Prince’s first side project, the Time, began with a fundamental musical concept: They were a vehicle for the hardcore funk and R&B from which he had mostly steered away in his own career, with an added touch of New Wave rock and roll in the vein of contemporary acts like the BusBoys. Everything else about the group, from their boutique vintage wardrobe to frontman Morris Day’s tongue-in-cheek pimp persona, was an elegant outgrowth of this conceit. By contrast, Prince’s second side project, the Hookers, began with an image, and not an especially sophisticated one–the name pretty much summed it up. So it’s no surprise that the music he composed for the group in mid-to-late 1981 had a distinct whiff of throwing everything against the wall and seeing what stuck: There was minimalist electro-punk (“Drive Me Wild,” “Make-Up”), New Wave-ized girl group pop (“Wet Dream,” “Jealous Girl”), and, with “Money Don’t Grow on Trees,” even a dash of vintage R&B.
I’m still hoping to finish my next proper post by the end of the week–though I have to say that today I’m laid out in bed with what feels depressingly like the flu, which is not the most conducive state for quality or coherent writing. I can, however, crank out a quick post to publicize my latest guest appearance on Darren Husted’s Prince: Track by Track podcast:
I believe we have two more of these scheduled before the end of the month, so I’ll be posting them as they become available. Unless, of course, I’m dying, in which case, goodbye cruel world!
Last week, I made my long-awaited, surreal, exhausting pilgrimage to the Twin Cities to attend the Prince from Minneapolis conference and Paisley Park’s Celebration 2018. I have complicated feelings, which I’m still processing–and will continue to do so, with the help of some other people who were there, on the podcast in the coming weeks. For now, though, I have some basic reactions to Celebration, and to the newly-released Prince song that was debuted on the event’s first day.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Celebration coming in–reports of last year’s event suggested a combination music festival, fan convention, and cult indoctrination–but in my experience, it was basically a corporate retreat for hardcore Prince fans. There were hours of panel discussions with ex-band members Gayle Chapman, Dez Dickerson, Matt Fink, and Bobby Z; photographers Allen Beaulieu, Nancy Bundt, Terry Gydesen, and Nandy McLean; and dancers Tomasina Tate and, um, Wally Safford. There were screenings of Prince concerts from the Piano & A Microphone, HitnRun 2015, and–via the associated “Prince: Live on the Big Screen” event at the Target Center–Welcome 2 America tours. There were live performances by Sheila E, fDeluxe (née the Family), and a (fantastic) new supergroup of New Power Generation alumni dubbed the Funk Soldiers. And, of course, there was the debut of the music video for Prince’s previously-unreleased studio version of his pop standard “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
January hasn’t been as productive on the blog front as I’d hoped–blame it on me actually having to work at my day job. Unfortunately, I don’t think next month will be much of an improvement, as I’ll be dedicating a lot of my blog-writing time to finishing my chapter for the upcoming Prince and the Minneapolis Sound anthology. Luckily, I have some excess productivity from last month to help me out, with another appearance on Darren Husted’s excellent podcast Prince: Track by Track. This time around, we’re discussing an underrated track from the O(+>/Love Symbol album, “Eye Wanna Melt with U”:
Slower-than-planned pace aside, I do still have a little bit saved up for the rest of the month: namely, a podcast episode of my own with scholar Kimberly Ransom. And, whatever else happens in February, I plan to at least start the month off right with the first of my posts on the 1981 debut by the Time. See you soon!
I know I wrote a lot about “Moonbeam Levels” earlier this week, but it turns out I had a lot more to say about Prince 4Ever (you’ve probably noticed, I always have a lot to say). So here’s a rundown of Prince’s compilations from 1993 to 2016, what each gets right, and why even now, we still need a truly definitive set. Check it out at Andresmusictalk below:
Next week, it’s back to the post-For You grind with a couple of light, but pleasant outtakes from mid-1978. See you then!