Review: Piano & A Microphone 1983

Review: Piano & A Microphone 1983

(Featured Image: Cover art for Piano & A Microphone 1983Photo by Allen Beaulieu, © the Prince Estate.)

Well, folks, I said I would have another post this week (and I really, truly am almost done writing it!), but there’s been so much going on today that I think it might be better to let it simmer until Monday. In the meantime, here’s something I wrote for my other side hustle at Slant Magazine about today’s excellent (yeah I said it, fight me) posthumous release:

Review: Piano & A Microphone 1983

Now I’m gonna go put the record on again and relax. Have a great weekend!

When We’re Dancing Close and Slow

When We’re Dancing Close and Slow

(Featured Image: Joni Mitchell by Norman Seeff, 1976.)

Prince, as we’ve noted before, had a tendency to distance himself from his second album in the years following its release; he seemed to consider its unabashedly commercial nature a compromise of his artistic ideals. And while I don’t necessarily agree with those views–I think Prince holds up very well as an album, hit-thirst be damned–when I look at the first side of the record in particular, I can kind of see his point. It is, as much as For You had been, a transparent proof of concept for Prince as an artist, presenting in turn each distinct facet of his musical personality circa 1979: opening with the frothy pop-funk hit, following it up with the bid for rock credibility, then moving straight into the dance-club heater. It’s as if he sequenced the first half of the album specifically for the charts he wanted it to make: Soul, Top 40, Disco. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that track four, and the Side B closer, represented that other crucial component of his signature sound: the seductive R&B ballad.

As predictable as it might seem at face value, though, “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow” is actually a pretty unusual track. Where later Prince ballads like 1981’s “Do Me, Baby”–actually demoed in early 1979 by André Cymone–sound like the archetypal post-Quiet Storm slow jams that they are, this song’s closest sonic precedent is “So Blue”: an oddball album cut from the second side of For You. Like that earlier song, “Close and Slow” owes as much of its ambience to folk-infused 1970s soft rock as to any kind of R&B; in particular, it’s another early signal of Prince’s artistic debt to Joni Mitchell.

Continue reading “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow”

4 Paisley Park’s Consideration: 14 Rarities That Need to Be on the New Purple Rain Reissue

4 Paisley Park’s Consideration: 14 Rarities That Need to Be on the New Purple Rain Reissue

(Featured Image: Purple Rain, 1984; © Warner Bros.)

Well, it’s been a while. I honestly try to post here at least once a week (preferably twice), but work and travel have been conspiring this month to severely limit my productivity. I hope to be back with a real post next week. For now, though, here’s a piece I wrote over two years ago: way back when the 30th anniversary Purple Rain reissue that was just re-announced for release in 2017 was actually going to be a 30th anniversary reissue. Check out the tracks I’m hoping to see on the bonus disc, and feel free to let me know how wrong I am in the comments:

4 Paisley Park’s Consideration: 14 Rarities That Need to Be on the New Purple Rain Reissue

Have a great weekend–hopefully I’ll get the chance to post again before Halloween!