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Remembering Prince – A Lifetime Fan’s Tribute in Memories

Uncredited. From Housequake.com.

In the late summer of 1984, I saw Purple Rain for the first time. I was 14. Adolescence had arrived, and was about to be taken for quite a spin with Prince Rogers Nelson at the wheel.

Every long time admirer of Prince has their memories. These are some of mine… 

  • Summer of 1984 (14 years old), driving home from baseball practice with my mom. Passenger side of her Buick Park Avenue. “When Doves Cry” on the radio. Ears perk. “Hmmm,” I think, “here’s something different.”
  • Late September 1984, my first viewing of Purple Rain. The experience was so vivid, yet I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember who was with me. Likely my friends Matt W. and/or Chris G. The reason I can’t recall is that I returned to the theater several times in the ensuing weeks to see it again. And again. And again. Watching the movie Purple Rain didn’t just spark my interest in Prince. It ignited several very potent megatons of TNT. It upturned my teenaged midwestern suburban existence. In the coming weeks, my Rod Carew posters would be untacked from the walls, methodically replaced by posters, magazine covers, pins, and photos of Prince (my poor folks – “what is happening to my kid??”). Yep, adolescence had come barreling down the road, ran a red light, and smashed right into this strange purple man from Minneapolis. It was on. I would learn about love, sex, funk, soul, the sacred & profane, but most importantly: tolerance and acceptance for all (“black, white, Puerto Rican everybody just a freakin’ good times…”). Prince opened my mind, and it hasn’t closed since.
  • Late ’84: Friday Night Videos premieres a live video of Prince and the Revolution live in Landover, MD. They perform “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m a Star.” Prince commanding that stage in a white lace getup. “Woof! woof! woof! woof woof!, you say it.. woof! woof! woof! woof woof!, any dogs in the house?” That Sheila E. timbales solo…
  • The American Music Awards, January ’85. Prince and the Revolution are all over the Lionel Richie-hosted show (“Outrageous!”). Prince’s bodyguard Big Chick escorts him to the stage. “Life is death without adventure.” A kiss for Vanity. Bar none, the very best live performance of “Purple Rain” I’ve seen to this day. Microphone kicked over during guitar solo. Cyndi Lauper going crazy in her front row seat.

  • A month later, the Grammys. “I Would Die 4 U” / “Baby I’m a Star.” Fantastic, but anticlimactic after the AMA performance of “Purple Rain” a few weeks earlier.
  • Several trips to Mainstream Records in downtown Racine, Wisconsin to grab the newly released 12″ maxi-singles the day they were released. New music! Most of the maxi-singles had an extended version of the A side (“Let’s Go Crazy,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Kiss”); but even better, brand new tunes on the B-side. “17 Days,” “Hello,” “She’s Always in my Hair,” “Love or $”… and I would snatch up the earlier 1999 releases too of course – “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” and “Irresistible Bitch,” possibly my two favorite B-sides.
  • Voraciously seeking out all of Prince’s projects and extended Minneapolis family. The Time, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, The Family, Sheila E., Andre Cymone, Jesse Johnson. Top tune of this bunch? Must be “777-9311.”
  • Calling into WLUM Milwaukee to request “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” from my DJ crush Alli Ellison.
  • In my room 1: Listening to every Prince album straight through, from the first to the latest. From For You through Purple Rain (six albums worth). Then For You through Around the World in a Day. Then For You through Parade. You get the idea.
  • In my room 2: “Performing:” A tennis racket with a strap tied to it for my guitar. A putter for my microphone (handy for the James Brown mic tricks). A lot of “Purple Rain” and a lot of “Irresistible Bitch” / “Possessed” / “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” from the Live 85 concert video. My brothers were away at college, so when my folks went out, it was mirror time. Damn if I didn’t nail those splits a time or two.
  • In my room 3: Posters of Vanity and Apollonia. 14, 15, 16 years old…       Moving on.
  • My first live Prince experiences: September 18-19, 1988 at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago. Prince was in the round for the Lovesexy tour. My high school sweetheart and I drove the 90 minutes from Racine. On night two we ran out to the loading ramp to watch Prince jump in his limo and speed away before the final notes sounded.
  • During college (Colorado College in Colorado Springs) between 1988-1992, there were many trips to Independent Records to pay exorbitant prices for bootleg albums and CD’s. ‘Chocolate Box,’ ‘The Black Album,’ live bootlegs of varying quality. I still have most of them, save for a couple I stupidly sold on eBay for a quick and fruitless cash grab.
  • My second set of live shows at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, April 1993 ( I had recently moved to Tempe, AZ). This was Prince’s Act II tour – gun microphone, wavy hair, and police hat with chains covering his face. Before the first show, a nice couple kept buying me tequila shots in a nearby bar – which I kept on not refusing. Not a wise decision. I recall night two much more vividly. Funny how that works.
  • A road trip to Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve 1993, triggered by a rumor that Prince would be performing at his Glam Slam nightclub. The result? I can’t even remember if it was just a DJ playing or a random band, but there was no Prince in the house. But hey, I did see Ice-T and Yo-Yo. Wasted trip? Yes.
  • 1997: My banner year for live Prince. Five shows + two aftershows! He stopped in Phoenix twice that year – April and October. April’s visit included an aftershow at Tempe’s Electric Ballroom. It was short but sweet, since the club had a curfew they couldn’t break. Prince and the band took over a local band’s gear onstage and played a Santana jam and “The Ride.” I found a live recording of it and posted it here. Later in October, my old pal Chris flew in from Florida, and we road tripped to SoCal for two Jam of the Year shows – at the Hollywood Bowl and Irvine Meadows Ampitheater. Yes, seeing Prince at the Hollywood Bowl was as awesome as it sounds. But the highlight of the month (and Life, perhaps?) came later that month after his Vegas gig at the MGM Arena. Rumors swirled that Prince and the band would be playing an aftershow at a club on the strip called Utopia. I promptly hauled ass to Utopia, where about 150 of us were rewarded in the early hours of October 25th. A Sly Stone cover (popular that year with his relatively new pal Larry Graham along for the tour), “Face Down”, “The Way You Do the Things You Do”, and a personal highlight, “I’ll Take You There.” I was twenty feet away, taking it all in. Pure magic.
  • The internet cometh. Prince chat rooms. Newsgroups! I was “ick1999” on alt.music.prince. Mostly a lurker. For the first time, an introduction to a community of like minded Prince lunatics.
  • April 2002. Prince’s One Nite Alone tour, and I’m engaged. Our first date was New Year’s Eve just a few months prior. 24 days later, we were engaged to be married. My fiancee Myra was quickly introduced to my Prince obsession up close and personal at the Dodge Theater in Phoenix.
  • And then… an 11 year Prince drought! The next, and sadly, my last time seeing Prince live came on May 1st, 2013. Prince was energized, fronting his all-female power trio 3rd Eye Girl at a midsize, intimate venue: the Marquee Theater in Tempe. There I was again, probably 50 feet from the man I’d been listening to and following avidly for almost 30 years. Watching him tear the stage up, ripping through “She’s Always in My Hair” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” Taking me to that familiar place… “in my room”… all of these memories flooding back – the same memories I’ve shared here.

Like most of you, I thought Prince would endure as that strange and wonderful musical genius, always a little bit under the radar, keeping that mysterious low profile. And like you, I was sure we’d be watching him perform well into the future as a sixty-something, a seventy-something, and even beyond. He seemed otherworldly and immune to “time,” didn’t he? Well, that all obviously shattered on that awful morning of April 21st.

Prince is gone. And I think the biggest reason I haven’t typed a word about him all year – my very favorite artist – is that it still doesn’t seem real. Prince dead? Impossible, man. Does not compute. It still just doesn’t quite make sense to me. But gone he is.

The beauty of it all is that his music endures.

I’m 46 now, and still under that purple spell. Always will be. Just as I thought to myself in my room all those years ago. 

Prince – “”Just My Imagination” (from the 8-19-1988 aftershow in The Hague, Netherlands)

The Stone: The Return of André Cymone

andrecymone-1

If you were ever sucked into the Prince vortex, as I was in 1984, you quickly found yourself seeking out every last morsel of musical goodness from anything Prince-related. In the mid-80’s, that meant marching into your local record store and snapping up albums by The Time, Apollonia 6, Vanity 6, The Family, and Sheila E. There were also those who had bid the Prince camp farewell, most notably at that point: Time members Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Morris Day, and Jesse Johnson. And once you went digging back into Prince’s earliest years, you discovered his original bass player and childhood friend André Cymone.

André left the band in 1981 after the Dirty Mind tour had wrapped, and Prince was moving on to his next album, Controversy. André signed with Columbia and released three albums over the next four years: Livin’ In The New Wave (1982), Survivin’ In The 80’s (1983), and A.C. (1985). His biggest hit came from A.C., the Prince penned and co-produced “The Dance Electric.”

André then moved on to producing artists like Jermaine Stewart, Adam Ant, and Jody Watley, to whom he was briefly married (Jody’s “Still a Thrill” is one of my favorite 80’s R&B tracks).

And then, André dropped off the grid, leaving the business and focusing instead on raising his children. The music bug never left him (how could it?), and after some poking and prodding by his kids over the last several years, it was time to hit the studio again. He popped up in 2012, releasing a tune called “America,” with all proceeds going to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. He followed that up with “Trayvon” in 2013, in tribute to Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

Now, 29 years after his last album, it’s great to say that André Cymone is truly back. The Stone, Andre’s independently funded and distributed album (via PledgeMusic), was officially released on February 18th.

My first impression on hearing “Rock and Roll,” the album’s opening track, was the swagger and confidence it carries. You’d never guess that this was an artist who just returned from a nearly three decade hiatus – that is unless André addressed it right off the bat, which he does: “You waited long enough / now it’s time to play my game / Before you leave here baby / you gonna know my name.”

In the early 80’s, André’s solo albums were steeped in a funk-pop-new wave hybrid. The 21st century André, with the help of some quality backing players, has a more straight ahead rock and pop feel. There are strong uptempo rock numbers, from “Rock and Roll,” “Let Your Sunshine,” and “Radio,” to “Naked,” the 60’s brit-pop of “If Not For You,” and one of the strongest tracks, the album closer “Live Life,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Lenny Kravitz album.

Things get interesting when André unplugs midway through the album with the folk/pop of “It’s Alright” and the introspective acoustic “One Day.”

“It’s Alright” has an upbeat, summery feel – a catchy melody with a folky brush-shuffle tempo.

“One Day” is, to these ears, a thinly veiled letter to his old friend Prince. With lines like “We were close like a hand in glove / shared the bond of a brother’s love / Now we don’t have a word to say,” “Struck it rich, we were on our way,” “Had to leave I could not stay”… it’s pretty clear that André is reconciling this long standing broken relationship. I don’t know André personally, but I feel his humanity and his genuine compassion in this song and throughout the album.

I also don’t know Prince personally, but I’ll offer an outsider’s opinion: Prince seems to concern himself with two things: the here and the now. Those in Prince’s circle are valued and worked to the core. But when the expiration date comes, and his interests have moved on to other things (and people), he seems to cast them aside with a clinical and unemotional ease, and he never looks back. Talented and much admired musicians – even old friends like André – are left in his wake. Perhaps I’m reading too much into “One Day,” but that’s what I get out of it.

What thrills me as a long time fan of Prince, and all of the associated artists that spun off from him in those early years, is seeing someone like André Cymone reemerge all these years later and display that same badass quality, that same swagger, showing that he hasn’t missed a step. But it’s also great to bear witness to the music of a caring, down to earth human being who shares in the same life struggles, joys and adventures that we all do – all in a very grass roots and organic way.

The Stone is a solid and impressive return to the game, and yes – a treat to all of us sucked into that Prince vortex so many years ago. Welcome back, André. A lot of us were waiting and wondering, and we’re glad you’re back.

♠ Buy The Stone on Amazon.

Buy The Stone on iTunes.

♣ Check out André on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

♥ André will be heading out on tour soon. If you’re in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, check him out at First Avenue on March 16th.

Pete’s Top 10 in Music – 2013

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2014 will be to spend more time banging out some thoughts on this blog (which will turn 10 in December). It mystifies me how fast time flies between my posts here (and time in general).  I want to come here more often and blurt out my reactions to all the good tunes swirling around out there. So what holds me back? It’s things like growing older, deepening responsibilities, two children growing up, work, stress, obligations, laziness, Netflix, bourbon…

Still, it’s important for me to continue to have this outlet. Although attention spans on the internet are fleeting and fragmented, and not many eyes gaze upon this site anymore, I still like having my own little virtual nook. So continue on I shall, and hopefully more frequently.

So what of my musical interests in 2013? As usual, not so much time was spent jumping voraciously into newly released material (although there are a few that rattled my core). I still love jumping back in time (often with the help of Rdio and Spotify) to discover and re-discover the myriad tunes I’ve missed and/or neglected all these years.  It’s overwhelming, but it sure is exciting to know that so much music exists with the potential to have that profound impact that makes it so special.

So here’s my top 10 in music this year. These are the albums, songs, shows and moments that moved me in 2013…

10. [Album] Billie Joe + Norah – ‘Foreverly

norah-billie

This album came out in November and absolutely floored me. I had no expectations, and frankly wasn’t even aware of it until the week it came out. I took a listen, and I was hooked a minute into the album opener, “Roving Gambler.” The voices of Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame) and Norah Jones mesh perfectly in this sublime song for song cover of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. The whole album soothes my laid back, old folkie soul.

9. [Song] Kings of Leon – “Temple

Saturday Night Live still has some great moments. Besides the regular appearances of my favorite cast members Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Taran Killam, the music guests can deliver and surprise. I enjoyed Haim this year, and I really enjoyed the Kings of Leon appearance, particularly “Temple,” the best straight ahead rock tune I’ve heard all year.
Here is KoL’s performance of the song from Live on Letterman:

8. [Song] Alice Smith – “Loyalty

Deep. Stunning. What a flawless voice. This slow burning, soulful track from Alice’s album, She, was an early year highlight. I saw her open for Citizen Cope several years back, and here’s hoping she makes it back to AZ soon, ’cause Alice, I Want You Just For Me.

7. [Song] Guy Clark – “My Favorite Picture Of You

Photo credit: Nashvilleportraits.com
Photo credit: Nashvilleportraits.com

Want your heart ripped right out of your chest, tossed around like a hot potato, and shoved back in? In a good way? Then this tune is for you. This is Guy’s tribute to his late wife, Susanna, who passed away in 2012. Here’s an intimate intro and performance from Guy’s home:

6. [Show] Steve Earle & the Dukes – Scottsdale Center of the Performing Arts – October 14th

steveearle2013

It had been 10 plus years since I last saw Steve perform with his band the Dukes. This year’s incarnation included long time members Kelly Looney on bass and Will Rigby on drums, and husband and wife-duo the Mastersons (Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore) on guitars, violin and background vocals. Seeing them in the hoity-toity confines of Scottsdale among the older set (okay, blue hairs) was entertaining in and of itself, but the main event was clear as could be: the bad-ass Steve Earle front and center, ripping through songs new and old, including his great new record The Low Highway. Highlights for me came from my favorite Steve album, I Feel Alright, with rip-roaring performances of “Hard Core Troubadour” and “Billy & Bonnie.”

5. [Album] John Grant – ‘Pale Green Ghosts

john_grant

Thanks to Later with Jools Holland, a British music show which started airing stateside this year on the Palladia HD channel, I was introduced to the talented John Grant. ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ is electronic, melodic, grandiose, and beautiful. One of its best songs, “GMF,” will have you singing along loud & proud: “I am the greatest motherfuckerrr that you’re ever gonna meet / from the top of my head down to the tips of the toes on my feeet.” I’m telling you.

4. [Show] Prince & 3rd Eye Girl – Marquee Theater, Tempe, AZ – May 1st
prince-late2013

It was a really long drought for me between Prince shows. I hadn’t seen him since his One Night Alone tour in 2002, when he was touring behind The Rainbow Children album. This time, it was Prince (full on ‘fro in effect) and his new all-female backing trio 3rd Eye Girl, in the intimate setting of the 1000-capacity Marquee Theater in Tempe. I wasn’t further than 50 feet from him, and as you could guess, the experience was unforgettable. There were the impressive new cuts like “Screwdriver” and “Fixurlifeup,” but the true magic for me came with tunes like “Forever In My Life” (with P on bass), “Joy In Repetition” (with Larry Graham on bass), and “Purple Rain” performed at the piano. Ain’t no party like a purple party.

3. [Album] Phosphorescent – ‘Muchacho

phosphorescent-muchacho

Matthew Houck released a hell of an album this year with ‘Muchacho.’ Its lead single, “Song for Zula” was a gorgeous introduction, an honest look at love and the frailty of the human condition. The album is rich with poignant, beautiful moments. Take for instance one of my favorites, “Down to Go”:

You say, Oh, you’ll spin your heartache into gold
And I suppose but it rips my heart out don’t you know
But if I’m waking each morning babe
All aching and ornery babe
All vacant and thorny, hey I’m down to go

Seeing Matthew and his band sing these songs live back in October at their Crescent Ballroom show – magnified the beauty and brilliance of this album, and showed how great music lives and breathes.

2. [Show] The Who – Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, AZ – February 6th

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This may go down as the best last minute decision I’ve ever made. I had just wrapped up Pete Townshend’s great autobiography Who I Am early in the year, and was fully immersed in The Who and Pete’s solo work. It turned out that The Who were stopping through Phoenix in February, performing Quadrophenia in its entirety, followed by a greatest hits set. They are definitely  a Bucket List-caliber band to me, so I recruited a friend and got a couple of tickets. I’m so glad I made that decision. Watching Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey live (yes, even in 2013) is a must for any fan of rock & roll. Seeing them blast through hits like “Baba O’Riley,” “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and the full epic performance of Pete’s rock opera, Quadrophenia, was a once in a lifetime thrill. I soaked it all in, and walked out with a Who-induced buzz that lasted weeks. Fantastic show.

1. [Artist] Neil Young

neil young2501

I’ll finish with Neil.

Once again, a book was the catalyst in inspiring me to jump into a catalog of work. I found Neil’s bio, Waging Heavy Peace,  a very entertaining read. It jumps from past to present and back, and you just never know what topic he’ll cover from chapter to chapter – whether it’s his Buffalo Springfield days in the 60’s, his adventures in Topanga Canyon in the 70’s, his passions in this century of developing a superior quality audio file or his alternate-fueled LincVolt car project… he’s all over the place (sort of how my brain behaves most of the time), and that appealed to me in the book.  So to accompany the book, I jumped head first into Neil’s catalog later this year – his vast collection of solo albums (wow, still a long way to go), the Springfield stuff, his Crazy Horse records, etc. Now, I’ve always loved Neil’s stuff – the stuff I’ve been familiar with over the years, that is. Albums like Harvest, Harvest Moon, and Rust Never Sleeps.  But for some reason, I hadn’t tracked down other gems – the biggest miss being his second album, 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Yes, I know “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down By The River,” but damned if I didn’t discover that I had never – not once – listened to this 44 year old record in my entire 43 years on this planet! Over the past couple months, as I’ve listened repeatedly to masterpieces like “The Losing End (When You’re On)” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” – and I realize that this record would have been right up there with some of my landmark “life” albums (like ‘Sticky Fingers,’ ‘Hard Promises,’ and ‘Purple Rain’)… well, I feel like a dope.

But such is life. Better late than never. And speaking of Bucket Lists – Neil Young, you are right up there near the top. Cheers to a legend.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62XcMCzIIas

Prince at the Marquee Theater – May 1st – Setlist

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Man, what a night! What a thrill to see Prince in the intimate confines of the Marquee Theater in my hometown.

I’m old school, so the highlights for me were seeing Prince front and center from 20 feet away singing “Joy In Repetition” (with Larry Graham in the background on bass), “Forever In My Life (with Prince on bass, Ida on keys), and “She’s Always In My Hair.”

“Purple Rain” with P on keys was also magnificent, although I wish he would’ve started on keys and moved to the guitar for the solo..

The crowd was electric, the joint was packed, and I was one happy Prince fan after an 11 year drought since I last saw him live.

Prince
Marquee Theater
Tempe, AZ
May 1, 2013

Start Time: 8:23pm
End Time: 10:11pm

The Breakdown
Let’s Go Crazy
Endorphinmachine
Screwdriver
Dreamer (with Bowie’s “Fame” snippet) >
Play That Funky Music
She’s Always in My Hair
The Love We Make
Forever In My Life
Joy in Repetition (w/ Larry Graham)
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) [w/ Larry Graham]

***sampler set***
When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl
Sign o the Times
A Love Bizarre
Housequake
I Would Die 4 U
Hot Thing
Pop Life
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Purple Rain
Adore

**Encore**
Let’s Go (The Cars cover)
Guitar
Plectrum Electrum
Fixurlifeup

The Friday Five: March 30, 2012

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Every Day I Have the Blues” by Count Basie (from Verve Jazz Masters 2, 1994)

You know, despite the title, this number swings like mad. I’m not sure I’d swing so hard if I had the blues everyday. Memphis Slim sure didn’t write it this way.

“Got Me Under Pressure” by ZZ Top (from Greatest Hits, 1992)

Driving beat; thumping bass line; Berry-esque boogie–yep, it’s a by-the-numbers ZZ Top hit.

“Hot Thing (dub version)” by Prince (from 12″ Archive 2.0, 2001)

Makes me long for the days when Prince would put out singles stuffed to the gills with b-sides and remixes.

“Kit (What’s the Scoop)” by Slick Rick (from The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, 1988)

Rick the Ruler! I wore out at least two copies of this cassette back in the day.

“Dancing Nancies” Dave Matthews Band (from 1995-02-25: DMBLive: Lafayette College-Allan Kirby Field House, Easton, PA, 2010)

This is a pretty subdued version of the DMB live staple.

What’s on your shuffle today?

IckMix 6: Move

I put this together for my brother a few months ago as a running/exercise companion. Since then, I’ve listened to it quite a few times on my runs, and quite simply, it pretty much kicks ass.

So download, throw it on your iPod/iPhone/SmartPhone of choice, and move! (Or, sit back in a La-Z-Boy with a strong cocktail. You do what you want, I’m not your daddy).

IckMix 6: Move (mp3)

[audio:ickmix6.mp3]

1. “Month of May” – Arcade Fire (3:51) | The Suburbs
2. “Bushwick Blues” – Delta Spirit (3:44) | History from Below
3. “Seaside Bar Song” – Bruce Springsteen (3:35) | Tracks
4. “Run Runaway” – Slade (5:01) | The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome
5. “Now It’s On+ – Grandaddy (4:08)  | Sumday
6. “When My Time Comes” – Dawes (5:08) | North Hills
7. “A More Perfect Union” – Titus Andronicus (7:10) | The Monitor
8. “The Leader” – The Clash (1:42) | Sandinista!
9. “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)” – Pat Travers Band (5:06) | Pat Travers Band…Live! Go For What You Know
10. “Let’s Go Crazy (Special Dance Mix)” – Prince (7:37) | Ultimate
11. “Freedom Park” – Marah (4:35) | 20,000 Streets Under The Sky
12. “I Do (LP Version)” – J. Geils Band (3:08) | Monkey Island

The Friday Five: January 20, 2012

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Stay” by Erykah Badu (from Live, 1997)

“I’ma test this out…” admits Badu at the beginning of this track, copping to the fact that she intended to cover the Rufus classic at the Soul Train awards show, but “got scared.” She then proceeds to absolutely kick the type of performance that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

“Pope” by Prince (from The Hits/The B-Sides, 1993)

“You don’t understand … I ain’t scared of you mutha fuckers!”

“Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen (from Greatest Hits, 1995)

I suppose I’m beholden to discuss The Boss’ new tune in this space, but I have only listened to it once or twice. The jury is still out, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not a bad song, it just seems a little heavy handed. While not as big a Springsteen fan as most of you that read the Five, I still felt the absence of Clarence at the close where his solo clearly should have been.

“Home Sweet Home” by Mötley Crüe (from Theatre of Pain, 1985)

Vince Neil recently played a show locally. I don’t know why that matters, I just found it odd to think he’s still out there trying to sustain some form of a career without the Crüe. I suppose that will all stop once their Vegas residency starts.

“Stuck With You” by Huey Lewis & The News (from Time Flies… The Best of Huey Lewis & The News, 1996)

“Stuck With You” is only behind “If This Is It” in my list of favorite Huey Lewis tunes.

What’s on your shuffle today?

Still Wishin’

I had all but given up checking the news wire for the new release from the original members of The Time.  Jimmy Jam told us it was “coming soon” when I saw them in June of 2010 and I think the last time I googled “The Time” and “New Album” was in September of this year.

Imagine my surprise (I guess a watched pot never boils) when I opened the Minneapolis Star Tribune today and saw that the original 7 members of The Time (now called The Original 7ven) had played a gig here in town last Saturday night at the State Theater. More shocking was their new album, Condensate, had slipped out on October 18 and I didn’t even notice! Kicking myself for not being more attentive, I immediately scrambled for my iPhone and downloaded it straight away.

As I was watching each song load onto my iPhone, I wondered if the disc would live up to the hype I had built up in my mind. I had been waiting for a new album from The Time since their 1990 release, Pandemonium and my dream to someday be Morris Day had actually grown stronger as I had gotten older. I admit that I had my doubts about this new offering. Would they still be relevant in the year 2011?

As soon as I heard the opening dialogue between Morris and Jerome as they visit their old hood in North Minneapolis, I knew that I would be: a) way the fuck off for ever having any doubts whatsoever and b) in for a real treat.

The first track, “Strawberry Lake,” is straight from the same shop where one can buy paisley dripped rasberry berets. In fact, this tune, being the lead off number, almost makes me wonder if it isn’t a giant middle finger to Prince who would not allow the lads to use the name “The Time” for this record.

After this we have a “press conference” in which Morris explains to a reporter why he is still cool. The answer is hilarious and leads straight into the title track. This skit, along with many others sprinkled throughout the album, is vintage Morris/Jerome and ranks right up there with “If The Kid Can’t Make You Come” and “Sexy Socialites/Jerk Out.”

“#Trendin”, the album’s single, fits perfectly into any club at 1am when the bodies are moving and sweating…it’s beat, relentless and pounding…and has lyrics that bring the boys firmly into the 21st century with Morris singing about “tweetie pies posting on blogs.” Regardless of what time it is (:)), we can always count on Morris to be the hippest of the hip. Honestly, our current age of digital vanity and Morris Day are a match made in heaven.

The next two tracks “If I Was Yo Man” and “Role Play” are up beat love songs that both shine in their own special way. The latter oddly reminds me of Tony Carey/Planet P Project with Morris’ haunting voice seemingly coming from another world. It’s here that we fully realize how important it is to have Jimmy and Terry at the producing helm.

Then we come to the albums two gems: “Sick” and “Lifestyle.” The former showcases some serious shredding by Mr. Jesse Johnson. His solos are nothing short of stunning and several of the lyrics made me grin from ear to ear. The lyrics to “Lifestyle,” the true ballad of the album, made me laugh out loud at several points and brought my desire to be Morris Day to an all time high. The song is simply perfect for every single thing that these guys are all about….vanity with none of the downside…rampant materialism that’s not shallow in any way but is actually cool…ego with perfectly understandable reasons…swagger that is completely justified because…well, it’s Morris!

Next up is “Faithful” which showcases some great back up vocals by some very hot sounding ladies. “Cadillac” could easily be on their self titled debut or “What Time Is It?” and continues that materialism-is-the-best meme in yet another successful way. “Aydkmn” makes use of the word persneckity in its chorus which marks the first time I’ve ever heard that used in a song. “One Step” and “Toast To The Party Girl” both sound like they were recorded in 1983 but that’s probably the (wonderful) idea. “Hey Yo” is also straight from that decade (now working on 30 years ago!) that saw so many power ballads just like it.

The last track, “Go Home To Yo Man,” gives us that last little gift that these guys have always given us: melancholy humor. The story in this song is amusing but also somewhat serious as Morris croons, “Play time is over and you got to go home to yo man.” As the final strains of this last track fall away with Morris (fake?) crying, one has to wonder why the 07 waited so long to make new music. I’ve always been an impatient fellow and this is especially true when it comes to my great love…music. Perhaps they didn’t have the tunes or maybe they were just taking their time (I know, I know…the puns are too easy:)) but do any of us care? I know I don’t because it was well worth the wait. This record is fantastic.

And I still wish I was Morris Day!

Here’s the video for the single “#Trendin” although “Sick” “Lifestyle” “Cadillac” and “Strawberry Lake” should be downloaded before it.

Morris Day and the Time, or, How I Made Peace With a Fake Jerome

Shame on me. I should’ve known better. But now I know: “Morris Day & the Time” is not the same thing as “The Time“.

A few weeks back, a local Old School radio station, Mega 104.3, threw itself a 10th birthday party at one of the cool, retro venues in town, Phoenix’s Celebrity Theater. The bill: 70’s R&B outfit GQ, disco/funk/jazz group Brick, and the evening’s headliner, Morris Day and the Time.

Morris Day and the Time? Hell yeah I’m going! So in the days leading up to the big night, I’m checking out the “Original” Time’s Facebook page and wondering why they’re not plugging their gig in Phoenix. I’m reading their tweets, and notice no chatter at all about any upcoming gigs (if you’re following them, you see approximately 2-3 tweets a day about their new album to be released this fall – ad nauseam, day after day with no details).

But still I don’t connect the dots. I meet up with my friend Jen and head to the Celebrity Theater excited as all hell to see Jimmy, Terry, Jesse, Morris, Jellybean, Monte, and maybe even ol’ Jerome.

So we were close to the stage (which is in the round, by the way, rotating slowly clockwise & counter-clockwise), about 6 rows back. First, GQ was introduced. Out walked a single solitary man – “Mr. Q”, I soon found out – aka Emmanuel Rahiem LeBlanc. He played guitar and sang a short set of his hits along to a full backing track. Interesting, and I came away thinking, “Man, you gotta hand it to Mr. Q for having the balls to keep the GQ thing going on his own.”

Next up: Brick. Most of you have heard “Dazz” I’m sure. Here…

And Brick killed it! They were great. The star of the show was without a doubt Mr. Jimmy Brown – singing, dancing, and alternating flawlessly between sax, trumpet, and flute. He’s gotta be in his mid to late 60’s, and he just won over the crowd from the first song. It was a Disco Jazz Funk workout – great stuff, and completely unexpected. Jimmy Brown: a consummate showman.

So after Brick tore it up, the mood was just right when Morris Day and the Time were introduced, and out walked the boys in the band.

“Huh”, I thought, “that doesn’t look like Jesse..”
“Okay, that looks like Jellybean.”
“Well, that’s not Jimmy Jam.”
“And that’s definitely not Terry Lewis on bass.”
“That looks like Monte on keys.”

My “A-ha” or “What the fu–” moment came when a short chubby guy in a hat came out with a mirror, playing the part of valet. A fake Jerome!! Nooooo!!

The immediate feeling was disappointment. I felt like I was watching a Vegas tribute act, where each member tried to resemble the originals. Yeah, Morris came out and they launched into “Cool” and “Wild & Loose”, but it just didn’t feel right. It seriously took me 20-30 minutes before I loosened up and accepted “Morris Day and the Time”, and got back into the spirit of the night. The rest of the crowd didn’t seem to mind a bit. There was crazy Morris Day, after all, working his 30 year old schtick in the flesh.

Granted, it was good to see drummer Jellybean Johnson. It was good to see keyboardist Monte Moir. Obviously it was fun to see Morris sing those great songs: “Jerk Out”, “Jungle Love”, “The Bird”, “777-9311”, “The Walk”. And no disrespect to the musicians either, including bass player Ricky “Freeze” Smith and guitarist Tori Ruffin.

But I was led to believe I was gonna see the real thing.

It turns out I didn’t do my homework. A couple of my Prince peeps on Twitter acknowledged that Morris regularly tours with this band as “Morris Day and the Time”. And one of my buds, Mr. Popblerd, was right when he remarked that it’s bad for the brand.

So buyer beware. Morris Day and the Time is not The Time, or, rather, The Original Time Band – I mean The Original 7ven. Confusing, I know – but when you’ve worked for Prince, everything’s complicated.

You’ll have a good time with Morris Day and the Time. You just need to make your peace with a fake Jerome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02inZ3wy-Qo&w=480&h=390

The Friday Five: September 2, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“AC/DC Bag” by Phish (from 2004-06-18: KeySpan Park, Brooklyn, NY, USA, 2004)

Nothing like easing back into the Friday Five with a jammy bit o’ goodness from Vermont’s finest. After six days without power, I probably resemble a touring phan more than I’d care to admit.

“Crank Me Up” by BulletBoys (from BulletBoys, 1988)

Well it isn’t “Smooth Up in Ya,” or “For the Love of Money,” so … next!

“Now” by Prince (from The Gold Experience, 1995)

“Don’t worry about my name, it’s 2 long 2 remember. I could tell U now, but we’d be here ’till next September” For as clunky, and dated, as some of the material on The Gold Experience is, it still kicks a good bit of ass.

“Beck’s Bolero” by The Jeff Beck Group (from The Rolling Stone Collection: 1967-1969, 1993)

Duh-da-da-da-duh-da-da-da-duh-da-da-da-duh-duh-duh

“Snakes in Schubas” by Jason Mraz (from Selections for Friends, 2007)

So before I close this out, I want to thank Jeff Giles for picking up my slack last week. I also want to give a plug, and plea, for everyone to check out After the Flood: A Compilation to Benefit Upstate New York Victims of Hurricane Irene. It’s a few bucks for a good cause, and in return you’ll get a great collection of tunes from some of New York’s finest singer/songwriters.

What’s on your shuffle today?