This was a celebration of Prince that was originally published on Generation Bass on 29th May 2014.
As I said yesterday, you are staring at the greatest artist alive today!
When Prince arrived on the scene there were few black artists who had the balls to break out of the unfair boxes that the industry & the public expected them to be in. Hendrix was one that dared to do so in the late 60’s, as did Miles Davis in the 70’s and Prince arrived in the 80’s. Of course there were others but perhaps none were more so high profile than the ones I’ve just mentioned.
In the 80’s Prince managed to appeal to music fans of different colours and genres. The fact that he surrounded himself with a Transnational looking band really helped in the image stakes too.
You had the soul/gospel on the early albums which were often repeated on a few tracks on each following album. Soul and groove to rival all the best black soul artists. This ensured that Prince maintained some sort of Black fan base. Don’t forget in the 80’s you had seperate radio and awards for Black Artists. Hard to believe today but yep, music awards were demarcated on racial lines. Sadly, that kind of demarcation still exists in a lot of places around the world, just be thankful that in the USA and UK, at least, things have moved forward.
If you were a white rock fan, he made it easy for you to like him because of his work on tracks like “Bambi” which echoed Hendrix or “When you were mine” which was a great rock track that could compete with your Springsteen & U2 and others. Little Red Corvette was the one that broke him out to mainstream American rock fans and Purple Rain cemented that reputation with tracks like “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Computer Blue” and of course “Purple Rain” itself, which became a Rock anthem.
If you were into New Wave, you had the “1999” album that was full of it, Kraftwerkesque, Numanesque and Human Leaguesque. Some of the best New Wave sounds fused with Funk that you’ll ever hear are on that album.
The “Around the world in a day” album had Prince exploring psychedelic Beatlesque hues and tapestries in great abundance and it’s one of my favourite albums of his.
Parade saw him fusing all of these things with the avante garde Funk, Jazz and great pop, more stripped down and minimalistic and strange.
Sign of the Times saw him fusing everything altogether on one album, rock, pop, gospel, soul, jazz and funk with striking social commentary on the state of the world.
The infamous “Black Album” was also around in the 80’s but not officially released until 1994 as a Limited Edition. I remember grabbing it on a bootleg tape in Camden Town and I treasured it with my life. For me it was one of his greatest works and perhaps the album I have played most after 1999 and Around The World In A Day. It is said to be the most bootlegged album ever in the world. At the last minute Prince decided to cancel its release in 1987 because he felt the album was too negative and hateful, and not the message he wanted to release. He had spoken of a “dark night of the soul” where everything came to a head, prompting his cancellation of the album.
He finished the 80’s with “Lovesexy” and the “Batman” soundtrack, pretty decent albums but not his best.
I can’t think of many black or even white artists that had previously covered this wide range of terrain across genres and styles like Prince had just done.
The 80’s was his most creative and innovative period and if it had ended there then we’d be talking about an artist who could rival the work of the Beatles in terms of such awesome creativity, innovation and change in such a short time-span. Just think about it between 1980 – 1987 Prince had gone from “Dirty Mind” to “Sign O’ Times”. In just 7 years he had given us Dirty Mind, Controversy, 1999, Purple Rain, Around The World In A Day, Parade, Black Album & Sign O’ Times!!! And that is just his own stuff , don’t forget he also did stuff for the Time, Sheila E and many others.
Nowadays, you can count yourself lucky if an artist delivers just 1 classic album or even 1 classic song in the same time-span! Prince delivered 7 in 7 years and amongst them were many classic songs, 1999, Little Red Corvette, Purple Rain, Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, I would Die For U, Raspberry Beret, Pop Life, Kiss, Mountains, Girls & Boys, Sign O’ Times, Housequake, U Got The Look and If I Was Your Girlfriend!!! Not to mention the ones he wrote for others, Nothin’ Compares 2 U, I Feel For You and Manic Monday! This also does not include ones that have developed cult status as the years have gone on such as Bob George, 17 Days, Erotic City and many others.
Don’t even get me started on the 1000’s of unreleased tracks, many of which you can get as Bootlegs!!!
Thankfully, it didn’t end there in the 80’s but continues to today but you always felt that on his recorded works, Prince held back after the 80’s and I’m not sure why. That might be changing soon though with his recent work with 3rd Eye Girl that seems to be coming across as his most interesting work for some time.
So Prince really opened up a lot of doors for newer artists to be able to experiment with different genres and also helped to kick down that racial divide as black artists no longer needed to stay on the soul train but could branch out and be rock singers or whatever they wanted to be.
Not only was his music the best in the 80’s but as some would say (not me) when did you ever before see a mainstream straight black artist openly wearing make-up, eyeliner and dressing up in such a weird effeminate way with high heels!!! Never, that is the answer!
Not only that, one must also examine the content of Prince’s songs to see originality in terms of many things. I mean who wrote a song about Oral Sex before Prince and dared to call it “Head”. Who before Prince made their Girlfriend Orgasm on record like he did on songs such as ‘Do Me Baby”, “Lady Cab Driver” and “Girl”. He talked about masturbation on “Jack U Off ” & “Darling Nikki”. I mean he wrote about incest too like on “Sister” (not one of my favourite songs or subjects). He spoke about being neither male nor female on songs like “I would Die 4 U”. The threat of the Nuclear war, Gun Control. Aids and other important social commentary appeared on songs such as “Ronnie Talk 2 Russia”, “1999”, “America”, Annie Christian” and “Sign O’ Times”. I mean he even has a conversation with God on “Temptation”.
Totally original in so many ways!
Prince was and still is UNIQUE. Like I said God only made one, he’ll never make another.
This second mix pays tribute to that uniqueness and once again stays on that Slow & Sexy vibe of Volume 1 taking in some of the raunchier and most heartfelt moments of his catalogue. Yet again focusing on tracks that rarely get the sort of attention that I feel they deserve equal to all the big hits he had had.
As with Volume 1, Volume 2 is more of a sonic journey or soundtrack than a DJ Mix that I’ve interspersed with dialogue from people paying tribute to him from the likes of Kirstie Alley and Miles Davis through to dialogue that I’ve taken from Talk shows and award ceremonies.
1. Segue Vanessa Batholomew
2. God Instrumental
3. Temptation (Edit)
4. Creep Live @Coachella
5. Miles Davis Discusses Prince
6. Condition of the Heart
7. Venus De Milo
8. The Ladder
9. Prince dominates the American Music Awards 1985
11.When 2 R In Love
12.I Wish U Heaven
13.Forever In My Life
14.Mayte Garcia & Prince On The Today Show
15.Nothing Compares 2 U Live
17.Do Me, Baby