A Few Recent Posts from Dystopian Dance Party

(Featured Image: André Cymone’s underrated, alternate universe Vanity 6, the Girls, on the back cover of their 1984 album; © Columbia Records.)

I’m hoping to have my next post ready by the end of the week, but the Internet service in my new house might not cooperate; in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few recent links from my other blog, Dystopian Dance Party, that may be of interest to other d / m / s / r readers.

First, my sister and I recorded a podcast on the memoirs (plural!) of Rick James, with a fair amount of discussion about his longstanding, albeit mostly one-sided rivalry with Prince. It’s sort of an irreverent companion piece to my recent post on “Head,” so if you liked that and/or Rick James, check it out:

Dystopian Book Club Podcast, Jheri Curl June Edition: The Memoirs of Rick James

Second, just this morning I posted a short piece on the Girls, André Cymone’s spinoff group from shortly after he parted ways with Prince. Like so much about André’s career, I found it a good opportunity to reflect on the strange combination of luck, opportunity, and talent that made Prince a star over (and, at times, at the expense of) his friend and collaborator:

Jheri Curl June: The Girls’ “Girl Talk”

Like I said, hopefully I’ll have more to share shortly. Thanks in advance for your patience!

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When You Were Mine

When You Were Mine

(Featured Image: Cover art for “Is She Really Going Out with Him?” by Joe Jackson, 1979; © A&M Records.)

In early March, 1980–right around the same time Rick James was absconding with their Oberheim–Prince’s band took a break from the tour and spent a day at Disney World. “In Orlando, we decided to have some fun being tourists,” keyboardist Dr. Fink told journalist Mobeen Azhar. “We asked Prince to come along, too, but he said, ‘Go ahead. Have fun.’ I remember leaving him sitting outside the hotel room on the balcony, with his guitar. By the time we came back, he’d written ‘When You Were Mine’” (Azhar 23).

If “Head,” as suggested last week, was “the foundation upon which Prince’s racial, sexual, and personal preoccupations of the next decade were built,” then “When You Were Mine” laid the groundwork for his musical expansion. It was his first real foray into crossover territory: a masterful capital-“P” pop song with all the literary value of contemporary New Wave troubadours Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson. It wasn’t Prince’s first classic song–that, again, would be “I Wanna Be Your Lover”–but it was his first standard: timeless, durable, and rewarding of endless reinterpretations by other artists.

Continue reading “When You Were Mine”

Head

Head

(Prince and Gayle Chapman on Rick JamesFire It Up Tour, 1980; photo stolen from Reddit.)

“I can’t believe people are gullible enough to buy Prince’s jive records,” Rick James griped to Britain’s Blues and Soul magazine in 1983. “He’s out to lunch. You can’t take his music seriously. He sings songs about oral sex and incest” (Matos 2015). It was the first public shot across the bow in a years-long, mostly one-sided beef between the godfather of “punk-funk” and the young upstart who first rivaled, then surpassed him. But it was hardly the first time these titans had clashed: James’ comments were transparently rooted in tensions from three years earlier, when Prince was the opening act for his early 1980 Fire It Up tour. And it was just before his tour with James when the “mentally disturbed young man” debuted his most notorious song about oral sex, “Head.”

Continue reading “Head”

One Year of dance / music / sex / romance

One Year of dance / music / sex / romance

(Featured Image: Side 2 of 1999© Warner Bros.)

One year ago today, I launched dance / music / sex / romance on what should have been Prince’s 58th birthday. I had no real expectations: I knew, of course, that it would appeal to a wider audience than my usual content, but that’s a low bar to clear. The response, however, has been beyond anything I dared to hope. I’ve met some great people through this blog, and their/your excitement is infectious; it’s carried me through a few lean periods already, and is sure to carry me through plenty more in the future of this insane task I’ve given myself. In the past, I’ve sustained long-term projects through a combination of obstinance and a deep, insular commitment to taking inside jokes to their ultimate conclusions; this will be the first long-term project I’ll have sustained with a genuine sense of community.

So, yeah, about that whole “long-term” thing. As of this writing, I’ve completed two albums, and am about (seriously, I promise!) to begin a third. Projecting purely from this number, we’re in for a long ride: Prince had 39 “official” studio albums to his name, so at two albums a year, you can expect me to wrap up in about 2036. Of course, it isn’t that simple: I’ve actually covered about 45 songs, released and unreleased, in this first year of operation, and for a month or so in there I was barely writing at all. I’m confident that I’ll be more productive in my second year–though after that, who knows. And of course there’s always the possibility that I’ll give up, or be shut down by the estate, or otherwise rendered unable to continue. For now, I’m taking it one year at a time, and I’m very excited about the year to come.

In the meantime, if you’re new and wondering where to start, here’s a roundup of the territory we’ve covered so far:

Ephemera, 1975-1976
For You, 1978
Ephemera, 1977-1978
Prince, 1979

Or, if you prefer to read in purely chronological order, there’s always this option:

The Story So Far

Finally, you are probably already aware that I recently launched a podcast. Our first series is over, but it’s still an ongoing project! I have a lot of stuff lined up in the next few months that I’m excited about. For now, you can check out the first four episodes that I recorded with professional philosopher and amateur Prince scholar Jane Clare Jones:

Part 1: A Year Without Prince
Part 2: Dig If U Will
Part 3: The Most Beautiful
Part 4: Empty Room

Remember, you can also check out the podcast feeds at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play if you’re so inclined (Stitcher recommended over Google), or stream the episodes on Mixcloud.

Finally, before I retreat back into my hovel and finish writing that first Dirty Mind post, I have one more thing to announce: a little over a week ago, a few folks in the comments section proposed that I start a group of our own on Facebook. So, I did:

dance / music / sex / romance on Facebook

It’s a closed group, but if you’re reading this and you want another place to continue your discussions of the blog, or podcasts, or whatever else related to Prince, I invite you to join, and bring along anyone else you think might be interested!

I think that’s all for now. Again, I’ll be back by the end of the week with that monster post I’ve been working on. In the meantime, happy Prince Day, and thanks for reading!