I THINK I FINALLY UNDERSTAND THE APPEAL OF EIGHT O’CLOCK COFFEE

“This is for why I wasn’t born like my brother, handsome and tall”

This line, from the previously mentioned song “Lady Cab Driver,” likely refers to Prince’s half-brother Duane Nelson, who in their high school days was on the basketball and football teams and actually became related to Prince when he was 14 and his father remarried. Ronin Ro writes that people in high school always felt Duane had Prince’s back. Duane would later go on to head up security at Paisley Park but would later become estranged. He died in 2013. More on Nelson at that time from the famous C.J.

Apologies for the random fact. I’ve picked up Ro’s Inside the Music and the Masks again. And you might imagine how excited I am by the Prince news that a new release is forthcoming in June. Yeah, well, I’m not, and I don’t think I’m the only Prince fan who is somewhat underwhelmed.

So when Prince gave an artist a song, he would hand them a tape. He would have done at least most of the tracks, the rhythm, the melodies, and the vocals. He pretty much expected the artist to deliver the track as originally conceived. Sometimes, as was the case for “A Love Bizarre,” for example, Prince’s guide vocals stayed on the track.

June’s upcoming release is those.

So, let’s recap. Since April 2016, they have released a deluxe Purple Rain, with many extras but no real effort to produce it; two best-of collections; Piano and a Microphone 1983, which is basically demos and sound checks; and now Originals, which is a buncha more demos.

Folks: If The Vault doesn’t exist, just say so, okay?

The HitnRun phases are a perfectly great place to close out the catalog. They are wonderful recordings that I would place anywhere in the Prince universe regarding their excellence. He even seems to say a nonchalant “goodbye” at the end of Phase Two’s last track, “Big City.” It’s rather perfect. Just close the catalog and admit that there are no more Prince albums.

By the way, there is a pile of material Prince fans are clamoring for. Release the out-of-print Jill Jones. Release The Family. Release Dez Dickerson’s album. Release a deluxe Parade and include the 10-inch Mountains. Release a deluxe ATWIAD and include the 10-inch “Raspberry Beret.”

I mean not to get too negative, but I don’t really need Prince’s recording of “Dear Michaelangelo,” “Sex Shooter,” “Manic Monday,” or “The Glamorous Life.” And I have never cared and never will that he wrote a song for Kenny Rogers, so the “You’re My Love” demo isn’t high on my list, either. Mainly, though, I think this release delivers Prince fans a message: The Vault is a myth. There are no new Prince albums, and nor are there creative, innovative people in charge right now of whatever is there.

I don’t reckon I’ll be dashing over to the wrecka stow for this one.

Will You Accept My Tears To Pay The Fare?

I got my first copy of Prince’s 1999 album accidentally.

See, when I was a kid, they had this brilliant sales tactic called a “record club.” So you signed up, and then if you didn’t cancel an order, they sent you the record anyway. This was a brilliant selling tactic that probably should have been illegal. But as a result, one of the albums I ended up with was weird and purple and had a penis on it.

Face it. That “1” in 1999 is a phallus. It just is. Let’s move on.

I had a bias at the time, I have to admit. I mean I was what, 14? And I didn’t like this boom-boom music. So I accepted the record, but I didn’t listen to it, for a while. I just didn’t. Until, one day, I did. I think it’s because “Delirious” was on the radio. I got it out and listened to it.

And this song came on.

It was called “Lady Cab Driver.”

There is a drum beat, and Prince calling for a taxi. Funky guitar and bass. Then Prince regaling the “lady cab driver” and engaging her in light conversation but then begging her for relief via escape.

Then there are the clock-chimes and the water-blow noises. And the part where he’s f*ing that broad and giving her the what-for.

And what’s with that flute-synth sound ?

And then the traffic noises continue and we fade into “All The Critics Love You In New York”

and I

was instantly a Prince fan

and I always will be

U no what I’m talkin’ about.

*

The eighth performance in the film Sign O’ The Times is a drum solo by Sheila E. The “E” stands for “Escavedo.” Her father is Pete Escovedo, a renowned percussionist in his own right. Tito Puente was her godfather, and she is also auntie to a young lady you may have heard of called “Nicole Ritchie.” Sheila was romantically involved with Prince at one time and, I was stunned to learn, was also in a thing at one time with Carlos Santana. Yeah.

Her album, “In The Glamorous Life” was always one of my very favorite Prince albums.

But there is a moment in the middle of her drum solo I think about often, because it shows her to be one of the most terrifying drummers out there. During the solo, Sheila gets rid of her sticks and starts beating the cymbals with her hands.

I have never seen another drummer do this. To my knowledge, Mick Fleetwood never did this, nor did John Bonham, nor even Stumpy Joe Childs. This is a move it took a girl drummer to do. She is the fiercest drummer ever and don’t ever forget it.

*

Prince didn’t merely record albums. He forged worlds. And for a while, one could look forward to entering one of these worlds pretty much annually. I’ve spent a good amount of time at Paisley Park (it’s in your heart), and at Christopher Tracy’s Parade. I’ve been talking stuff in the Violent Room, and I have kept Vicky waiting. I was of the New Power Generation and wanted to change the world.

And, I have most certainly spent a lot of time experiencing a religious epiphany known as “Lovesexy.”

It was three years ago on a Thursday. I had taken April 22 off of work to drive to my Grandma’s house for her birthday with my Dad. I had taken a break to peek at my phone, and there were reports of a body found in Chanhassen. Later reports confirmed the body belonged to Prince. He had been found slumped over in an elevator, which I immediately found to have been horribly poetic.

Punch a higher floor.

Strangely, that weekend, I had to explain Prince to my 92-year-old grandmother. To explain to her how widely admired was the Dude Extraordinaire, I broke out the big comparison. What was it like, I asked her, when you lost Glenn Miller?

I watched Purple Rain every night for a week once I returned. I have since re-written it in my head because it is not a good movie. I have also since purchased and digested Art Official Age, PlectrumElectrum, and Hit and Run Phases One and Two. These, his last released works, would all sit comfortably next to anything he had ever done; they are that good, which I find to be the largest shame of his end. I think he was ready to unleash at least another decade’s worth of music on us.

The Dance Electric

I like the Purple Rain Deluxe release. It collects many b-sides, extended mixes, and other oddities in one place. But, sadly, I think it is a missed opportunity.

The set contains three compact discs and on DVD of a March 1985 performance at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. CD #1 is the original soundtrack album. CDs #2 and #3 contain extended mixes and B-sides.

But they’re completely unproduced. No attempt was made to craft this material into a coherent album. I think CD #2 should be the original soundtrack with the extended mixes included and that CD #3 could be a produced, coherent album on its own.

And, why still are some of the most prominent songs from the film not included? “Sex Shooter” isn’t a Faulkner novel, but it is the only song we hear performed TWICE in the film. And even this expanded collection pretends that The Time doesn’t exist in the Kid’s universe. Meanwhile, Dez Dickerson’s “Modernaire” has essentially fallen off the planet. You can’t buy it, you can’t beg for it. It may be the most out of print music recording to have ever existed.

Here’s my mix:

    Disc One
  1. Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)
  2. Take Me With U
  3. The Beautiful Ones
  4. Computer Blue (Hallway Speech Version) / Darling Nikki (Aaron’s Edit)
  5. When Doves Cry
  6. I Would Die 4U
  7. Baby I’m a Star
  8. Purple Rain

    Disk Two
  1. Our Destiny / Roadhouse Garden
  2. Wonderful Ass
  3. Father’s Song
  4. Velvet Kitty Cat
  5. The Dance Electric (André Cymone)
  6. Katrina’s Paper Dolls
  7. Jungle Love (The Time)
  8. Erotic City (Extended)
  9. God (Love Theme from Purple Rain)
  10. Sex Shooter (Apollonia 6)
  11. 17 Days
  12. Electric Intercourse
  13. The Bird (The Time)
  14. Love and Sex

A few notes. On Disc One, I actually edited the Hallway Speech version to run into Darling Nikki as it does on the album. This way, you get the extended mix but the cohesion present on the album. This was astonishingly easy to do in Audacity. Or maybe I just got lucky.

My original mix of Disc Two started with the “extended version” of “I Would Die 4U.” I figured we’d start with an extension from the soundtrack and then lead to the new mix. But I couldn’t. It’s so bad. I have a problem with Eddie M’s improv skills. Always have. I’m like I improvised better than that when I was 16. Dude. Take some composition classes. Take some theory. Toot toot toot tee toot is not good solo. Sheila deserved a better sax player. Sorry, Eddie.

By the way, do not go on Amazon or eMusic or whatever looking for “Sex Shooter.” I had to order the vinyl from eBay and record the song from there (this is sad because I previously owned the album and got rid of it prior to the day that Prince stopped refusing to die). Worth it. Completely worth it.

I left off several other songs, too, including “We Can Fuck,” largely because I identify this song with the later masterpiece Graffiti Bridge (with the more finished “We Can Funk” featuring George Clinton). Also left behind, “Possessed,” which sounds like bad demo, and “Another Lonely Christmas,” which is not horrible but just feels irrelevant.

And, I’m sorry, but Andre’s version of “The Dance Electric” is just better. It’s more abbreviated. And he actually released it. Made a video for it, even. And why in the wide wide world of sports doesn’t this “deluxe edition” contain “Jungle Love,” “The Bird,” and “Sex Shooter?”

And, as noted, man, Dez Dickerson is the Rodney Dangerfield of this thing and of the world of recorded music generally. Not that “Modernaire” was Mozart, but it was * in the movie. * And this is the * deluxe * edition. Allegedly.

So that’s my mix of CD2 of Purple Rain. I don’t know what to call it. I’m thinking That’s Not Lake Minnetonka or Songs From The Dumpster. AAAFNRAA

2016 – BUMMERNACHT for DAYS

2016 sucked.

At least, that was the general consensus on the Internets.

I mean, throw a dart at any year and you will come up with a long list of musical notables who had stopped refusing to die. But 2016, for some reason, seemed particularly heinous.

David Bowie (January 10). Glenn Frey (January 18). Paul Kantner (January 28). Maurice White (Feb. 4). Vanity (Feb. 15). Keith Emerson (March 10). Merle Haggard (April 6). Jimmie Van Zant (April 7). Leon Russell (Nov. 13).

But for me, it didn’t get any worse than April 21. (Or so I thought, but that’s a different story…) Respect to every other musical mind we lost in 2016, but in April 2016, it just went from bad to worse. To the worst. The worst.

I was at work. I emptied myself into the hallway to stretch my legs and view social media. There was this weird news story on my phone about them finding a body at Paisley Park.

Calm down, says me to myself. They didn’t say it was him. Yet.

Four minutes later they’re saying it was him. It was him. It was him.

Prince Rogers Nelson had stopped refusing to die at age 57. It was not the most devastating loss I would face to Grim the Reaper in 2016. But it sure felt like it was.

As I left the office, I told my boss I was “going to go home and watch Purple Rain.” And I did. Twice. And several times after that. And once when it played at the Little Theater. I even watched Graffiti Bridge.

Man, he made horrible films.

But, so did Elvis. And Elvis was still Elvis.

Except for me.

Prince was my Elvis.

I was thinking of about when Prince came into my conciousness. I think I kept seeing the “Controversy” album for sale via some record club I was in. Then I think I heard “Delerious” on the radio one morning. Then there was the video for “1999.” Then I ended up with the 1999 album via another record club. And I didn’t listen to it for a while. And then when I did listen to it, really listened to it, I was blown away by the attention to detail. To the chiming clock and the flute orchestration during “Lady Cab Driver.” To the weird whirring baseline during “All The Critics Love U (In New York).” To the weird inneuendo in “Little Red Corvette.”

(Shortly after his death I could not help but joke:

“Little Red Corvette
This song is not actually about a car
Little Red Corvette
This song is about sexual intercourse actually.”
–Prince’s original draft

)

Everything. In total. About the album 1999 is great. Still is. That’s the lovely thing about it. It still stands up. Solidly. Even now, 17 years after the arrival of the title’s indicated year.

Yeah, I mean at 1999, I thought I was fairly hooked on Prince and probably had by that time even bought Controversy.

I could not have prepared myself at that time for Purple Rain.

Welcome to Zappadan. It’s purple.