Category Archives: Prince

#97 … SPB’s Top 100 Records

#97 The Glamorous Life by Sheila E.

“Boys with small talk and small minds really don’t impress me in bed.” When I first heard that line at age 16 I thought it was the height of adult lyrical cleverness. It doesn’t impress me the way it did back then, but whenever I hear this Prince-written classic on the radio or it comes up on an old mix-CD I still find myself singing right along with that line and smiling just a lil bit. This single came out at the very tippy-top height of my (and everyone’s?) Purple Rain-era Prince obsession, when almost everything I listened to was written and/or produced and/or conceived and/or performed by Prince: Vanity (and eventually Apollonia) 6, The Time, The Family…but there was something about this song—its rhythmic inventiveness or Sheila E’s virtuosic drum work, Prince’s coy barely-there echo of Sheila’s lead vocal or the arch cynicism of its lyric; probably a combination of all of the above—that made this my second favorite Prince extracurricular track after Vanity 6’s incredibly salacious (and downright funky) “Nasty Girl.” Of course, at age 16, it was easy to love Sheila Escovedo: she was a real musician who also looked (and moved) like a sexy centerfold, and she would help to bring out the best in Prince’s freakness with her collabo work on “Erotic City,” one of the finest of Prince’s fecund b-sides period of the mid-80s. For a suburban music geek like me, this was like striking gold: it could be hard to find popular, women-of-color who played an instrument and turned me on at the same time. There is one thing though, as I trot down memory lane: Listening to “Glamorous Life” now, it sounds terribly fast to my ears and knees, like it was produced and created to be the dance song of choice for cokeheads everywhere—did we really dance (move? live?) that fast in the 80s?

Hear the music here:

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Filed under music, Prince, Top 100 Records

SPB Interviews PRINCE in SPIN (1991)

{In honor of the 20TEN review, I thought I’d post access to an interview I did with th Royal One back in 1991. Hope you enjoy it!}

Back when I was a cub reporter (ha!) at SPIN magazine, Bob Guccione, Jr, dispatched me to Paisley Park to “interview” Prince. I put that word in quotes because Prince never really wants to be “interviewed.” I’m convinced that what he likes is to chill with journalists, pick their brains a bit, tease them with some new tunes, then send them on their merry way. In other words, I got to Paisley Park and was told to check my tape recorder at the door. Of course, since my expected hour with Prince turned into a coupla days—filled with a tour of Paisley Park (including a few minutes in his private aerie-office), a “hangout” of sorts at Glam Slam, a personal, full-band performance (I was the only audience member) of the upcoming Diamonds and Pearls tour,  a look at the archives (where I saw homeboy’s Oscar), and a chill-out session in the studio where Prince himself played me Diamonds and Pearls—I had to run to the bathroom a coupla times to try to write down the things he said. Eventually I just gave up and gave myself over to the experience. And what an experience it was, starting with the moment he stepped up to me, offered me his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Prince.”

PS: I saw Prince again a few years later, at a Grammy party in Manhattan. He had me summoned over to his table and looked at me for a full minute before he smiled and said, “I like what you said about me on TV.” I’d had his back in a discussion, on a TV show I used to do on VH1, about his “slave” period versus Warner Brothers, and it took me a second to remember what he was talking about. Eventually we chatted for a few more minutes, then I left him to his peeps and went back to mine. It’s not often that you meet the artist you love more than any other, and he sorta gives you props….

I hope you enjoy the “interview,” really the jottings of a young journalist at the start of his career and way out of his league, but having the absolute time of his life…

Go to Google Books here for the interview, pics and all…


Filed under music, Prince, Uncategorized, writing

Prince’s “20TEN” … the SPB review

{Sorry for the delay in getting this posted. Life sorta got in the way of blogging last week. Thanks for coming back. Enjoy.}

“My reputation precedes me/Call it a ‘claim to fame…’” ~ Prince, “Beginning Endlessly,” from 20TEN

Did you know that you can actually buy the 80s Prince drum sound? From places like here and here?

To be frank, I miss the creativity of Prince’s use of that rigidly rhythmic drop-kick of the early Linn-drum. There was something comforting in the way it introduced some songs and tricked up the backbeat of others, propping up the funk one minute (like “Kiss”) or rocking hard the next (like “Let’s Go Crazy”). Add the soaring and space-commanding keyboard work, and it was clear that Prince was doing nothing less than re-arranging the way pop/r&b/rock was supposed to sound on the radio and in clubs and concert halls. He’d had the ability to will music into his own distinct sound.

I haven’t played a lot of Prince’s recent music. Unlike him, I guess I was stuck in the past, reveling in the beauty and passion and ground-building of those early days. Sure, he was good for a great tune on some of those records, and as an artist he has every right to move beyond the sounds that made him famous, rich, popular, and my favorite artist. But I often felt as if he was either trying too hard to be relevant or legendary or contrary. I’m sad to say I just didn’t want to pay attention again. Then I heard 20TEN, and it feels odd to say: Only Prince would release his best, most consistent album in a while, for free in a European newspaper.

So this is a very selfish piece of writing. I got what I’ve wanted from Prince for a long time, a blast from the past that manages not to sound like a retread or placeholder. And I like it. So stop reading now, unless you just wanna hear the musings of a lifetime Prince fan who finds himself jamming to supposedly “lesser” Prince like Lovesexy and Batman almost as often as the standard-approved “great” Prince albums—and who prefers his Prince in full-on 80s/Linn-drum/vocal distortion/playtime mode.

Here’s what I’m not going to write about 20TEN: I’m not going to call it the best Prince record since The Gold Experience or The Symbol Album or Lovesexy or Sign ‘O’ the Times.

I’m not going to suggest that Prince has found his form again.

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New PRINCE Album? Yeah, if you use Pounds & Euros…!

According to Rolling Stone, Prince, who was just awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from BET the other night, is prepping a “funk and new-wave heavy” new record—which will only come out in Germany. And another one—which will come out in European newspapers, a la the Planet Earth CD back in 2007. Hope these songs are better than  “Hot Summer,” the cutesy birthday track he put out a few weeks ago…click here to hear that…

Interesting news, nonetheless, and the site lists the tracks and players…click here for the story. Below, just cause I love this song, is the video for “Raspberry Beret.”

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Filed under music, Prince