Tuesday, April 06, 2004
My second year in college, I became very good friends with a kid named Aaron Levy. Aaron was a hip cat with a massive CD collection that he would bust music out of and blow my mind. He was my inroads to the Wu-Tang, Juliana Hatfield and PRINCE.
Aaron was listening to "When Doves Cry" and I was intrigued. I hadn't heard the song in years (I was riding a hairmetal/grunge kick at the time) and was curious as to what else was on the album. Luckily, it wasn't "Purple Rain", it was "The Hits and the B-Sides". Man, it took a LOT of talking to get that box away from him, but I managed to borrow it and then it was all over.
I kept going, "Wow! THIS is Prince? He sings that too? And this?" How could this guy's B-Sides be so goddamn good? Why hadn't anyone turned me on to him earlier? Why couldn't I stop sitting in front of the cd player and obsessively restarting "When Doves Cry", just to hear that three second guitar riff over and over?
I was hooked.
It seemed like all the anonymous rnb hits of my childhood could be traced to this one guy. And bear in mind, I'm late coming to rnb; I found Prince before Clinton, Stevie, MJ (well, pre-"Thriller"), Mayfield, Withers, Marvin... as far as I knew, this guy had created the genre more or less entirely on his own.
I resolved to get better acquainted and started crashing record stores looking for Prince. Imagine my surprise when I found PILES of material of varying quality and importance and no one in these pre-google times to explain where to start. The first album I bought was "Symbol" and it just became an addiction after that, a new CD a week for months.
Prince was my first serious musical completist obsession (followed closely thereafter by the motley crew of Orbital, Tom Waits, John Coltrane and They Might Be Giants, but there's another story). Eventually I had most of the back catalog and was curious enough to find out what he was into CURRENTLY.
"Come" had just dropped (no pun intended) and I found it to be a really a great album. This was Prince's last recording prior to the name change; so now I had this guy who had an astonishing decade plus old catalog, who was STILL making great stuff and didn't look like he was ever gonna stop and was in the middle of some sort of serious tumultuous creative overhaul. I figured he might just be all the music I'd ever need.
I became a serious Prince acolyte, talking him up to all my metalhead and indy friends. I was in love at the time in that kind of utterly abandoned college way where you're experimenting with sex and relationships in a "we are the most important people in the world" method. Prince was a PERFECT soundtrack for self-obsessives and so was forever on in the background. God help me, there was even an "Under the Cherry Moon" poster on the ceiling over the bed. It was cheesy like Chuck E, no doubt, but I was livin' the purple life and lovin' it.
Prince - "Pretty Bitch"
This is another case of the most obscure, unheard Prince track paying off big. "Pretty Bitch" waggles its finger under your nose and tells you to gWON, then.
As strippeddown fonky as it wants to be, this deserves more play and some recognition. Spread th' word.
UPDATE: Yes it IS funky, but it ain't Prince. It's music from Seamore Funk.
See the link for more info.
Prince's official home on the internet is also the place to DL his new CD, Musicology.
The VH1 Site
Uptown Magazine is the premier Prince fanzine.
Prince - "Pop Life (Extended Version)"
When I first found this, my girlfriend at the time told me to take the player off repeat; she was tired of hearing about "that pop". O'course, it wasn't on repeat.
One of Prince's greatest weaknesses as a songwriter is his unwillingness to let a theme go until he's wrung every last drop of sweat out of it. This is tedious with his Madhouse-style prog-jazz stuff; when we apply the same theory to his greatest hits, you hit jackpot. The lyrics and piano are awful rewarding.
And it don't stop.
Purchase "Around the World in a Day" from Amazon
Prince: A Pop Life
The MTV site
Prince - "Power Fantastic (Live)"
This song remained unreleased until "The Hits" but it was one of Prince's faves to pull out in concert. This is a boot of unknown origin and you'll have to forgive the audience chatter.
Jesus, Prince sounds awful good live though, don't he?
And so intimate. Only Prince could make God so sexy.
Are you going to tell me you've never listened all the way through to "The Hits and the B-Sides"?
As essential as water.
An article on Prince's recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
(alongside Traffic and ZZ Top?)
Who's Prince? is a great one stop shop for lyrics, album pics, discography and tracklistings.
Prince - "Solo"
Wow. Just... wow. Another unjustified classic that fell through the cracks; how did "Space" get a single and this didn't?
Prince's falsetto is legendary, but it's rare that he devotes an entire track just to exploring his range. This featherlight, blackhearted ballad could be easy to pooh pooh off as wankery (how many rnb torch songs do you know of that are HARP driven?), but Prince's commitment and soul saves the day; as with R. Kelly, the fact that he's so damn SERIOUS sells me.
That high note is fun to try and hit when you're alone in the shower.
I bet if you try "Come" once, you'll like it.
There is no uncreepy way to recommend this album.
The Prince Wiki
A fairly comprehensive timeline
Prince - "Kirk J's Bside Remixes"
Here's an offbeat cut; the b-side to Prince's bizarre "fulfilling the Warner Bros. contract/'Slave' Era" mashup CD single, "Purple Medley".
Real Prince fans know that if you held the album upside down, you could see that "Medley" strongly resembled "help me"... or "help ew," really; but we knew what he meant.
The A-side is just a little too Vegas for ANYBODY'S taste (you can practically hear the announcer saying "And who could forget THIS classic!" over every transition) but the flip side is great... pretty much right up to "The Continental" which inexplicably hogs the last half of the track.
Why mashup everything else and then slap on an uninspired remix of a mediocre track to fill up an additional four minutes? Carmen Electra's lame dirty talk don't help much either.
This is fun up until 3:15; then you're on your own.
Purchase "Purple Medley" direct from Amazon, if you dare.
Sadly, the Purple Raincoats have been discontinued.
Prince - "1999 (Jason Nevins' Remix"
Nevins brand of house remix generally appeals and this "1999" remix is one of the best of many that emerged five years ago.
Purchase 1999 from Amazon
Nevin's official site has lots of audio.
Fred Durst sings "1999", live.
Hilarity, as they say, ensues.
Sean over at Gramophone drew my attention to dropload, a great little utility that holds 50 megs of files that can be dropped off by anyone and inspected by the mailbox owner prior to download. Just the thing for sharing those obscure little one hit tracks that you want to turn me on to. Many of you have left notes referring to esoteric bands and songs; I'd LOVE it if you could dropload me a file. My account is held under shempshemp at hot mail, so c'mon: Surprise me; show me something new!
Commentary from Matthew over at fluxblog in response to a question about his reference to "white indy-rock subgenres":
"I think that whiteness (specifically middle class American whiteness) informs the aesthetic of what we understand to be indie rock, and that in this context, I'd be interested in how people from outside of that background would approach the same styles and subgenres. Hip hop is mostly made by people on the opposite end of the social spectrum from those who make indie rock - my interest as I've expressed in the post above is in finding out what would happen if totally different types of people started playing with the sounds that characterize indie rock. What would the music be like? And how would white indie fans and musicians react - would they embrace this, or would they move on to other styles which have less of a underclass/black/minority presence? Indie rock has been a white thing for so long now that it is possible that in some small way its whiteness is part of its appeal for some of its audience."(emphasis mine)
An interesting hypothesis. IndyRock is DIFFICULT for me to get into. There's something about the appeal of bands like Wilco (to drag out a tired referencepoint) that's utterly mystifying to me.
Anybody got a response to any of this?
Big ups to longtime Hut fave Burned by the Sun for nabbing a coveted "blog of note" nod from Blogger.
Stop by to pick up some nice obscure Nirvana and, entirely appropos of this week's theme, The Purple Album.
I've just started to listen to that last one and... well. I have to say that it's LIGHT YEARS better than that goddamn Jay-Zeezer thing and it seems pretty well mixed but ENOUGH already: it is officially time for a detente on all further Black album remixes.
Please. I'm asking nicely.
Gardner Linn is offering a rough beta mashup of the onceubiquitousnowplayedout "Milkshake" and (SURPRISE!) Odea Matthews "The Moon Is Rising", featured on the prison songs post here at the Hut.
This works better than you would think it would, but is still a little, um, jarring. Go give it a listen and tell Gardner whatcha think.
The lovable El-Chan over at Fruits of Chaos was nice enough to send me a SPECTACYLAR J-Mix CD with all manner of offbeat stuff that I've listened through to four times now. Poppy, disarmingly deep and often very silly.
Personal faves so far include m-flo loves CHEMISTRY's "Astrosexy" (addictive J-'lectropop with a great call and response chorus), Ayumi Hamasaki's "Evolution" (once the slow beginning is over, this is on fire), Wyolica's "Lesson" (which directly lifts from "Sweet Home Alabama" of all things), Joshi Juni Gakubou's "Kiseki" (Semi-traditional fare; I'm a sucker for Chinese strings and flute), Yumi Shizukusa's "Take Me Take Me" (uncannily Xtina sounding, but better), Bump of Chicken's "Laughmaker" (heartfelt indy rock but what the hell is up with that name?) and BoA's "Listen to My Heart" (nice Flyte-Tyme style production with compelling percussion).
I love that J/K/C-pop is so cavalier and FUN. Guilty pleasures, guilt free! Go check out Fruits of Chaos for an excellent intro.
Classical Gasp reminds me of Mystical Beast in its content. He's COMPLETELY sold me on ogg, which is even cooler because you get to make the fish spin. Maybe I'll jump on the oggidish bloggidish love here afore too long myself. In any case, go get ogg for Gasp; he's worth it.
Filepile links like Tom Waits for No One are especially tricky to really RECOMMEND; I would caution the marginally ethical dler to consider not running roughshod over the man's (partial) catalog, but instead pick and choose and strongly urge buying, at least at a one to two ratio.
The Sound of Magic is a schmorgasbord of Disney Park music. A handsome piece of work, even if the kitsch may be a bit much for most. Don't miss the font dls!
"Songfight.org posts a title, people make songs for that title, the songs are posted on this page, people decide which they like best, and vote for their favorite." Interactive music! The future IS now!
If this is your cup of tea, you'll also want to look in on Coverfight.
If you think _I'M_ evangelical about musicbloggin' check out Emptyfree:
"I like the idea of people become militant radicals bent on overthrowing the government over the issue of peer-to-peer trading."
Viva la Revolucion!