunch of beats from one machine together to create a backing track.
It was the first time he really grounded one of his tracks in serious content from headlines and really didn’t bring himself into it. “Ronnie talk to Russia” touched on this briefly- very briefly. But there’s no room for humor in this aside from maybe the random final line of lyrics.
The first time I heard it was on “The Very Best of…” and it was very brief compared to the album version. I really didn’t get it or like it that much because it was so cold.
For me, it’s a good road trip song because I can lose myself in it but it also isn’t overly distracting.

“Play in the sunshine”- it should be one of those quintessential spring/summer songs. But knowing that it was the last song Prince and Susannah recorded together [I looked it up- it was recorded in March 1986 and The Revolution disbanded in September of that same year], it makes it a little sad.
But I can fool myself into believing that everything will be okay in the end- kinda like living in a world without Prince feels like.
It always felt like a lively group performance with Prince, Wendy, Lisa and Susannah, but it was really the two of them with her on backing vocals. On a rainy day like this, it makes it feel like the sun is coming out.
the verse with the “big white rabbit” lyric- I had to look it up because I never had any idea what he said- “the color green will make your best friend leave ya, it’ll make them do the walk”

the common theme with this album, though, when it starts… I either feel it or I don’t. It’s something I need to be in the right mood to listen to.
And oddly enough, there was one time where I was in the worst mood ever, feeling isolated and cut off from everyone else… I’d just gotten back to college after winter break… I gave this disc a listen because it was the one option I had where I had no emotional attachment to it- I dismissed other albums because I ran the risk of listening to them and not feeling what I feel while listening to them and it’ll lead to something worse than disappointment.
So- yeah, this disc was a Godsend. Things got better shortly after that. I finally made good friends (it took until my 6th semester but better late than never) and college was less lonely- outside of my bubble with my homework or my Prince albums.

That got a little too personal, but I’ll keep it in.

“Housequake”… I’m not sure if the Camille vocal just doesn’t work for me or this would have been better as a live jam. Something is just missing- it could be a lot funkier if the production was different.
Sometimes I’m into and others I’m not. It’s hard to really explain. Sometimes it’s a certain lyric or musical moment that gets me excited and engaged in it.

“The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”- that’s always been a favorite of mine. I mentioned the sound quality and the comments on it and reasoning for it. But I’d only heard this song the one way and I always thought it worked.
I love the story- Prince is such a great storyteller. It’s even cooler to find out this was written from a dream. It provides a cool visual and you can picture it so clearly in your mind. And it’s funny.
Today it was easy to wonder if by “take a bath” if he meant it in the literal sense or… I don’t know… dry humping? I don’t know. As well as the “she didn’t see the movie because she hadn’t read the book first”… I thought for a moment “I wonder if that means she’s a virgin and she’d never been with a man before so seeing him naked was overwhelming”… but she’s so cool and secure in her own skin other than that time she pretended she was blind.
All kinds of weird random stuff came to mind that never had before.
But when moments like that happen, that means I’m in a good place with Prince and just enjoying myself as if nothing else in the world matters.
Also- all that aside, there’s enough in this song that anyone can relate or get their own piece of it. And there’s nothing about it that’s really offensive or weird about it that turns off a lot of people from checking into Prince’s music.
[Another thought on the “book vs. movie” line… I thought about maybe she didn’t want to see him naked because she hadn’t gotten to “read” him- as in laying hands on him, kissing or whatever else… I just picture the two of them sitting on opposite sides of a bathtub filled to the brim with foam and bubbles. He’s eating his fruit cocktail and she picks up the phone with the spiral cord when the phone rings. Then he gets out, his pants come off and she covers her eyes, overwhelmed by… you can finish that sentence yourself :P]

“IT”… I checked out the recording dates of this and “Sign o’ the times”– this was first. The reason I asked myself this was the Fairlight.
To me, this sounds like Prince had just had gotten it and he was goofing around with it and ended up getting a song out of it.
The lyrical content- I gotta quote Toejam on this one with a quote he said a number of times in his AWTIAD review “is he talking the piss or is he serious?” about whether he thinks about “it” (we’re led to assume he’s talking about sex) all the time.
I’m not crazy about the vocals or the lyrics half the time. The beat always reminded me of a bouncing basketball with a real drum on beat 1. Kinda cool and different.
These two songs have in common the fact that the beat is mesmerizing and you can get lost in it. Except there isn’t as much variation here. Musically or lyrically.

“Slow Love”… It’s so old school, but it feels kinda out of place on the album- which is weird to say because there’s no real rhyme or reason to it. It just feels out of place to me personally.
He lobbied to buy this song from someone else, but I don’t see what he saw in it.
I feel kinda bad saying it like this but it feels tame compared to his better ballads, which posed that explicit envelope or he just screamed through them.

“Hot Thing”… I was love with this song from the initial beat and I could listen to that forever. The storytelling is really cool, so much happens in it. And at the time I was listening to it, I was barely 21 myself πŸ˜› so it was like a great track to hear in my first official year of Prince fandom. Eric Leeds also does some sick sax lines that just add so much. Plus the clashing of the, I believe Toejam or MC would call it, high-hat. I guess I’ll have to pay attention that part of the podcast. It just adds that something extra that keeps me salivating to have more. That intangible something extra only Prince can bring out.

“Forever in my life”… it’s an odd note to end on, but I love it all the same. It’s a great Prince ballad without pushing the envelope of being explicit. And it’s also in his style- his odd style where it’s ok that the backing track is out of time with the main vocal. A mistake that happened in studio (one of a couple with this album) but Prince was cool with it and that’s all that matters.
It really makes it sound like Prince wanted to settle down with Susannah because he was maturing into the person he was meant to be. The way Susannah put it in that article it posted the link for earlier.

Next day-

The highlight of the afternoon was “Starfish & Coffee.” After getting to hear about the story behind it, and traffic really cleared up at that point, I was riding high on a wave of euphoria. The song really felt like it came to life and I could imagine what it must have been like knowing this girl, as if she dropped here from another planet [paraphrasing how Susannah described her].
Finding out what inspired the various songs Prince wrote is one of those things that I enjoy finding out- it helps enhance the experience. This is a case and point of that.
But if I was able to find out what all of his song really meant, I think that’d take away from the magic.

“Hot Thing”- I listened to one of those alternate versions I had earlier. I hadn’t heard this one before- it’s called a “dub version”- the lyrics were scattered throughout and you didn’t get to hear all of them, just bits and pieces. It’s all about the beat and the rhythm, which remained the same… and I didn’t mind.
It got me thinking about maybe doing a playlist of Prince songs that have sick beats I never get sick of.

Just something to think about…
but I gotta figure my way through the rest of the albums, what my top 100 Prince songs are, and I have another mix I’d been meaning to get together for ages (my favorite ballads of his).
One thing at a time…

I listened to the Camille stuff today. It started out great until I got halfway through. I think “Shockadelica” scrambled my brain.
“Good Love” felt too much like a Lovesexy track (which I think it wound up becoming) and ran too long.
“If eye was your girlfriend,” I’ll definitely get to later on in this post. and “rockhard in a funky place”- like Prince said at the end of the recording “what kind of f*** ending was that?”

“Rebirth of the flesh”- I don’t remember if I’d ever heard it before. But it blew my head off- it was from a live 1988 recording, released from the NPG music club (I forget who I got this one from… probably one person I got dozens of random Prince music from… he was adamant about bootlegs being part of the overall experience).
It was great as an album opener for sure.
And that feeling carried over to “Housequake.”
“Strange Relationship”- I had so many good vibes from this song… also nice to have another “familiar face”…
“Feel U Up” came on… I tried not to let the lyrics get to me too much. It kinda works with the Camille vocal, but not entirely. This was a longer cut of it and as it went on, I just got sucked into it and that feeling carried over to “Shockadelica”… it was great as a whole up until that track ended.

I’ll have to spend a little time alone with this album… and by alone, I mean without distractions. Really get the feeling for the album… this would have been amazing if Prince released it πŸ˜›

Going through the first couple tracks with Peach & Black… I think they might have informed my opinion of the production a bit.
I don’t know what is with me, but a couple times I was thinking how these songs could have been better live.
I did see the Sott movie once- it was a couple years ago… I thought for sure that I wrote a post on it, but I can’t find it anywhere. [Shame on me- I document EVERYTHING when it comes to Prince]
(spoiler alert: I found the movie online and just finished writing about that- that’ll be a separate post)

I remember Captain having a hot and cold response early on… just didn’t remember if he loved or hated “play in the sunshine”… his comments on the title track had the others, not quite flipping out, but in disbelief. He doesn’t believe Prince is being genuine, more like he just read a bunch of newspaper headlines and did his own version of “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles.

more random Camille commentary…

“Feel U Up” has such a SICK beat. The music is so… amazing! But the lyrics kinda mess with that a bit. I guess it pays not to really listen to them. Cannot help grooving it. Oddly, I really like the horn line on the chorus, which is playing a lick originally played on synths- which Prince used to replace horns early in his career.

I think “Housequake” has been steadily growing on me. I listened to the 7 minute version and it’s pretty sick. Mostly instrumentals and they have the final round of lyrics with the “aftershock” part and “everybody shut up, listen to the band.”
I can understand why he had “Shockadelica” as the B-side to this because they both have a similar beat.
But I tell you- I feel almost possessed when I hear that song… it’s just something else. I think I read that it was taking the world of “Darling Nikki” to the next level.

“Good Love”… ok, that’s crazy. Jill Jones does the back-up vocals on this. I thought for sure it was Cat. But apparently there was only the one recording of this according to princvevault. It felt like more of a Lovesexy track than something that belonged with everything here.

The sequencing is brilliant- though- starting with two uninhibited party tracks, introduce romance with “Strange Relationship” and showcase all sides of love, lust and so on.
And “Good Love” is the perfect bridge to “If eye was your girlfriend”- that’s the only way it would have worked.

In the future, I’ll have to spend time with these 8 tracks and really figure out what the underlying message of the album would’ve been.
But I can only go through it so many times right now πŸ˜› this is the 2nd time and that’s enough. Let’s just say there are two tracks here I do not want to get sick of.

On Peach & Black, everyone loved “Housequake”- so much they practically quoted the whole song. There are some great lyrics, no doubt about that. I just don’t always invest like I do with Prince’s ballads or when he’s storytelling or whatever the heck.
But it is kinda nice having the added opportunities with it so I’m not being totally dismissive of it.
There was debate of “Dorothy Parker” and the “book vs. movie” line… I have my version of said events above.
“IT” was such a fun conversation- just because you have to go there- there’s no avoiding… all those innuendos, everyone cracking up. For a second, I thought this would be another of those infamous weird tracks that Captain is a huge fan of. But nope… he used to skip it, now it’s not as bad, but it’s still not great.
He does love “Starfish & Coffee” though- one of his favorite Prince songs. Which is nice to hear. He does love the poppy stuff.

Hearing Susannah talk about Cynthia Rose on that interview… just wow… and she’s selling merchandise based on the song, but it’s for another reason. She was talking about there not being a lot of talk back then about Spectrum disorders and she and Prince recognized Cynthia was on it and they both did things to raise awareness of it, which I thought was really cool.
The things you don’t get to know about Prince until he’s no longer with us.

Either she or Wendy talked about Prince not letting people in easily and how he got more secure with himself while with The Revolution. But after a while, those walls came back up because he couldn’t be that person all the time.
I don’t know if I’m personally projecting or what, but the more I hear about him, the more I see myself in him. How he is with other people. It’s hard for me to be open with anyone, really.
Case in point- it’s hard for me to say when I really want to do something special because I don’t want to risk being told no to… but when it’s something really important, I have to say something or it’s just not going to come out right.

And reviewing this album just got harder πŸ˜› some stuff I’ll go into on another post… which I’ll write once I get something special in the mail.

it’s tempting to save the rest of this part of Peach & Black for Monday… but I’m finishing now, so I can get back to the album tonight- and then I can do my scores and rate it.

“Slow Love” is getting so much love right now… I just don’t get it.
“Adore” is one of Prince’s most beloved ballads… and I will go into that as well.
But calling “Slow Love” underappreciated and on the same level of “Insatiable”… MC has gotta be nuts. Again, don’t get it… maybe in another decade, but just not right now.
If it’s good for anything, it’s a nice breather track before “Hot Thing” which is absolutely nuts IMO. So good!

I was afraid it would get panned, but everyone loved the song- which is great.
I wanted to high-five Toejam and then Captain for their comments. Captain said it was a beat so good you couldn’t stop listening to it. Toejam just did such a glowing review- and said something like “I was going to make this comment during “IT”- it’s not “Hot Thing”… yeah, they are similar in that they’re beat-driven, but this song has more going on.
So much love for everyone involved and what would it be like without Eric Leeds?
…it wouldn’t be nearly as good. It just gives it that something extra.

“Forever in my life” also got a lot of love. It made the Peach & Black top 20 list of Prince songs, which is surprising for something so simple. I can’t say what it is about it, but it’s just nice… and kinda different… and Prince singing in his normal register…
This is a song non-Prince songs would love.
Captain extended his thoughts on “Hot Thing” by saying that this album has more sparse arrangements than you realize. Which is kinda nuts when you think about it.
Then there’s the whole talk about the backing vocals being out of time and that being a mistake.

I didn’t know for years that that was an error that happened in recording that Prince decided to keep (one of a bunch on this album… again, crazy).

One thought I had earlier in the week… this album has two discs. Even though it doesn’t feel particularly cohesive, Disc I feels better put together. While the second disc feels like a bunch of random leftover tracks from the previous projects and there’s no real rhyme or reason to their arrangement.
I’ve had this thought about Emancipation where the first disc feels very cohesive, the 2nd disc somewhat and the third is just a jumble of the political or external conflict tracks (not all of them are focused on Prince personally, at least not as much as the previous few).

So here’s the play-by-play, and this time I’ll have my brand new Excel sheet up at the same time I’m writing all this.
I made it up last week as a way to simplify steps I’ll be taking later- figuring the order of my albums as well as dealing with my top 100 Prince songs, whatever they wind up being.

SIGN O’ THE TIMES
For Prince, this was a lot of firsts in one song. Ok, maybe two. The first officially released track where he relied solely on the Fairlight sampler. And also the first time he released a track completely focused on current events- not really focusing himself at all. The lyrics are poignant and timely (for 1987). The music is all samples with some guitar work. Very percussive and cold.
The question is whether the idea of the song is better than the song itself… or if it’s something people will connect with as they had his previous work.
Technical Merit [which takes into account the music, lyrics, vocal performance, song structure and whether it’s unique to Prince to the point it stands out]- 3.5
-for me, the music & lyrics are brilliant and work for their intended purpose. I didn’t give much to vocal performance because it’s deadpan and doesn’t necessarily grab you. The song itself runs a tad long at times, and while Prince was one of the first to really address issues like AIDS, drug abuse and so on in his music, the song isn’t so special for me to give it full credit on that last thing.
Components [which is how much I personally like the song]- 3 (which I typically assign to songs that I like sometimes and other times, I’m neutral… but this is only because I’m not a fan of this style for Prince within his catalogue. The music and lyrics work for this number, but they don’t maintain my interest after the song ends)
Total score- 6.5

…yeah, not off to a great start. But from my first listen on The Very Best of…, I was never fully on board with it.

Play in the Sunshine
When Prince is down in the dumps about something, he always brings about something light and fun to bring the morale back up. This is another of those cases.
Technical merit- 3.5 [something about the music feels a little off to me, like it would’ve sounded better as a live version, it runs a tad long sometimes and while it has that Prince flavor to it, he’s done this style of song before with greater success]
Components score- 3.5 [I’ll take into account there have been great sunny days where this song has worked well for me… but it’s not one of the first ones I immediately go to for a good time]
Total score- 7

Housequake
Who in this house no about the quake?… I might be starting to… this is where things start turning around
Technical merit- 5 [yeah, I can’t fault any of those 5 points. It’s a Prince classic that people remember well, the music has some great moments, super quotable lyrics and it’s a good jam]
Components score- 3.5 [it’s not among the songs I have to take out and play for the heck of it. The real reason behind this score- I like it better than the title track, so it needs to be a step higher]
Total score- 8.5

The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
This is getting a good score, no doubt about it.
Technical merit- 5 [even though there was a technical issue while recording it that hurt the production, I’d never heard this song any other way than this. Great drum programming, cool lyrics, a well-written song, good performance on Prince’s part and his charisma on this gives it that extra point]
Components score- 4 [as much as I want to give it a tic higher because I like it better than “Let’s go crazy,” which I also gave the same score… I like this song a lot, but it’s not one of those Prince songs that hits me over the head with awesomeness. It’s kinda understated and that’s why it works so well]
Total score- 9

…things are starting to turn around, but then this song is next…

IT
Oi! way to break the momentum… anyway… this song has a short title, but it’s hard to describe what it even is. I just figure Prince is playing around with the Fairlight in the studio, goofing around and this happens as a result.
Technical merit- 3 [the drum beat and atmosphere of this is good, the lyrics are decent, the vocal varies from being over the top to being brilliant, there’s a progression of intensity but really, it doesn’t qualify as a song. Gotta give Prince a kudos point for just being ballsy enough to put a track like this on an official release]
Components score- 3 [Don’t like it or hate it… one of those “I couldn’t be more neutral” tracks]
Total score- 6

STARFISH & COFFEE
and another good one… a nice nursery rhyme type song with a super memorable chorus and if you set your mind free, this track can take you places πŸ˜‰ and for a Prince song, that’s the ultimate compliment.
Technical merit- 4.5 [the debatable point is whether this song is unique to Prince… anyone could’ve written something like this and had a massive hit. But it gets half a point for that because, dammit, people remember this one and enjoy it for years to come
Components score- 4.5 [this isn’t top tier for me, but I always enjoy this song whenever it comes on. Even more now after hearing the full story behind it… never got to say this, but one of my favorite endings of any song ever- that cymbal ends it on the perfect note, love that!]
Total score- 9

…and the rollercoaster continues…

SLOW LOVE
The components score will be tricky on this one… it’s a ballad and not a particularly memorable one. Not for me, anyway.
Technical merit- 4 [Prince has done many ballads in his career and this gets lost in the shuffle. Mainly because it doesn’t have those nuances that let you know it’s a Prince ballad… although he technically didn’t write this one fully himself. The music is played just right, good lyrics, really good vocal performance and as a song, it moves well with all the verses and choruses you’d expect a standard song to have]
Components score- 2.5 [I’d skip this one if not for the album its on, and I don’t like skipping tracks on Prince albums unless I absolutely can’t stand them… which is kinda rare, actually, but it will happen]
Total score- 6.5

…and we finally stabilize…

HOT THING
With a sick beat like this, you really can’t go wrong. But having a compelling storyline, great saxophone playing and energetic vocals helps a lot
Technical merit- 4 [the structure of the song breaks down towards the end where it becomes an extended jam. and among Prince songs, it’s good, but it’s not as strong with that something extra compared to some others… yeah, I gave Housequake a higher score, I’m surprised too]
Components score- 5 [I always get excited when this song comes on. End of story]
Total score- 9

FOREVER IN MY LIFE
Kinda of an odd way to mark the halfway point of an album, yet it somehow works. From nearly every standpoint, one of the simplest Prince songs ever, yet it makes an impression. Because it makes you feel something.
Technical merit- 4.5 [it’s funny how the x-factor is the most debatable point on this particularly disc… Prince has written a lot of music leading up to this point, but my feeling seems to be he’s accomplished the same songs but much better on other songs. That’s something worth its own discussion… this post is already going to be too long]
Components score- 4 [another one I like a lot, but don’t love it or go out of my way to listen to it… I’d call it an underrated Prince ballad if so many people didn’t love it as much as they do]
Total score- 8.5

so adding another factor of discussion… in addition to adding up all my scores for the songs, the album and dividing points by point possible… I’ll look into the technical total vs. components total…

This disc, I rated higher on technical merit by 4 solid points. [But it seems like every album scores higher technically than on the other scale… except for one, funny enough…]

Total- 70… divide by 90… 7.8 out of 10.
So far, that puts it on equal footing with Controversy… but the whole Revolution era plus 1999 kinda destroys it. But this is also only one disc out of two.

The second disc might help gain some ground, but it might not be enough…
It’s made of 7 tracks… I feel very strongly about how it starts, but how it finishes… that would throw a wrench into the works.

Man, wouldn’t it be something if I gave this album a score nobody expects… and Emancipation winds up scoring higher? That’d be insane…
Going back to Controversy, it wins on the technical side and SotT wins on components.
And funny enough, it beats Parade on components… mostly because I find those songs good, but some are fairly average.

Okay, I won’t be spending THAT much time comparing albums… that’s for another post. Just thought some of my findings were kinda interesting.
Sadly, as it performed, I think it’s the stronger of the two discs.
Disc II has two songs that are among my favorites by Prince and the rest vary from “I like it a lot” to… not meh, but I’m not personally affected as much.

I don’t know if I can wait a whole week to do this again πŸ˜› but I need something to look forward to at the end of the work week… and it is almost 1:30am.
I need sleep…

Stay Tuned for the Sign o’ the Times movie and part 2 where I rate the second disc and its 7 songs and give my rating of the album as a whole…

[looking at the post after shaving half of it off… yeah, that length is a lot better]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Prince album # 8: Christopher Tracy’s “Parade” Under the Cherry Moon

Not sure if the numbers are going to back me up on this one [per my ratings system], but this was always one of my favorite Prince eras. I mean, “Purple Rain” is hard to top and this doesn’t necessarily top it.
But I’ve always looked back on it fondly- to the point where I was planning for this to be the last chapter I wrote for The Word. A book where I was going to explore Prince’s music, much the way I had on this blog, talked about the albums as a whole, which songs stood out, my likes and dislikes, and in the end, I was hoping to help admirers of Prince to rediscover his music and to create new fans. Particularly out of people who just dismissed Prince as a weirdo.

But if you wanna get technical, he IS a bit of a weirdo. And if anything shows that, it’s his sense of humor in ‘Under the Cherry Moon.’ But more on that later…

This chapter in Matt Thorne’s book was actually not that bad. It didn’t have that one moment every chapter has where I take a proverbial step back and flip the hell out. He did say that most of the tracks on this album are “essentially pretty filler”… and that’s fine. Most of them aren’t any special. At least not when you compare it to the scores of successes. There was some touching on the tour, the rapport that Prince and Jerome had on stage and how Wendy and Lisa were disillusioned by how the emphasis went so far away from the music in the concerts, how The Revolution saw the ending drawing near. But it was only touched on. Not full explored. We all have our own idea of what happened and that’s probably true of all the guys.
Dr. Fink had have an interesting quote about him being asked if he was leaving too and he stayed because he thought Prince was testing his loyalty, but he felt bad about staying on when everyone else left.

I loved how there was all this talk about Clare Fischer, really going into that relationship and why it worked so well. Brent Fischer, Clare’s son, was interviewed as well, which added more to it.
Although most of the info, I’d already learned from Peach & Black’s Clare Fischer tribute show.

I also learned a little more about the making of the movie, which was great, because I really didn’t know that much about it. I learned from a podcast discussion with Jerome that Under the Cherry Moon was Prince’s idea and much of the jokes in the script were his own ideas.
Then I found out later into it something that’s a little disconcerting… the ending was Prince’s idea!! That terrible ending was Prince’s idea.
And supposedly the movie got screened with a happy ending [this paragraph had an exchange between Harold Bloom and Bob Cavallo] and Prince changed it back.
I mean, Purple Rain had that original ending where The Kid’s parents were meant to die in a murder/suicide and Prince wanted it. Now this… what is with Prince and unhappy endings?

The movie spoils this in the first 30 seconds, but *SPOILER ALERT* Prince dies at the end. But unlike with “Less than Zero,” which I pretty much rewrote the ending of that story half a dozen times… I could never figure out how I would have ended this movie so that Christopher and Mary could run away together and live happily ever after.
On the plus side, watching it again this time around didn’t KILL me the way “Purple Rain” did. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get through that movie, or that song, without crying again.

But I’m sure that when I listen to “Sometimes it snows in April” over the next couple times, I will… perhaps against my better judgement, I put Parade in my car the day after Prince’s death. And after that song ended, I was sobbing for at least 3 minutes. Luckily at the time, I was in slow traffic getting on my exit onto the route leading to my street heading home.

It’s hard to believe- I’m talking for me personally… that this was another of those albums I didn’t want at first.
While my intentions with Prince’s music was widespread on the surface (wanting a couple albums from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s), they were also shallow in other respects. I decided what albums I wanted based on that and wanting certain periods of his life to be represented, but also based off the hits. The singles, I thought, would determine what albums were best suited to my tastes. “Kiss” was the one single of this album… and I really didn’t like Kiss. I STILL really don’t like it that much. It’s got nothing to do with the fact it’s overplayed at his concerts (just because I didn’t go to any myself doesn’t mean I didn’t come across dozens of live versions on YouTube- before he started pulling clips like crazy off there)… I’ll go more into that later as well.

Much like most of the Prince albums not on my wish list, this came about as random opportunity I couldn’t help but take.
My receipt (I started saving my receipts for music and DVD purchases when I started buying Prince albums- I never had to use any of them, other than to reference when I bought them) says June 26 2007. That same day, I got my first two [of 4] Beatles albums, the new Click Five album (something I’d blogged about before- it didn’t go well at first) and this movie. And I’m sure it was because I got curious, checked the movie rack at FYE, found it and decided to get it because I most likely will have trouble finding it again.

I already kinda knew the ending- that Christopher Tracy was going to die at the end. Prince.org, whenever you refresh the screen, there’s a different quote at the top of the screen and you can click on it to find out what the quote is from. There were several UTCM quotes, but there’s one that said “we had fun, didn’t we?” and I found out he died at the end and it was a shock.
I thought maybe it was because he had AIDS or something because I’d heard the first line of “Sometimes it snows in April” could be interpreted as dying from an illness. “long fought civil war”… I was under the impression, for whatever reason, that the movie would be about a summer love story and the guy dies at the end of AIDS.
See, I wouldn’t mind him dying at the end if there was a good reason for it. The politics and reasoning behind it just never made sense to me.

So I watched the movie and found the humor very odd in some instances. But of course I just enjoyed spending an hour or so with Prince, however I could get that to happen πŸ˜‰ and again I watched all the way through, including the ending credits. Prince was the first person that got me to sit through the entirety of movie credits LONG before Marvel did with their post-credit scenes that connected the movies together. It’s always worth it.
I remember I watched the movie in July of that year because my folks were away at Las Vegas for a vacation and they came back either later that night or the next day. My sister came in a couple times and once she said “they’re kissing again”… there were a lot of kissing scenes in this and let’s not sugar-coat it, they’re awkward to watch. But at the end, it was good that I was by myself watching it.
I’d watched it with one of my roommates and more recently with my mom… they didn’t get it. This is one of those things that really only cater to Prince fans. Plain and simple.

The album itself however is very accessible to everyone, I think. There’s nothing really unusual (not lyrically anyway), the quality of music is amazing and it doesn’t push the envelope in the explicit department. There are innuendoes, but they’re playful if anything else.

[The end of that story- my parents came back and my mom brought back the last Harry Potter book. She bought it at the airport and started reading it on the plane… hard to believe this is 10 years ago]

2014 was the last time I watched this movie, according to my blog. I knew it’d been a while, but that feels like even longer. A lot’s happened since then, it’s making my head explode just thinking about it.


Revisiting the movie again nearly 3 years later… I just enjoyed it so much. And I thought to myself- aside from the ending, the plot really isn’t that bad.
But the script is kinda bad, and so is the acting πŸ˜›

Prince’s directing earned him a Razzie as did his acting and the movie itself… OUCH… Love or $ won for worst song [that song is AWESOME- you guys know NOTHING!]… Jerome for worst supporting actor… the screenplay and Kristen Scott Thomas were only nominated, but didn’t win Razzies. Now she’s a more reputable actress. It’s so strange seeing her now that she’s so old πŸ˜› not that she’s super old, but she’s also not 25 anymore.

I mean, I get “Sex Shooter” getting a Razzie, but “Love or $” is amazing… ah, moving on.

I watched the movie like it was Prince playing a character- which he essentially is. A very fun character you just love spending time with. While making the movie, I wonder if Prince ever picked up on the fact Christopher was kind of an alcoholic. He was always drinking. Heck, in one scene, he was drunk driving.
The one scene where Tricky spills the truth about why he conquested Mary Sharon and he runs away from that woman… I never understood that. Was he so drunk that he was hallucinating? It felt as random as that Bela Legousi joke. Prince has a spellbinding personality, for me personally, but he doesn’t need to try THAT hard to succeed in doing so.

Other things that didn’t work– I didn’t care for much of the birthday party scenes and how they were shot. Like the sweeping crowd shots- just too fast and they seemed clumsy and unnecessary. The two boys growling hungrily at this hot girl that walks into the party. Someone randomly screaming in the background. All this happens while “Do U Lie?” is playing-just to give a point of reference. So many bad choices in such a short span of time.
And when Christopher and Tricky are thrown out, the camera is level with their feet instead of their heads, like Prince was trying to show depth perception. They’re up on the balcony and they later shoot to Mrs. Wellington on ground level, who opens her passenger door as an invitation.

For the first time, I think I noticed that it was raining while Christopher and Mary have that phone call and when he comes to her place afterwards, it’s stopped. I wonder if that’s a continuity error.

Also- the close-ups in the phone booth scene… it’s a little uncomfortable. As if the kissing wasn’t already uncomfortable to watch because… I mean, anyone who’d dated Prince or married him, he didn’t do that with any of them, did he?

The sense of humor and jokes… they’re hit and miss. Prince has the strangest sense of humor sometimes and not all of them make sense.
“Are you afraid of bats?”- so random… like, what? I wonder if Prince came up with that early on or he just was struggling to figure out how that scene should end.

But there were lines like “marry a stupid girl, you have stupid kids. don’t believe me? follow a stupid kid home and see if someone stupid don’t answer the door”
I laughed so hard because I remembered how prince.org had threads where people posted pictures that represented lines from the movie. Memes before memes were a thing.

Christopher saying to Mary “you’re a bit of a maniac, aren’t you?” and she’s one of those closet maniacs that just needed someone like him to bring that out.
That is so me! I’m just not comfortable with letting that maniac really take over and show beyond my family πŸ˜›

As was the case with Purple Rain, I saw the movie first and heard the music second. It’s for the same reason I look at cover art and album booklets before I listen to a Prince album for the first time. The visual gives me a taste of Prince’s vision and what I can expect.
I didn’t like most of the songs right away. The ones that stood out immediately were Girls & Boys, Life can be so nice, and Anotherloverholenyohead. That last one especially… I loved it immediately.
As cheesy as it was, I loved how “Kiss” was incorporated into the movie. It was a freaking punchline- cueing up that song after Mary says “define love…”
I liked the song more than I did originally because I finally got to hear it with its home material. But I’m still not crazy about it.

…so the game plan is… I’ll listen through the CD Monday. My custom mix (which I listened to for ages before buying the actual album)- which has all the songs in order, except for one, which is among the last three additional tracks- Love or $, Mountains (extended) and Alexa De Paris. Tuesday. And I’ll go through the Peach & Black podcast Wednesday and Thursday.

Alexa De Paris is an instrumental I really, REALLY liked in Under the Cherry Moon. And I was overjoyed to find it among the bootlegs I was gifted by another fan. Too bad it won’t count towards the overall album’s rating and ranking. But it’s one of my favorite Prince songs ever. Also might be my favorite instrumental track by him. Most likely is.
Either way, it will get to be a part of my top 100 Prince songs, whenever I get around to putting that list together. Which will be a long time off- gotta get through all these albums first.


going through princevault and the info on the songs.

Christopher Tracy’s Parade was originally Little Girl Wendy’s Parade.
And there’s one lyric in particular that was changed in the process that explains something that always felt off to me… the final verse where the devil runs for his evil car- the line before it referred to Wendy’s guitar. That was meant to rhyme, now it doesn’t- that always bugged me πŸ˜› poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme, but still…
New Position- I think it said Brent Fischer played the percussion on it, although maybe not the final album version. He also played it a month before his death.
I wonder U- Prince decided before its release to mute his vocals so Wendy’s would be the lead. I don’t know if it’s because he thought she sounded better than him or he really wanted to give her this chance to shine. But it’s a fine choice.
Under the cherry moon- it’s a little too eerie to me to read he performed it on April 14th, a week before his death, and the night he had that mid-air scare.
Girls & Boys probably got the most concert play of all the Parade songs- besides Kiss, obviously
Life can be so nice- also recorded April 21st 1985, alongside Sometimes it snows in April… yeah, the significance of that was not lost on Prince fans.
Venus de Milo got live play every now and then.
Mountains- I thought would’ve been played live more than it was- got a lot of play in the last 10 years actually.
Do U Lie?- Jonathan Melvoin played drums on it.
Kiss- I know the story of how this song came into being… I think all die-hard fans do. Prince offered it to Brown Mark’s band Mazarati, Brown Mark really didn’t like the song, but his band worked on it. Prince liked what he heard and he took it back. And that was also last done at his April 14th concert.
Anotherloverholenyohead- also got a lot of play in the 00’s.
Sometimes it snows in April- played this on April 14th, he also played this one a lot. he must have really loved this song a lot. And it’s also a beloved song among fans. Now, though, it’s a little harder to listen to. I think I also read recently that it was recorded in one take. That is magic right there. Prince decided not to use the Clare Fischer contributions, but whenever I hear it, I always miss that orchestra part where he says “I guess he’s better off than he was before”- as it’s heard in the movie.

So next part- talking about the tracks and my feelings on each of them.
Seeing the movie again and really grooving to the music- it kills me that the songs come in and they don’t get the chance to fully play out πŸ˜› I want more

The ultimate goal was to own physical copies of all of the official Prince music I own. But with Parade, it’s REALLY hard for me to listen to the physical album when it ends on such a sad note.
Luckily, I’m coming into the home stretch, mainly my road 2.5 miles up to my house where there’s minimal traffic.

I understand that’s how the story ends, but I just can’t let go out like that.
So even though I own this album, I prefer my own arrangement- everything in order with one exception… instead of after “Venus de Milo,” I have the extended version of “Mountains” 2nd to last on the disc.
That’s another thing- “Venus de Milo” is pretty, but kind of a sad song. And having “Mountains” right after it… it just doesn’t work for me. Especially since there’s nothing to cushion the blow after “Sometimes it Snows”… I’m just left to wallow in misery until I get home.
It’s more than a little fitting that it’s going to be cloudy and rainy this week. Lack of sunlight mutes the colors around me, so I feel like I’m in the black & white world of UTCM while listening to the music. But it also helps disguise the fact I’m sobbing in my car from the people driving in opposing traffic.

I hate to say it, especially now, but I can’t respect the order of songs on this album as Prince intended them. I have to end on a much lighter note- so after that song, I have Love or $, Mountains and Alexa de Paris.

but more on that later… now to focus on the album in its minted and printed form, as Prince intended.

Christopher Tracy’s Parade- it’s a fun song to kick off the album. The instruments used give you a taste of the sound you can expect to hear throughout the album. [I love how this is a very cohesive sounding album, but in some respects, that’s taken to another level]. It’s a nice sing-along, almost like a nursery rhyme.
Except for the final verse that doesn’t rhyme. I addressed this already, but I also noticed the guitar shred you hear… it doesn’t really make sense now that the line was changed to “Christopher Tracy’s piano.” I mean, Prince doesn’t make mistakes on his songs, if something is left in, he meant it to be that way. But I still kinda wonder on that one…
The strings are one thing, but the striking part of overall song is lack of bass and the different drums. We have the good old Linn-drum every now and then, but these few songs, they have kettle drums and steel drums that invoke thoughts of other lands. Namely, the south of France.

New Position- this is an old track from 1982- it makes me wonder what originally inspired this and what Prince’s intent for it was. Here, it could say a number of things. It could be in response to the people who didn’t get the last album. Or it could just be another part of the scores of innuendos strung throughout the album. I guess you could say it’s a parade of sexual exploits and relationships- it’s about the show and performance and faΓ§ade.
The steel drums brings a little something extra and different.

I Wonder U- this song is all about the vibe for me. Like these early songs in the album, a little too short. I don’t know what Prince, Wendy and Lisa would’ve done with another 3 minutes of it, but I still wish there was more.
There was a whole orchestra string section on this, but Prince just wanted the flutes. They are amazing flutes, though. Love the use of flutes in general on this album… in a lot of Prince’s work, actually. I think it’s an underappreciated instrument in his repertoire.

Under the Cherry Moon- this was a song I always thought was well put together and executed. But never one I had that extra special connection with.
Now I kinda do… I always thought it was eerie and spooky, even more so now. I sing along and my own voice comes out (although it kinda fits where Wendy and Lisa’s tenor and register is, just to fit the overall vibe) rather than following Prince’s vocals at his register.
The instrumentals really shine here. Whatever part of this was written by or influenced by John L Nelson, it’s brilliant.
[During the movie, this song plays as an instrumental and at one point, the camera focuses on the moon… I wonder if Prince thought for a second about painting the moon red to go with the song…]

Girls & Boys- one of The Revolution’s best performances. Back-up vocals paired up and split between the two headphones (that had to have been cutting edge at the time, don’t you think?).
This song always makes me smile the moment it comes on. But that also chalks up to the fact I always associate it with the performance- in the movie and the music video. I saw the music video ages before the movie. It was one of many that was shown during an interview Prince did with a couple guys from somewhere in Europe in 1999. Long hair, sunglasses inside… not a great look for him (in my view anyway). Anyway- they showed a bunch of his videos and this had to be the last one because they had it maybe halfway through to the end. Where Prince says “Boo” and Jerome is the only one laughing. I didn’t realize it was him until I saw it at least another 3 times πŸ˜› I used to laugh so hard at that. Now that I expect it, not so much.
This song should have been a single. Heck, it should be bigger than freaking Kiss. It is catchy and poppy and just feel-good fun.

Life can be so nice- as I said, this was one of my favorite songs in the movie. Other than Girls & Boys, nothing really impressed up to this point.
But getting the song in full is kind of a disappointment with what Prince wound up doing with it. Basically, he accelerated it to the speed of a runaway freight train that comes to an abrupt stop into “Venus de Milo”.
Really, all it is is Sheila E’s percussion and cowbell and Eric Leeds on flute with Prince singing over the top of it. But I love those instrumentals so much-I could listen to that for ages. [the music on this album is so good].
There’s not much to it lyrically and Prince’s vocals aren’t anything extraordinary. But I enjoy it all up to the point it goes out of control. Like he had no idea how else to end this song.

Venus de Milo- all piano and strings with Eric Leeds on saxophone in the final minutes. it’s always beautiful to listen to- I always thought of it as Prince’s version of UTCM- where he’s doing his own version of the music his father used to play.
Maybe it’s because of its placement in the movie, but I always found the ending part kinda sad.

Mountains- I remember the Peach & Black guys being kinda gobsmacked at the fact this made the top 20 Prince songs on their poll- I think #19… nope, 20, just made the list.
We do hear parts of the extended version in the movie when Christopher and Mary “run away for a couple of hours” and it’s a nice accompaniment to a massive make-out scene that might have been boring and uninteresting on its own. [I do kinda like the effect where the two of them are superimposed over her hand, blurring the images together… that’s one of the few parts of the movie Prince got right in its creation and direction].
But for all intents and purposes, it’s the song that plays through the credits- where we see the whole line-up of The Revolution in the clouds. It lets us know that Christopher is in a better place after the events of the movie. It’s that hope that makes it less of a letdown by the end of it. Also why I just have to song here…
In its originally intended place, not only does it feel out of place to me personally, but it’s hard to be fully invested when I know I’m going to be let down a couple songs later. I was fighting not to be totally depressed during it and for the most part I was. But there were some points where the energy and hope it promises comes out and I feel good. The feeling just doesn’t last long enough.

Do U Lie?- I think I got to like this one a little more over the years. Not sure if it’s one of my favorites on the album. Prince’s vocals are something kinda special, though. He doesn’t do a lot out of the ordinary, staying in the middle register, not too high or low. But this has that great playful falsetto that comes out to play.
This is another song I feel benefits from my personal playlist- it immediately picks up the mood or at least lets it come back up on its own without trying to pretend everything is daisies and sunshine. Not that that’s what Mountains is about- but I felt like it tried to make me happy when I just wasn’t up for it.

Kiss… yeah… it’s fun and playful. Very minimalistic with that almost banjo-like guitar riff and Linn-drum. I really like the video because it allows Prince to be playful and also just to dance and I love seeing him move. Just in general. And it brings out a side of him that we don’t get to see much. At least I don’t- I see him as very serious most of the time. I just don’t like hearing it ALL THE TIME. The radio plays it way too much where there are so many better songs Prince had written.
But you gotta give it up to the fact it is a Prince original through and through.

Anotherloverholenyohead [I swear, if I spelled this wrong once on this post so far]… this is another song that feels out of place on the album. Doesn’t quite fit the instrumental scheme of all the other songs. But I just love this one. Everything about it. Wendy and Lisa’s contributions, the way their vocals are timed with his- not quite together and it just worked so well.
I put the extended version on my iPod- I just hope that I get as much out of it as I wanted to with this… it starts to fade out as I’m really feeling great in that pocket.
It’s well-put together. From the first few notes- I love the interplay between the piano and the drumming that just drives it all the way through. Timing is just everything.

Sometimes it Snows in April- yeah, this song is special. A trademark of Prince’s chemistry with Wendy and Lisa. They all bring everything to this that they brought to the band’s sound and identity these last couple years.
Prince tells a great, but sad, story. It’s never boring, even though the chorus doesn’t vary much each of the three times it’s sung through. [I’m thinking it’s not quite as sad in the movie because you never hear the chorus… that’s where the emotions really come out… oh man, if I’m able to find the Musicology acoustic set video of him doing the medley, including this song… I don’t think I can handle it].
I swear (well, a lot of us fans do) that Prince’s voice starts to break up a couple times in this. Especially in the final verse. I know this was about the character in the movie, but I wonder what he was thinking about as he was singing it. Because that emotion comes from a personal place he doesn’t always bring out for all of us to see.
This will be a hard one to score- it’s great, but I can’t listen to it all the time.

Just fill it in the same list as Purple Rain and Way Back Home… songs that are near impossible to listen to after Prince’s death- because I’m only going to be thinking about that fact.
This one especially because it was recorded on that day 30 years earlier. Prince died in April. People were headlining articles about this fact, saying he predicted his death 30 years earlier. I wonder if he even realized that as that was happening to him. What he thought about in general.
I think I’ll ponder that as I get myself to sleep tonight… better than to work that out here. There’d be no point.

Not much to add today.
Listening to “New Position,” I wondered what was recorded around this time. Unfortunately princevault didn’t have anything on this other than Spring-Summer 1982. If I knew what was recorded around that time, I might have a better idea of what its original intention was.

Reading on their page on the movie really quick- the scene with the bats and the ladder scene weren’t in the original script and written while on set. Of course the bats had to be random… give me a break πŸ˜›

so I’m reading about the two B-sides.
Alexa de Paris… OMG… I love this song so much. I got so swept in the main hook that it’s one of those hooks I just don’t want to end. [Something that seems to ring true for many songs on this album that I love]. It’s actually named after someone- Alexa Fioroni, who is “the dancer” in Under the Cherry Moon. We see her in the background shadows during the opening credits and briefly a couple times during the “Girls & Boys” performance.
If I had the chance, I would have asked Prince about this song and what it’s about and what inspired it.
That sweeping hook is like a dream. Then his guitar appears several times, has some great solos, and… oh man… that ending. Love the ending- the timing of everything. And no surprise, it’s the B-side of “Mountains”… those two songs are on such equal footing for me, it’s crazy.

Then “Love or $”… Wendy & Lisa singing the title over and over gets repetitive [other people, including the ones who gave this song a Razzie might care. I certainly don’t], but there’s so much else going on that it doesn’t matter. Everything just fits together so well. This is the first instance of Prince experimenting with vocal modification, speeding his voice up to a higher pitch. Although Camille wouldn’t come until a bit later.
July 9th 1985 according to princevault… I wonder when the first Camille tracks started to appear and whether he realized then that was something he wanted to pursue in the future- songs with using that voice or some variation of it. There isn’t much to the song as far as lyrical content or a message. It’s more like a jam- maybe one of my favorite Prince jams ever. But I don’t know if I like it as much on its own as I do because of where I have it placed on my own playlist of the album.

Everything just fits so well.
“Mountains” is so great that it needs to be aired out to its full potential.
Funny enough, while “Sometimes it Snows in April” could be on a playlist of songs hard to hear after Prince’s death… “Mountains” could easily be on one about songs that make that heartache not hurt as much. Takes your mind off the pain. Not just because how it’s placed in the movie credits, but the overall message. So far, for this hypothetical playlist, I’m considering “Love” (3121), “Positivity” (Lovesexy- if I could ever get it separated from the rest of the album, lol), and “WHITECAPS” (Plectrum Electrum). I’m sure I’ll have more as I get through more of the music.

I was running out of road to listen the album to- I was so tempted to skip “Kiss” but I just couldn’t… have to listen to this album as a whole… it might have a bit of filler on it, but this is really one of those albums, not just by Prince, by anyone… I can’t skip a single song. And it’s not often I listen to the individual tracks either. Unless it’s those last three.

I thought about “Under the Cherry Moon” and the lyric “I’ll die in your arms under the cherry moon”… I started to wonder whether he really meant “die” or he meant something else… after finding out that Cutting Crew song “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight” was actually about dying of ecstasy after sex [even though that song was written after UTCM was]… you could take it a number of ways. I know Christopher Tracy dies at the end of the movie, but at the end, before saying that lyric again, he says “I guess we’ll make love under the cherry moon”…
The more I listen to it, the more I’m really getting to like it. And I feel like I might be able to find meaning in it for myself… been having some moments of uncertainty and lack of confidence lately… makes me kinda wonder if, despite the success, Prince had moments like that himself and that song hints at that.

there’s a configuration here that DIDN’T have Sometimes it Snows as the last song. And there’s also no Kiss or Girls & Boys…
The first four songs are intact (although the first song has Wendy in the title), followed by Others Here with Us, Life can be so nice, sometimes it snows, old friends 4 sale and all my dreams… yeah, that really doesn’t work. That sad song after “Life can be so nice”… just no, I’m sorry. Thematically it works, but the album’s mood would crash so hard, there’d be no recovering.

One last comment- I thought of this yesterday… I wondered if Prince was killing off Christopher Tracy to kill off a part of him… a part of him that values sex and lust over love, like it continues the narrative from the end of ATWIAD.
Based on “Anna Stesia”… it didn’t work. and if the rumors are to believed (the fact he often dated at least 2 women at the same), he didn’t learn this lesson for several years, not until he married Mayte.
[And my head is exploding going that far ahead in this narrative… that’s why I’m stretching this out as long as I am- Prince has so many sides to him and his music has so many different shades and color, I can only handle so much of it at a time. Hence the one album a week thing]

So it’s Peach & Black for the next two days.
As for the scoring system… I’m predicting it’s going to be 7 point something.
the technical merit is so high… I’m not going to give anything less than a 4…maybe 3.5 at the most extreme. If I take points away, it’ll be for song composition, lackluster lyrics or the fact they’re not particularly special or memorable in the vast canon of Prince music.
and components score… I don’t skip anything on this album and I’m not never tempted to do so (never mind what I said about “Kiss”)… so the base line will be 3.

Anyway… my guess is that this will rank higher than 1999. Which is 8.0 even.
…just because there’s nothing like “All the critics love you in New York” on here. It was one of those songs that crashed the rating.
If I could submit my personal configuration, it’d score a lot higher. Might have to take a little away from “Mountains” because this album version just isn’t long enough.

Overall, I’d say this album is stronger as a whole than the sum of most of its parts. But there are some notable peaks.
I wonder if Toejam will like this album or not quite as much. He likes cohesive albums. I can imagine Captain saying certain songs aren’t that good, but I can’t imagine him fanboying about any of them.
Player, I’m still figuring Player out.
And MC, I think this is an album he’d like. But it’s hard to be sure if there are any tracks he thinks are terrible or he absolutely loves.
I will say that I’ll be surprised if any of them still love “Kiss” despite it being overplayed.


I’m not quite halfway through the album tracklist, but close to it- not halfway through the podcast, though.

It’s been interesting so far, though. It always is. But with this album, it’s hard to know what to really expect these guys to say.

MC has been weird about this album with his likes, dislikes and comments.
Although he does have a point- the first song is kind of an intro, not quite a full song and “I wonder U” is an atmospheric interlude. But then he called “Under the Cherry Moon” ungenuine. This coming from the same guy who said “Still Waiting” had to come from a personal place. Not that I don’t believe that also. I just think he’s the guy who picks that up in certain songs and I do feel something of this song is genuine and personal to him. Even if it’s playing the role of Christopher Tracy, that is still a part of him.

Then Toejam was awesome by demonstrating the chord progressions. MC clapped after he did the first few runs. I think because it was the first time he did that in a podcast. He did it a couple more times in other episodes that it’s almost expected and not worthy of applause.
I think I tried playing the melody ages ago on keyboard, but couldn’t quite do it. The keys aren’t quite on a normal scale. I’d been thinking about this lately- I hadn’t played my keyboard in a long time, but I definitely hadn’t done it since Prince died.

A couple of the guys said “New Position” was one of the best songs on the album or would have been if it was longer.
If I ever heard what that sounded like (if a version even exists), I’ll be the judge of that.
For me… I feel like the first few songs are good for what they are, but they aren’t anything ground-breaking and they collectively set the tone. Also- they go into each other flawlessly so I can’t really picture them separately.

I expected Captain to say that “I wonder U” was most skippable, but he didn’t.
He also liked “Girls and Boys” a lot. Not to the point where he was gushing and fanboying, but sung its praises.
Player said it’s great, but you get used to it and it loses the magic. Player also has this thing- I’ve noticed- about the warehouse sound of these Revolution albums. I get the impression he doesn’t like that- which is why he gave Purple Rain a lower score than I think it deserved. Makes me curious about what albums and eras he prefers because he isn’t as jazzed about this particular era, which is very popular among fans.
Toejam said that he never really liked this one… which is hard to imagine. But then, Captain… enough said. I’d written it enough times already πŸ˜›

Then the biggest surprise for me- “Life can be so nice” getting so much praise.
MC said it was his 2nd favorite [detracting “the 2nd best” as his first statement] song on the album. That’s huge. There’s at least three songs on this album that are absolute monsters… and I think they’re the last three.
Captain said, I think, “I like this song a lot, but I don’t know why”
I think Toejam also liked this song a lot and MC was like “I’m so glad I’m not alone in this”… like he was afraid he’d be the odd man out on this one.

I don’t think it’s going to be in my top 3 on the album, but I’ve always really liked this one. Even though I’m not crazy about how it ends.

So I finished the Peach and Black review of this album and it’s another good one. I don’t think there has really been an episode yet where I haven’t been total excited or where I haven’t laughed out loud at least once or talked along with it whether or not I agree or disagree with something.

So the “life can be so nice” love fest was ended the next day when I resumed and Player said he didn’t like it as much as the other guys.
I guess there had to be someone who didn’t get it and oddly he’s the odd man out.
It’s almost always Captain πŸ˜› and it’s usually on fan favorites.

So Captain… it’s no secret that he’s my favorite member on the panel. And as much as I laugh along with what shenanigans he pulls in his commentary, I’m the most vocal when we disagree on something. More so when he doesn’t like songs I love.
I tweeted something about this and it got likes and RT’s. It’s almost always guaranteed that on any given album, the most unlikely song will be his favorite on the album and he will either not get or like a song that I’m particularly fond of.
He didn’t get “Mountains” or “Anotherloverholenyohead”. Mountains I was especially vocal about πŸ˜› then he said that since it was #20 in their poll, “obviously I’m wrong” and I pretty said “yeah, you’re totally wrong”

But that really is the best part about getting to know other people as familiar with Prince as I am and more- getting to see different points of view.
I mean, Prince is so brilliant at what he does (I don’t care- I will continue to refer to him in the present tense and not correct myself). The results are hard to argue.

“Kiss” is not my favorite Prince song. Some songs, I hate it or really don’t like it. But it’s loved by a lot of people. You can’t argue with the technical merit, obviously. I just don’t get why it’s considered one of his greatest ever from a subjective standpoint- which my components score, which includes relistenability and emotional connection, whether it’s having fun with a song or being in love with it. Depending on the song obviously.

Anyway- Kiss got good reviews from the technical point and the good argument that nobody but Prince could sing it in falsetto and make it sound good.
I will sing along with it when I’m really in the mood and I get over the top during the last chorus. It’s a blast πŸ˜› I just don’t never want to do that with any other people around.

“Do U Lie?” was Captain’s favorite on the album and I’m like “no way, you gotta be kidding me”… it’s weird, though. Because there isn’t any song on this album I outright dislike or think is overrated (ok, Kiss is debatable… man, I’m bashing that song a lot… and it was mentioned a couple times that its inclusion on the album kept it from failing commercially… as if Mountains, Girls and Boys and Anotherloverholenyohead couldn’t support this album… sucks that Europe was the only place Girls and Boys was a single).
But when I hear certain songs being hyped that I find kinda forgettable sometimes, I can’t help but argue.
The truth is nearly all the songs except for a couple standouts are on equal footing. Those four songs I listed, I consider among the best on the album along with Sometimes it Snows in April and I’m particularly fond of Life Can Be So Nice.

At this point, I think I’m just rambling and should rein it in.
Captain has a good point that “Do U Lie” is unique in Prince’s catalogue and there’s nothing else like it. That’s admirable. And I agreed so much when he said he loved the falsetto and vocal performance… it’s the best part along with Jonathan Melvoin’s drumming. That’s good stuff.

Sometimes it Snows had a really good discussion… but I couldn’t help but wonder how this review would change if they ever, as MC jokingly hinted at but I don’t think he’s serious, recorded their whole back catalog and reviewed all the albums again… what would their review be like if they did it now? When some people wrote articles titled “Prince prophesized his own death 30 years ago”.
this was MC’s favorite on the album and is very justified in doing so. No arguments. Player said the only negative is if you have this album on a loop, it’s jarring to have Christopher Tracy’s Parade after such a sad song. That’s a different version of the argument I made in this post.
Supposedly there was debate about the final lyric- whether it was “love isn’t love until it’s passed” or “until it’s had”… MC’s always heard “had.” I’ve always heard “passed.”
One last Captain comment- he said he’d like to see Prince do this song live and then do a Purple Rain guitar solo immediately after, just to see if that would sound good or not.
I think if done just right… it’d be a show-stopper and if it was the last song he did that night, that memory would stay with you forever.

I’m trying to think if there’s a Prince song I hate with a burning passion so much that if Captain said he loved it, I’d flip out and rage while I’m listening in my car on my iPod.
I don’t think so… but I’m also having trouble remembering if I hated any Prince songs that much.
At the moment, I can only think, maybe, “Now” on The Gold Experience. And that’s such a long way from here and I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before I start breaking down the song and finally rating them…
well, Peach and Black collectively gave Parade 8.5 except Player, who doesn’t like the warehouse sound and wants a remaster really bad, still gave it a 9. That was the reason he gave Purple Rain a lower score. he’s the guy I’m still figuring out, so I’m curious to see what his favorite album will be.

And I thought yesterday… one day after I’m done all these album posts… I’m going to come up with a list of my favorite Prince songs… I need to figure out a way of, well, figuring that out.
So I thought I should take my math from these posts and put them on an Excel sheet as I go.
But I don’t know if math will be able to determine everything.

Just like this album- Toejam said something that I nodded and agreed with very much. This album is better as a whole than the sum of its parts.
My heart wants to give it a high score, but the math probably won’t agree.
I just love living in its world. I watched UTCM again last night and actually spent much of the movie disconnected from it. I guess the one time last week was plenty. Almost like I’d rather just listen to it than see the visuals because they don’t all fit the songs.
I’m still trying to figure how Anotherloverholenyohead fits in the movie. Also- what does “Do U lie?” mean… is it about telling mistruths or about having sex or messing around? Or all the above? It sets the mood for the movie, but the lyrics don’t have much relevance.

Most of the lyrics don’t, really… well, maybe it’s 50/50.
After the movie, I watched 3 of the videos.
I can get why Wendy wasn’t jazzed about sharing the stage with her sister. I’m sure the Parade shows were amazing, but it looked like the stage just had too many people on it.
It was also the first time Prince had his girlfriend on stage with him… well, Jill Jones was for a time as well, but after Susannah was Cat, then Diamond and Pearl, then Mayte and after a long hiatus, the Twinz… I have no idea if Prince ever dated either of them, but it’s something to think about. It was just him and his band on stage. Then girlfriends started to become more involved.

…I should just rate this thing and stop. It’s going to be so long at the end of this.
Also Jerome talked about the Wrecka Stow and bats scene in the Funkenberry interview. They actually happened. The two of them were teasing Kristen Scott Thomas about being so English and they launched into the dialogue that eventually became part of the movie.
And the bats thing… The Time was rehearsing back in the day in a warehouse, someone saw bats and everyone ran out hysterical. He said how bats don’t fly straight. So I watched that scene in the movie and it was actually funny to me.

Kiss, I really enjoyed the video. It really benefits to have Prince performing to it. I get the fun and enjoyment of it.
And Girls and Boys… omg, love that video. And the end, I was ready to burst out laughing a few seconds too soon πŸ˜› I totally forgot Jerome calling the bandmates by name as they were leaving him to laugh himself to death. Over the top, yes, but the laughter was damn near contagious πŸ˜›

Christopher Tracy’s Parade
..another good opening track that introduces the album… I thought about it as a concept and how these first few songs could be like parade floats, how each has a different theme and a song plays with them… in that scope, you can take this to another level. But I think the Parade crashes after Life Can Be So Nice and the concept kinda ends.
A nice little ditty that shows you what you can expect for the album as a whole, as any good title or opening track should do.
Technical merit- 4 (it’s well composed, nice vocal performance, the instruments help form the identity of the album, nice lyrics… the only drawback is that it doesn’t stand out particularly in Prince’s catalog)
Components score- 3.5 (for me, 3 is average- I don’t feel strongly about it positively or negatively. 4 are for tracks I like and enjoy, but aren’t over-the-top in love with. It’s likely this album will have a bunch of 3.5’s. This earns because I like it more than average and it gets me excited to listen to the whole album. It’s just too short to warrant wanting to go out of the way to listen to it… especially when it’ll just get me in the mood to listen to the whole album anyway… come to think of it, I don’t think there are many openers I’ll go out of the way to listen to on their own. 1999 is the only one that really jumps to mind at the moment)
Total score- 7.5

New Position
…what this song could have been if it was just a little longer…
Man, this is hard. This album is structured a little weird where the first 3-4 songs fit together so well, but I don’t think of them separately and they aren’t super strong on their own. Then with the others, they’re easier to separate. Maybe Prince should have just recorded them as one 10 minute track πŸ˜› heck, if he did the LoveSexy think and made it all one track, I wouldn’t mind it either… but then there’s my personal configuration so it wouldn’t work.
Technical Merit- 4 (it’s a very solid track- I only detract a point because it has the potential to be amazing, a really good song and a Prince classic, if only it was longer)
Components- 3 (I like it, but I don’t like it enough where it’s memorable or I got out of my way to listen to it)
Total score- 7

I Wonder U
…not sure if this is really a song, but I don’t care. I’ve always liked it, the whole vibe of it, if anything else. It’s very unique in Prince’s catalogue because Wendy sings lead on it and Prince took his vocals out of it. I thought that was so odd. At the time I first heard it, I don’t think I knew it was Wendy.
Technical score- 4.5 (it’s not quite a full song… so I can’t quite give it a full score)
Components score- 4 (it’s so short, but the vibe is so strong and mesmerizing and good overall, as any Prince song should be)
Total- 8.5

Under the Cherry Moon
…I don’t think I liked this song nearly as much as I do now, so this makes things interesting.
I’m just going to go right into the score.
Technical score- 5 (he hits all the right notes, musically. Lyrically, it paints a great picture. Vocally, it’s vulnerable. It’s a solidly written song with credit to Prince’s father- whatever his contribution to this was, or whatever he played that Prince recalled while writing this… it’s brilliant. and it’s something kinda special, I think)
Components score- 4 (I’ll give this one a solid score- I don’t know if I like it quite enough to go higher. Also, I feel like I’d be too biased for this album if I gave it any higher).
Total score- 9

Girls & Boys
…oh man, this is a good one.
Technical score- 4.5 (the lyrics have a little bit of cheese… I wanted so badly to give this a perfect score, but I just couldn’t…)
Components score- 5
One of my favorites on the album for sure. The back-up vocals help make up the chorus. And it has some unique components. I always enjoy this one when it comes around.
Total score- 9.5

Life Can Be So Nice
Technical score- 4 (if not for how it ends, it would have scored higher… also some of the lyrics are a little vague and nonsensical)
Components score- 4.5 (I like this one a lot, but I don’t feel good about giving it a perfect score)
Total score- 8.5

Venus de Milo
Technical merit- 4.5 (even as an instrumental, it has a beginning, middle and end. Great instrumentals. It’s brilliant, but I don’t think it stands out necessarily in his overall catalogue).
Components score- 4 (I don’t got out of my way to listen to this one- that’s the only thing holding it back)
Total score- 8.5

Mountains
Technical- 5 (it’s an effort by the entire Revolution and it’s so brilliantly performed. Great lyrics, dreamy music I absolutely love)
Components- 4.5 (if it wasn’t so short and didn’t end so abruptly, it’d be a perfect 10)
Total score- 9.5

Do U Lie?
Technical- 4.5 (yeah, it’s technically brilliant and it is unique. But in the grand scope of all the songs he’d written, I don’t know if it stands out)
Components- 3.5 (I like it more than most. I think it’s well-written, the music really fits what he’s trying to convey in this overall soundtrack. It’s also one of the more complete songs on the album where there are a bunch that feel unfinished or under-realized)
Total score- 8

Kiss
Technical- 5 (you can’t argue with its brilliance, how unique it is to Prince, how everything is so well accomplished in it)
Components score- 3 (it’s a perfect 3- sometimes I’m so over it and other times I really get into it)
Total score- 8

Anotherloverholenyohead
…omg, the album’s almost over already?!
Technical score- 4.5 (yeah, something is just missing… it isn’t absolutely perfect where I’d feel confident enough to give it a perfect score)
Components score- 5 (again, another one I really enjoy when it comes on)
Total score- 9.5

Sometimes it Snows in April
…even if Prince was still alive, I’d still give it the same score I am now.
Technical score- 5 (it was recorded in one take, it’s raw and emotional, a great collaboration with Prince, Wendy and Lisa, one of their best ever. Great poignant lyrics)
Components score- 4 (I like this one a lot, but don’t go out of my way to listen to it… certainly now when the song makes me cry… although it was only on the one time I listened to the physical album opposed to my personal mix of it with the B-sides)
Total score- 9

So overall, the album starts kinda weak, but really gains steam as it progresses. The math should make it interesting…

Ranking the tracks from highest to lowest:
Girls & Boys- 9.5
Mountains- 9.5
Anotherloverholenyohead- 9.5
Under the Cherry Moon- 9
Sometimes it Snows in April- 9
Life Can Be So Nice- 8.5
I Wonder U- 8.5
Venus de Milo- 8.5
Kiss- 8
Do U Lie?- 8
Christopher Tracy’s Parade- 7.5
New Position- 7

Total points- 102.5 (oh man, I’m so nervous…)
divide by points possible (120- 12 tracks, each worth up to 10 points)…

8.5… the math backed me off, omg… I need to check where that stands in the grand scheme of things…
it’s my 2nd favorite album after Purple Rain… omg!

Okay, now for the rest of the albums so far…

For You- 6.2
Prince- 7.6
Dirty Mind- 7.4
Controversy- 7.8
1999- 8
Purple Rain- 9.1
Around the World in a Day- 8.3

I’m so happy, I can’t even say…

so the three I’ll bring onward for my favorite Prince songs…

Mountains
Anotherloverholenyohead
Girls & Boys

Fantastic!

And I did way too much talking in this post… but I’ll publish it now and end it.

SotT will be next and that’s going to be a monster. I just don’t know if those 16 tracks will stack up to Purple Rain and Parade. There are some brilliants songs in that set, but there are a handful I don’t care for quite as much.

We shall see… that’ll probably be another of my long posts πŸ˜› at this point, all my posts are pretty long and anyone who manages to get through them, I commend them for that.

I can’t believe my score… and it’s the same as 3/4 of Peach & Black, which is pretty cool 😎

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How’s “The Family”? [and Sheila E’s 2nd album]

Yeah, that quote from Purple Rain was said in poor taste… but I couldn’t think of a better intro to this post.
So I spent almost another full week with ATWIAD because I had to test out the playlist I just put together the other week… and I might have overstayed my welcome. I have no idea.
With Prince, it’s hard to know when to stop. Especially when I think of walking away and I’m not quite ready.

Admittedly, with this particular album [which is another generous gift from someone from .org… someone I didn’t always get along with… it’s also because of that person I have For You… also in mp3 format], I haven’t listened to the whole thing all that much. Yesterday was the first time I had in a very long time… not since I got it.

This is mainly because a lot of this album is instrumentals. And I don’t like Prince instrumental tracks all that much. “Alexa de Paris” is one of those EXCEPTIONAL exceptions to that rule.
But hearing it again… only two songs are pure instrumentals. “Yes” (which I remembered almost immediately when I listened to it) and “Susannah’s Pajamas” (which I’ll get to later… after I listen again… my memory wasn’t all that great).

I had the whole album on my iPod for some time, but just never listened to the whole thing. So after a point, I just kept my three favorites: High Fashion, Mutiny and River Runs Dry.

I’d been in the mood to listen to “High Fashion” since the previous Friday, but I wanted to finish up with the other album first…

I have that song on my summer playlist that I made up a couple years ago- and I have “Take Me with U” immediately following… plus lots of 80’s songs and a bunch of Prince-related ones.

“High Fashion” tells an interesting story- about a guy who’s into this rich girl, who looks down on him until she finds out that he’s also rich. Ah, the superficiality of rich people. I love the main groove. It’s kinda repetitive and all the interesting stuff that differentiates the track are the various lyrics, call-outs and some added instruments.
But I just love that groove so much, I could listen to it for another 5 minutes easily. Very groovy.

“Mutiny”- I actually hadn’t listened closely to the lyrics until recently. It seems to be about a couple on the verge of a break-up.
The star, again, is the music. I do like St. Peter Peterson’s vocals, even if he’s just following Prince’s guide track [in “High Fashion”- I love that line where he says “I’m riding in the back of a Rolls Royce limo custom-painted plaid”… but that might be Prince actually saying that]. Very cool groove, great rhythm and percussion and the stops and starts really suits the live setting. I know Prince had brought it out a few times… I think once in a performance I actually got to see on TV. That was a cool little surprise. Wish I could remember which one it was… It was Arsenio in 2014. I think it was his last live performance on TV, unless he did SNL afterwards. I honestly can’t remember.

“Screams of Passion”- Clare Fischer’s strings really shine here and I hear bits of it that sounds like UTCM [Under the Cherry Moon] compositions. The percussion is great again.
I like the harmonies between St. Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin.
But it is CRINGE-WORTHY to me during the part hallway through where she does her version of Prince scream and he tells her “not so loud”… it took me a while to figure it was the Prince scream, but nobody else should do that. It’s just awkward and it kinda kills the song for me, honestly.

“Yes”- great guitar delivering the lead line [if it’s the guitar I think it is, according to the princevault notes- it’s Wendy playing] with Eric Leeds chiming in, a combination of live drums and Linn-drum claps, and keyboards in the background offering up a touch of atmosphere and makes it feel like it goes somewhere. Keeps it exciting and not as forgettable as a lot of Prince instrumentals are to me. It has a lot of personality… even if it’s just Prince, Eric Leeds and Wendy on the instruments.

“River Runs Dry” is the stand-out because it’s a Bobby Z’s composition.
I thought the drumming was interesting and different and that’s what set it apart for me. But Prince played the drums and all the instruments except for the strings, obviously. I asked him in a tweet if he had it fully fleshed out before Prince recorded. Just to see how much of those drum sounds and patterns were his or Prince’s.
The strings come over the vocals a little too much sometimes- which isn’t a complaint. Just an observation.
However, Princevault says it was the first tape Prince received from Clare Fischer and it was the reason that working relationship came to be as prolific as it did. Maybe they didn’t collaborate as much outside of the 80’s, but so many songs… well, Clare Fischer contributions are Prince fan-favorites for a reason.

Matt Thorne’s book discussed the relationship between these two kindred spirits of musicians. Lots of great detail, but some I also learned from Peach & Black’s Clare Fischer tribute show.
One of these days, I’ll have to check out this man’s other compositions outside of Prince world. Maybe after this is all done- the Prince album chronology, I mean.

It caught me off guard hearing “Nothing Compares 2 U” yesterday. Not because I forgot that the song was on here. But it was one of those big songs that people were playing and covering after Prince’s death.
This is a fairly sparse composition. Nearly acapella. Some synths to create atmosphere, maybe some strings and just vocals. Kinda spooky, but also kinda sad too. I don’t know if I was just thinking about that song’s significance a year ago or if I just really felt Prince’s presence in it but it just left me on the verge of crying.
And I still had over an hour left at work, so I couldn’t let myself break down.

“Susannah’s Pajamas”- just as a “glance,” it feels more like a jam session than an actual song. VERY funky, lots of funky bass and of course Eric Leeds is another star on this one. He’s really good for those jam session tracks, even though I’m not a big fan of those. To me, a song as an instrumental kinda needs to have a beginning, middle and end. It needs variation and it needs progression to make it feels like it goes somewhere.
or I just need to really love what the music sounds like. Sometimes, that’s the make or break for me.

I got to “Desire” and had no idea that it wasn’t a pure instrumental. I don’t think I’d heard it since the first time… phew, maybe 9 years ago.
It reminds me of being on a deserted paradise of an island. It’s very tropical.
It’s also very steamy… a bunch of innuendo… “cover my tower, the ecstasy is ours”… seriously, Prince, c’mon πŸ˜› I think this could have been so much better as a Prince solo performance. Wow… the possibilities of that. Maybe too steamy for my ears and I’ve heard lots of sexy music from Prince. As I’ve said a bunch of times, he was kind of my sexual education. In finding out what some things meant, yeah, lots of sexual acts.
It’s a place so many artists were afraid to go back in that time. And nowadays, it’s really not done tactfully, if at all.

Just… nobody should try to write like this unless they are Prince. Which they’ll never be.

The lyrics are a little too cheesy on this, but the music is a stand-out yet again. It creates such a great atmosphere.

Now I’m just giving Sheila E’s second album a spin. Trying out on YouTube. I watched 5 of her videos on a VH1 soul Prince protΓ©gΓ© block years ago and I really wasn’t into her music that much, so I’ll listen to it all once just so I have that continuity.
I think I heard on Peach & Black that one song reminded them of Sheila E’s “Toy Box”… so I’ll have to give that a listen in a bit and see if I can remember.

“Sister Fate” is giving me major 80’s and Gloria Estefan/Miami Sound Machine type vibes from an instrumental perspective.
“Dear Michaelango” starts out very dreamy- but then Prince’s Linn-drum programming comes in and changes it completely. Great vocals from Sheila, though. Listening to this one in particular, I feel like it’s closer to the ATWIAD sound than Parade era. Which is kinda strange, because The Family material was recorded first for the most part and it sounds closer to Parade to me.
“A Love Bizarre” is obviously the stand-out because it’s noted as a Prince and Sheila duet… it’s also 12 minutes long. Which to me is nuts… and I say the same about the Time tracks that run 9-10 minutes long. With some, it’s justified. But with Get It Up and The Stick, for me, it does get kinda old for a while.

I’m not big on long jams, like I said.

This one is debatable, I think. Some days, I’ll be into it and others, I’ll be like “next song, please”.

“Toy Box” sounds like something from Apollonia 6, maybe that’s what the guys said on that podcast… oh,… it’s “Blue Limousine”… the main hook sounds like the melody where Brenda says “still no sign of my baby’s blue limousine”.
This song is so lively and insane πŸ˜› some great back-up vocal moments by Prince. And she has this monologue where she sounds like she’s following Prince’s guide a little too closely πŸ˜› but it kinda works, actually.

“Yellow” is the fusion of so many different genres, it’s crazy. You have a jazz club, the MPLS in some synth work and horns and the Linn-drum, and it’s very bluesy 😎 it’s also very short… almost criminally short, actually.
“Romance 1600” sounds like the last of Prince’s rockabilly tracks from the 80’s. but it’s also very 80’s with the synths coming on blazing. Kinda funny how it’s the title track, but it really doesn’t feel like that at all. None of the other songs have much in common with it.
“Merci For The Speed Of A Mad Clown In Summer” is a purely Sheila instrumental composition. The start feels like it’s at the set of a carnival. Then it just became this crazy band session that sounds like “2 nigs united for west Compton” combined with Eddie M saxophone. Very frantic, kinda like “Life can be so nice” from Parade.
“Bed Time Story” was a pleading “please lover don’t go” type song. Something Prince is really good at (although off the top of my head I can’t think of any others right now), but Sheila owned it. Really good job on the vocals. The saxophone playing might have been a little too loud on it, drowning her out a bit. It felt like one of Prince’s bedroom ballads, but not as steamy or entrancing because it didn’t seem like anything good was going to come of it.

Overall, though, I really liked this album. A lot more than the first Sheila E album. I don’t know if it’s because Prince’s energy is a bit more present or Sheila is more confident as a singer or the songwriting just fits really well into one of my favorite periods of his music.
But if I see it, I just might buy it. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Prince Album #7: Around the World in a Day [at “Paisley Park”]

According to Matt Thorne’s book, the original title of the album was going to be “Paisley Park” until he heard David Coleman’s recording what would become the real title track…

man, what a difference that would have made…
well, following something like Purple Rain, a rose by any other name still wouldn’t have succeeded as the parties involved would have hoped for…

So I’m finally back- ready to leave Purple Rain behind and move onto the next album and phase of Prince’s career… which was basically trying to maintain that rate of success without repeating his past triumphs…
after spending two weeks with all the music from 1983-1984, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore… and I actually understand, for the first time ever, why Prince wanted to do something different, why he burned out in the final third of the tour for his monster success of an album and movie… as great as the material was, you can only hang with it so much before you yearn for something else.
Or as Prince put it, he was taking time off to “look for The Ladder”

[So far this post is sounding incredible… but sadly I must bring it down a bit for the “Complain about Matt Thorne’s book” section]

I cannot go a chapter without one thing just throwing me completely off and mad for no reason at all. He’s basically a stupid journalist to me at this point, one of many who’d tried to write about Prince over the years and misinterpreted so much about him to the point he wouldn’t talk to them.
Out of nowhere, he said “Pop Life” was a song that continues to rub people the wrong way, quoting another random journalist who said it tells people to stop complaining and put up with their “essentially shitty lives.” I can understand him trivializing “Temptation”… I’m sure someone on Peach & Black will think it’s kind of ridiculous, the 2nd half of the song. And I’ll admit that I’ve laughed it the first several times I listened to it when he’s being smited (smoten?) by God… but the final few seconds of dialogue, that was always a chilling moment for me. Can’t quite understand why.

Anyway… Pop Life, last I checked, was a beloved Prince song. I haven’t heard anyone say they hadn’t liked it. How many people could it have rubbed the wrong way to warrant such a comment? There was no real explanation for it. Interpretation is subjective, I get that, but it needs explanation for me to get why this was.
I never heard this song as being mean-spirited, so this idea of it just didn’t feel right to me.

[Ok, enough of that…]

He did write one comment that made me think “hmm… you might have a point”…[had to happen sometime, I guess]
he was writing about Tambourine and said it was “the worst song on any Prince album up to this point.”

to say that about any Prince song kinda seems harsh, but taking everything into account… if any song warranted this comment, this won’t certainly be the worst choice.
Tambourine isn’t great… might be the one song that keeps this album from scoring an 8.
I really don’t know what to expect from a rating. This has always been an odd one for me.
Most times when I listen to it, it’s the first time in a while and it feels like a refreshing change in direction. I think I might have even felt that way when I listened to it the first time… just because I’d spent a couple months with 4 Prince albums, one being a greatest hits album. I was at college without a car [that wasn’t really important to me] so I didn’t have the luxury to go out when I wanted to buy more music.

it’s interesting to hear how these songs were written even while Purple Rain was in the final stages before the theatrical release… yet the feel of it is so different. Maybe it wouldn’t be so much if the title track wasn’t there. I might try that sometime…


maybe it’s because I hadn’t heard Prince in a couple days [and I’d had one of those bad days at work where I’m busy but my mind is buzzing with all the negativity in the world at the current time]… but I came into the title track and felt completely refreshed.

I know this is technically Prince doing a cover of a song written by Lisa’s brother. But he did those random Prince things that made it his own. The drum pattern for starters. The loudest beat on the four. and of course that killer synth solo towards the end.
then “Paisley Park” took on a completely new meaning… it’s the state of mind or place I reach when I listen to Prince in general. I’ve had several moments (not just recently, but the first couple years- when I was still in college) where simply listening to him takes me somewhere else and whatever is bugging me or making me feel bad, it goes away and I feel better.

yeah, Prince is good therapy- who knew?

I was getting through these first few songs and getting this feeling- “this doesn’t feel like the album that came after Purple Rain”- there’s no connection to it at all- unless you look at the screams and the Linn-drum… the fact the third song is a ballad… a power ballad towards the end of the album… the final track has elements of Darling Nikki…
some similarities, but the overall packaging just feels so different and it hurts my head too much (and detracts from the overall experience) to think of it that way.

so instead, it feels more like Prince took a year-long hiatus from Purple Rain and came back with something completely new. at least on the surface… it’s closer to Parade, but even then, those albums are far apart too.
I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Condition of the Heart- I can hear the comments now πŸ˜› Captain saying its the most skippable on the album. a) because it’s a ballad and b) it takes 2 minutes until the actual song starts.
Toejam might call this the dream song of the album… it’s very atmospheric. It could divide the panel.
I mean, it’s not “The Beautiful Ones” and maybe a little too long and too theatrical at times, but I’ve always kinda liked it. Just not enough where I’d skip to listen to it.
I find it interesting now- looking at the Clara Bow reference and Matt Thorne writing how it could have been a reference to his upcoming movie project, which was might have been his tribute to old movies. Hence the black and white.

Tambourine… whether it’s the worst up to this point, I’m still figuring out. I never hated it, but it’s the most skippable for me.
America… I always kinda liked the third verse about Jimmy Nothing who didn’t want to pledge Allegience. (“Now Jimmy live on a mushroom cloud!”)… that’s even more fun to say because of the Seinfeld episode where Jimmy always referred to himself in the third person. It also made me think about how Colin Kapernick refused to stand for the National Anthem and that’s why nobody wants to hire him anymore. Yeah, some songs just transcend time… although I don’t know whether Prince would have supported him or not. Doesn’t matter anymore now.

Pop Life– I couldn’t listen to the lyrics much because I was concentrating extra hard on driving… but the music always stands out. Love that walking bassline (it’s even better in the extended version) and it’s really minimalistic, but so great.

The Ladder… yeah… the lyrics have come to mind a lot these last few weeks… but hearing the song again, soon enough, my mind drifts off and I just wait for it to end.

Temptation… I read that it was written around the time of Purple Rain (the project, not the actual song) and Prince went back and edited it.
I’m willing to bet he added the epiphany/confrontation section later on- the way he added the backwards gospel to Darling Nikki.
I just love mime-screaming along to this song. The last part of it makes me laugh so much because I have no clue what he’s saying πŸ˜› how authentic the final couple minutes is… it’s hard to know, really. Prince could have been completely serious and people will still think he’s nuts.
***
Day 2

it seems like I tire of these Prince albums kinda quickly… at least the first few tracks…
but the good news was that I was free to listen to “Raspberry Beret” (the other day, I was being overly cautious with my driving so I barely listened)… and it felt like 10 minutes of bliss. Really enjoyed how simple and poppy it is. One of the catchiest choruses Prince ever wrote πŸ˜‰
I think I read somewhere that this was originally written in 1982… I wonder if it had synths and Linn-drum back then and how that would’ve sounded. (I’ll probably ask the same of “New Position” next album).

“Tambourine” isn’t quite a guilty pleasure… but times like this, I oddly enjoy it. The vocal delivery half makes up for the cheesy almost cringe-worthy innuendo-laden lyrics.

“Pop Life” doesn’t feel nearly long enough… but I also have a couple other versions hanging around too.

The third verse of “The Ladder” is probably the most sincere part of the song overall… and I kinda keep missing it- my mind keeps wondering off. But again, it drags.

One day, I think I should listen to “Darling Nikki” and “Temptation” back to back… see if I can find the connection between the two albums. If there’s anywhere I can find it, it’s with these two since they were written, I think, only a couple months apart.

“Paisley Park” overall is great… but I kinda wish it was different… some of the lyrics, I don’t care for. The music has some bits and pieces that just come off weird to me. If it had a different array of instruments (or if it wasn’t trying to keep up the sound from the previous track)… it could have been really amazing. I don’t know what I’d change exactly, but one day, I’ll see if I can express that in writing.

And before ending this day off, I also listened to a couple B-sides.

“She’s always in my hair”… It was maybe around 2pm at work. I hadn’t heard much music that day (the radio was turned down low so I barely heard it). I felt like it woke me up. Prince kinda has that effect. I could listen this jam for 15 minutes and not get tired of it.
Love the main hook on this one and the “splash” effect on the drums… so cool.

Then “Hello”… OMG!! This was one of my early favorite Prince songs. I hadn’t heard it in such a long time. And it’s even cooler now that I know the context and reason it was written. The main hook is… again, cool. I just enjoy it so much.
The lyrics are very specific and tell a story. I love the backing vocals and the rhythm of the vocal delivery.
It’s too damn short… which is why I’m so happy a remix came with the set it came in.

I just thought on the way back home (during that 3rd verse in “The Ladder”)… maybe I should guess what the Peach and Black guys will think of these songs… I mean, it’d be crazy how many I get right. And if I do get a lot right… well, what does that say about me? I’m completely mental, that’s what.
This train of thought became when I thought aloud to myself “is Captain crazy enough to like Tambourine?” because this is the guy known for really oddball favorite Prince songs. I’m sure he’d like “Raspberry Beret”… at least to a degree, because it’s 80’s pop and he’s a sucker for a well-written pop song.
***

I never put that rap sheet together πŸ˜› by this point, I’m 6 songs in.

But I was right about one thing and I was in my driveway at this point, laughing and cheering.
Captain called “Condition of the Heart” most skippable on the album and the 2 minute intro didn’t do it for him… I would have said “Captain, you disappoint me” if he wound up calling this his favorite on the album, but you never know to expect from him.
But it’s also great that despite not liking the song, he can offer up good things to say about it. Things he really likes… notably the lyrics, despite the fact he doesn’t listen to lyrics.

MC talked about how ballsy Prince was to do this type of album after the success of Purple Rain.
Toejam said, on any given day, “Condition of the Heart” could be his favorite Prince song. Or at least it’s in his top 5 (I’ll maintain that “Strange but True” is his favorite and nothing he says will convince me otherwise :P)

Overall, everyone seems to be in agreement on the songs. Classic Prince music is hard to really be overly harsh about. Even the stuff we don’t complete like has good points.

Bringing back the point about “Tambourine”… oh man, the guys had so much fun with this one. None of them were put off by the lyrics.
And listening it to these past few times… it’s not great, but it’s fun and enjoyable. not quite a guilty pleasure like Darling Nikki is, not for me anyway…
I actually typed the quote into Twitter and Captain came back and asked what book I’m reading cuz it sounded so ridiculous to him.

yeah, horribly cheesy lyrics and obvious innuendo… but let’s face it- Prince is the only person who could write a track like this and make it sound great. Or at least not overtly offensive (although that clearly isn’t the case for this guy. And I thought I was bad)…

I’m disappointed that they didn’t talk about my favorite verse during their “America” review.

all this time later, I really don’t remember too much else about the podcast I wanted to bring up.

But I’ll add a few bits about the stuff on my iPod.
I completely forgot that the “Hello (fresh dance mix)” had a different set of lyrics. Next time I listen, it can’t be when I’m driving πŸ˜›
I remembered seeing these lyrics on the border at .org… now I’m having trouble remembering because it mentions shoes and I’m thinking about other Prince songs with shoe lyrics.
“Get your education first then buy a pair of shoes”- Loose!
“if they tell me to walk a straight line, I put on crooked shoes”- The Max (love that lyric!)

he says that words are just like shoes, they’re just something to stand on. I wish you could walk in my shoes, but they’re so high you’d probably fall off and die. (this is paraphrasing of course…)

Anyway, I have an alternate version of the title track… I don’t remember if I’d ever listened to it. But it’s a little more Middle-Eastern and much more filled out musically.
The other day, I heard a longer cut of Paisley Park, but there are some differences too. I think it’s not as sparse. And I love how the guitar is more prevalent.
the long version of America… I’m sorry, my attention span with Prince can only go, at most, 12 minutes for a song (the extended cut of “Mountains” and the album version of “Come” fall into this0. That song is 21 minutes… this is also a song I’m not entirely crazy about. It’s good, but I don’t personally connect with it.

Pop Life… oh man… I freaking love this song so much. I wish there was just one perfect version of it that had all of my favorite quirks from all three version I have.
I don’t like the crowd noise that much.
I’d love to keep the ending of the fresh dance mix. I don’t like how the album version fades out at the end. It just feels too short.
the instrumental break before the third verse- I like the sound effects in the fresh dance mix and want to move them over.
The fourth verse & corresponding 2nd chorus… it doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the song’s message… but I kinda don’t want to take it out entirely if it means the track can run for 9 minutes.

Raspberry Beret, of course I’ll take the long version… something feels missing without that introduction with the guitar scratch.
[going back to the podcast, Captain said he picked up a harpsichord on this track for the first time prior to doing the review… along with 80’s rubbish pop and the top fret on a guitar, Captain is a sucker for harpsichord… one of the first podcasts I listened to it in 2016, he brought that up and I can’t remember which album it was, but I’ll mention it as soon as I get here]

so in addition to the B-sides, I kinda want to put my own playlist for this album together.

it’d go something like this…
1. Around the world in a day (alternate version)
2. Paisley Park (extended)
3. Condition of the Heart
4. She’s Always in My Hair
5. Raspberry Beret (extended)
6. Tambourine
7. Girl
8. America
9. Pop Life (extended)
10.Β 4 theΒ Tears in Your Eyes
11. Hello
12. The Ladder
13. Temptation
14. Pop Life (fresh dance remix)

so I’ll finish the podcast, make some final comments and I’ll rate the album…

I’ve got a little bit left… the guys are giving their scores now and they’re a lot of higher than I figured.
Captain freaking gave it 9.5 because it had Temptation on it πŸ˜› it was so crazy to hear him call that his favorite on the album. So unexpected- I was sure one of its elements would weird him out a bit (my sights were set on the God conversation in the song’s final moments). But it is a good choice for a favorite track. If “Pop Life” wasn’t on this album, it’d be mine.

MC called it his favorite on the album and sang its praises for what felt like 5 minutes. He touched on all the points I would have. There was debate on the bass line and who did it… it’s not marked on the album credits… princevault says its Brown Mark. I was gonna say whoever did it, I don’t care who, they were brilliant at it.
[wow, reading the princevault entry, it says this was recorded feb 19 1984 and the sessions lasted until 6:15 the following morning… that’s got to be a showing of how much he believed in this song… and the much debated crowd noise came “from a sound library set by the company Sound Ideas”- and Delirious, Live 4 Love and Lady Cab Driver also used them]
everyone praised it, but of course Captain has to be the weirdo who says he doesn’t like it. Just doesn’t get it.

I’d have to have my notes all set, but I’d like to explain it πŸ˜›
at least he has that quality about him where he can admit he doesn’t like something but finds good things to highlight. At least if the quality is good or it’s from the 80’s.

Toejam was my saving grace on The Ladder… he didn’t hate the song, but he was the only one who really expressed any dislike for it. Or just saying he didn’t like it as much.
I was practically quoting MC on “Baby I’m a star”… “no… I can’t believe you’re all agreeing.”
Not to say the song is horrible, but it just runs too long, gets too repetitive… and to me, it sounds like Purple Rain part 2 and just isn’t as good.
Nor does it mean I’m not big on Prince gospel. It just needs to catch my attention and hold onto it. I guess Toejam didn’t like it as much because he supposedly (according to him) isn’t big on religion being discussed in music. Which is weird cuz he gave Lovesexy a perfect 10.

Temptation prompted an interesting discussion (how could it not?) about album sequencing and whether this was originally the 2nd to last and The Ladder was the salvation he sought and succeeded in achieving.
Toejam said some days it could be brilliant and others it can get annoying.
Someone said this isn’t a song you can play in the background at a party. I played this album in the car my 3rd or 4th time listening to it… I took it out after The Ladder πŸ˜› there is no way anyone else in the car could have lasted through that song. My mom already thinks Prince is a weirdo and my dad still can’t believe I got so into him when he was the whole reason for it. The Prince stuff that was in the house (the Purple Rain soundtrack and the VHS tape with MTV videos including 1999 on it) came from him and the only reason we sat through Purple Rain when it was on TV mid-progress was because it was his idea… I just took the fandom much further than he did, where he respects the guy, but he’s not super nuts about him beyond a couple songs.

and Captain kept mentioning this person, Novi Novog- who played violin on several of the tracks. Just really liked the name πŸ˜›

Player also talked about the artwork and had a nice lengthy discussion about it.

One of the rare times MC gave a score for the album- saying he couldn’t sleep at night if he gave it less than a 9. He gave it 9.5 (and in the background, Captain says “the same as me” gleefully in the background, lol).
He went into as much detail about why just like he did with his Pop Life review… which is really cool 😎 when he can’t stop talking like this, you know it’s good. You know the passion is there πŸ˜‰

I can’t fit this in a tweet πŸ˜› MC was talking about the album being colorful in his summation. Captains says people get the impression this album is colorful because of the artwork and asks if that would be true if the album cover was black.
My first impression of all Prince albums that I physically own… they come from the artwork. That’s why I want to get them. Not just to be respectful to Prince, but also the album isn’t just about the music with him. And I like to know what to expect before I go in. The visual enhances the experience.
I know that this album got an added impression based on that. I know I felt “Come” to be a dark album based on the cover and how it looks like he’s in front of a gothic church or something. [I might have the architectural style wrong… but you get my point].

…I’d been hanging with the other mixes for so long, I think I might need to hear the album all the way through, untouched, before making my final call.
And I typically wait until 3 listens to the full album before I give my review. I feel bad about waiting, but I also don’t want to rush it.
Which means I gotta hook up my iPod and put the music from iTunes onto the album.


yeah, I used to do this all the time the first couple of years of this new life with Prince music. I’d have my CD player or my iPod. I’d be in my college dorm room or my bedroom when I was home. I’d lay on top of the covers, eyes closed and listen to the album in full.

with the first few tracks, it was great… but around the time I found the harpsichord in “Raspberry Beret,” I was slowly losing traction as the album went on. That’s what I get for having a drink with a movie earlier. I had to keep from falling asleep.

Anyway… this is going to be a tricky one to rate.
Because I need to figure out if I’m going to go from what I’ve heard these past few times or am I going to keep in mind the fact I have several other albums to get through so I can’t score overly high…

AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY [the song]

The weirdness starts here. Such a strange start to a new Prince album, even stranger coming off the heels of Purple Rain. The whistling flute-like instrument in the background, the Linn-drum clap along with tribal sounding drums on the other beats. The finger cymbals.
The lyrics run a verse and chorus or two. Some thought-provoking lyrics to get your mind going, but the title still feels odd. Like it doesn’t fully cover what the album is about.
We go to the Middle East and Asia here, but other than going to Paris in “Condition of the Heart” and the string arrangements in “Pop Life” keep me in Europe, we get mostly America- both in the song, but the trolley cars in “Tambourine” which makes you automatically think of San Francisco.

Technical score- 4 (a point is deducted because this isn’t 100% a Prince track- written by David Coleman with his father co-credited… plus the lyrics is somewhat unsatisfying compared to how much we get the verses… fair enough, right?)
Components score- 3.5 (I like it a little more than average, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to it by itself)
Total score- 7.5

PAISLEY PARK
…I think this one is starting to sneak up on me a bit. I can’t help but wonder what it’ll be like when I actually go there and see the utopia this song ultimately inspired into being. I don’t think I really connected with it until we lost Prince- as if everything suddenly made sense. Or at least I found a way to make sense of it for myself.
I’m a sucker for the finger cymbals (on this and a song I’ll get to much later… I always tap a finger or clap my hands together in time with them). But the lyrics really make this song what it’s become to me.

Technical score- 4.5 (I love Wendy, but her back-up vocals on the chorus always feel a little too high to me… she’s Prince’s perfect counterpoint, but I always sing his part because hers runs too high for me with the song’s key being where it is. Somewhat distracting…)
Components score- 4 (like I said, sneaking… slowly becoming a favorite on this album, which has some really great songs on it)
Total score- 8.5

CONDITION OF THE HEART
…listening to this on headphones (or in this case my iPod is something else) is something else. The instrumental at the start comes off as if he’s playing alone in a dark room with no light. Well, maybe a candlelight, a piano, a microphone and a soundboard. It has to be one of noted performances recorded alone without any engineers in the studio.

Technical score- 4.5 (the volume regulation required while playing this track on stereo can be a bit of a pan. It starts so low you can barely hear the instrumentals or Prince, but then it gets so high and you have to readjust… takes away from the overall experience).
Components score- 4 (I feel good about this… it’s not up there with his better ballads for me, but the emotion and the overall composition of this is enough to make me admire Prince… just in general)
Total score- 8.5

RASPBERRY BERET
…I found the harpsichord, just like Captain said, and after that, I just got lost in the percussion and all the other instruments. But with songs you hear as much as this one, you kinda need those moments every now and then to keep things from getting repetitive.

Technical score- 5 (finally got a perfect technical score!… it’s perfectly executed, I can’t take away from it)
Components score- 4 (I enjoy this breath of fresh air whenever it comes on, but it doesn’t mean I like when it’s overplayed on the radio… oddly enough, I don’t think I’d heard it so much as I had in the past year. and there are others I like a lot better)
Total score- 9

TAMBOURINE
…yeah, I got nothing for a quip to introduce this song… although the shaking of the tambourine before the final verse before he says “trolley cars…”, these past few times, it made me think of “Fascination” where the chorus ends with a tambourine shake or a maraca or something.

Technical score- 4 (for some weak lyrics, but a little extra credit for Prince being ballsy enough to put something like this out on an album rather than keeping it in the vault… it’s a good breather before the serious tracks, but it isn’t quite up there with some of the other material
Components score- 3.5 (I always kinda have fun with this one, but I don’t go out of my way to listen to it either)
Total score- 7.5

[yeah, this album isn’t getting an 8]

AMERICA
…this track still holds water today… I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing regarding our country.

Technical score- 5 (This one was always well put together in my view)
Components score- 3.5 (maybe it’s the “Partyup” effect… but I don’t so much like Prince when he gets political. Doesn’t quite hold my interest, even if he’s talking about stuff in the real world, opposed to being self-involved. I love the way the lyrics are written and put together. But I just never got overly excited about this track. Can’t quite explain why…)
Total score- 8.5

POP LIFE

Technical score- 5 (everything is brilliant)
Components score- 4.5 (except I don’t like the crowd noise at the end and how it fades out… I so badly wanted to give this a perfect 10 and I had it typed that way… I just couldn’t do it when there was something I disliked that would’ve gone unsaid otherwise)
Total score- 9.5

THE LADDER
…ok, here we go… if this album is a 7-pointer, this track will decide whether it’ll run high or low on the decimal side of the period.

Technical score- 4 (great music, great vocals overall, great lyrics… just runs a little too long and repetitive. And Prince had executed similar exercises more successfully)
Components score- 2.5 (I really struggled with this one… I give 3’s to average tracks, I don’t like or hate them strongly. But this is a song I’d skip if I didn’t feel compelled to listen to the whole album… much like how it went with “Anna Christian” back on Controversy)
Total score- 6.5 (can’t remember the last time I gave a score this low… but I did spend 2 weeks on Purple Rain…)

TEMPTATION
…I can’t remember what I gave “Darling Nikki,” but this can’t rank higher than it.

Technical score- 5 (forget the unintelligible lyrics… this is brilliantly executed and just plain ballsy to put on an album… I’m willing to bet he added the gospel part in the 2nd half because he thought he went too far
Components score- 4 (yeah, I feel good about this… I like “Pop Life” more than this one, even though this is another one of those guilty pleasure tracks)
Total score- 9

Now time to do math… after sequencing them from highest to lowest:

Pop Life- 9.5
Temptation- 9
Raspberry Beret- 9
Paisley Park- 8.5
Condition of the Heart- 8.5
America- 8.5
Around the World in a Day- 7.5
Tambourine- 7.5
The Ladder- 6.5

…let’s see… 74.5- divide by points possible (90)… whoa… 8.2777
so rounded up, I gave Around the World in a Day 8.3… that’s higher than 1999?! That’s insane… I guess there’s something to be said about Prince’s shorter albums
…makes me worry about O(+> and The Gold Experience further down the road… but at least with one, my score is based on the 12 tracks, not all 18 with the segues.

So the songs I’m taking forward with me automatically to when I start to figure out my list of 100 favorite Prince songs…

Pop Life
Temptation
Raspberry Beret

…I still can’t believe it πŸ˜› and I might as might paste, yet again, the story of Prince’s discography so far following my little system… which continues to surprise me…

For You- 6.2
Prince- 7.6
Dirty Mind- 7.4
Controversy- 7.8
1999- 8
Purple Rain- 9.1

Parade is next and it’s one I consider among my favorites… but now, I’m not so sure how it’ll hope up against my system.
I hope it at least gets an 8. Any less would just feel wrong, considering all much I enjoy listening to it when I put it on.

I’ll end this post by adding comments about “Girl’… which I chose to listen to when I was by myself because I remembered it being kinda explicit and intimate… I thought right.
Those 7 minutes and change felt like an eternity that I kinda didn’t want to leave.

I’d been meaning for ages to put together a mix CD of Prince ballads and love songs and this will have to be among them.
That’s all I’m going to say for that…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

GMA interviews The Revolution

I started watching this and jotting down some of my favorite bits and tidbits. I ended up getting so much on my sticky note thing on my computer… I think I’ll just post it here. Just my favorite moments or stuff I just want to remember for later.

Wendy- it’s like phantom limb syndrome… I wrote that first because that is exactly how I feel it’s hard to feel like he isn’t here anymore. But it’s also because I listen to him a lot so he’s never too far away.

Bobby- I made him laugh and that got me in (the studio was protective of him at first)

Brown Mark- Prince was dating Kim Upsher who was a waitress (was she the dumpster girl in Purple Rain?)- he was a cook at the same pancake house and cooked him pancakes- told him a few years later and he hit the floor laughing

Wendy- heard “Soft & Wet” at a club, and was a fangirl ever since that song πŸ˜› (Lisa had no idea about Prince and Wendy couldn’t believe she got to play for him and maybe Lisa couldn’t understand the fangirling)

Lisa- a childhood friend of hers was a secretary at the record company, heard about auditions and told her to try out

Bobby Z- helped him put the band together. he and Dr. Fink were friends and he played a tape for him and he says you need to get me in
Jimmy Jam had auditioned as a keyboard player- I think I remembered hearing that also, but couldn’t guess why πŸ˜› maybe because he wanted the band to be diverse, so the back line (keyboards and drums) was white and the front men (Prince, guitar and bass) were black- that’s my guess

Dr. Fink- last member to be cast. Prince asked him to do the keyboard from “So Blue,” said he didn’t know he had to learn it, freaking out. Prince joked, “that’s ok, there’s no keyboards on that anyway”

by the time The Revolution toured for Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day was finished… wow… I guess you could say that the two albums are cousins. They were written around the same time, but they’re so different but with some similarities.

and yeah, by the time I started this blog post, I didn’t have a whole lot I wanted to add.

It is such a relief that they didn’t ask them about how he died and the speculation and such… it’s bad enough Dez is being asked by the press about it.
They’re happy that Purple Rain deluxe is getting released first because “that’s us” and they’re playing those songs in concert.
I just hope I don’t regret not getting tickets to go…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment