Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

(Featured Image: CD Booklet from Carmen Electra, 1993; © Warner Bros.)

Look, guys, I’m not trying to fish for sympathy here, but it’s my goddamn birthday and I just wrote a post about Carmen Fucking Electra’s Prince-produced 1993 album. Okay, maybe I am trying to fish for sympathy. Just click the damn link and share in my misery:

Prince (Protégé) Summer: Martika and Carmen Electra

Don’t worry, though, I also take some time in this post to talk about Prince’s work on Martika’s Kitchen–which, incidentally, is also celebrating a birthday, as it turns 25 years old today! Remember to come back next week for more posts on, frankly, much better music. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go actually try to enjoy my birthday…Carmen-free.

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Crazy You

Crazy You

(Featured Image: Breno Mello and Marpessa Dawn in Black Orpheus, Marcel Camus, 1959; © Criterion Collection.)

Side One of For You opens with the title track, followed by “In Love” and “Soft and Wet.” On track four, Prince shifts gears for his first officially-released ballad: a jazzy, contemplative, acoustic guitar-driven sketch of a song called “Crazy You.”

It’s likely, of course, that “Crazy You” is somebody’s favorite track on the album, but I can’t imagine that’s a common sentiment. The song just isn’t designed that way; it’s made to melt into the background, serving as a short palate cleanser between the exhibitionistic single cuts “Soft and Wet” and “Just as Long as We’re Together.” Its structure is wispy, elusive: a single verse over a spare arrangement that just sort of disappears into the ether once it’s done. In many ways, it sounds more like a demo than a lot of the actual demos Prince recorded in 1977.

Continue reading “Crazy You”

In Love

In Love

(Featured Image: 1978 promotional poster; © Warner Bros., photo by Prince Poster Collector.)

During the course of this blog, I’ve already made a couple of passing references to the “Minneapolis Sound”; so I guess now is as good a time as any to talk about what that much-discussed label entails. At its most basic level, the Minneapolis Sound is a form of post-disco dance music rooted in R&B, with synthesizers replacing the traditional soul/funk horn section. Prince didn’t “invent” the style, strictly speaking; as we’ve seen (and will continue to observe), plenty of others helped along the way, from Pepé Willie to André Cymone (née Anderson) to Chris Moon and Owen Husney to the Lewis Connection–whose keyboard player Pierre Lewis, you might recall, was the one who lent Prince his first Oberheim Four Voice so he could synthesize those traditional horn parts in the first place. There’s a great collection on Numero Group called Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound that documents the genre’s early progression–including some early songs Prince actually played on, like the aforementioned “If You See Me” by 94 East and the Lewis Connection’s “Got to Be Something Here.”

What we can attribute primarily to Prince was the formal codification of the Minneapolis Sound as a genre, which he did by simply bringing it to a national audience and turning it into a marketable (and lucrative) style for others to reproduce. But even this process didn’t happen overnight. Case in point: “In Love,” the second track of his 1978 debut album For You, which sounds both exactly like vintage Prince–i.e., the “Minneapolis Sound”–and like something completely different.

Continue reading “In Love”

Prince (Protégé) Summer: The Graffiti Bridge Era

Prince (Protégé) Summer: The Graffiti Bridge Era

(Featured Image: Ingrid Chavez in Graffiti Bridge, 1990.)

I’m not gonna lie, guys: my enthusiasm was flagging for this post. Graffiti Bridge has never been my favorite Prince album/era, and I’m just not ready to give it another serious try (fortunately, I have plenty of time to work my way up to it on this blog). But I did my best to give Tevin Campbell, Elisa Fiorillo, and Ingrid Chavez the consideration they deserve (not Robin Power though, she’s still wack af).

Prince (Protégé) Summer: The Graffiti Bridge Era

Honestly, though, I should count my blessings, because next week is–deep breath–Carmen Electra. We all have a week to brace ourselves. Let’s start drinking now.