Posts Tagged ‘Prince’

Every Thursday morning, while driving home, I listen to Jeremy. His show is always amazing, and he’s got a really sublime talent of making you feel as if he’s just an unassuming friend hanging in your car or living room, turning you onto great music with the Ricky Roma soft-sell.

Mr. Sole had a remarkable set yesterday morning: Prince covers and Forever in my Life (impeccable taste, that one), turning me onto Aloe Blacc’s cover of Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale, a Roots/Joanna Newsome joint (!), Nick Drake, Paul Simon’s Spirit Voices, and the song that took my head off, Back From Africa by Nickodemus.

I love, love, love this man’s radio show. Check last week’s show here.

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Apparently, this is Prince’s fight song for the Minnesota Vikings. I want it to be a joke really, really badly. I fear that it’s not. It’s got too many of his signature harmonies, hell, it sounds like Wendy and Lisa (or Jill) are singing it. Maybe it was recorded in the 80’s. It’s got that Little Girl Wendy’s Parade/Graffiti Bridge/Diamonds and Pearls/Dolphin lameness to it. And that Under a Cherry Moon vibe as well. Plus, there’s a guitar tone and riff in the back that just has to be him.

It’s sounds like he’s going for a 1920’s waltz-y fight song. I. Just. Don’t. Know.

I love Prince. But I (shudder) have to agree with Jim Rome on this: it’s brutal. And yes, Pants on the Ground yelled by Favre is better.

Come on, Prince! You wrote Purple Rain! Parade! Sign O the Times! Controversy!


I stand by my Prince and Jack White post.

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Prince, Jack White with Marshmellows

I have a friend who despises Madonna, hates her with every fiber of her being. She believes that any artistic success Madge has had is due, for the most part, to attaching herself to a successful hot producer and sucking the producer’s young artistic blood, then moving on, like a horrifying Cruella DeVille-like mosquito (to mix the hell out of a metaphor). Patrick Leonard, William Orbit, Nellee Hooper, etc, in my friend’s view, most of Madonna’s success has been linked in varying degrees of success to whomever is “hot” at the moment. And to her credit (and artistic damnation), she’s been pretty great at this sonic cannibalization.

I would contend that Madonna choosing producers that make her “come alive again” artistically is quite a self-reflective and brave talent, akin to male bands picking Rick Rubin to work with. Willfully choosing someone that challenges you is no small feat, choosing to spend time with someone who will knock you off your comfortable pedestal and keep you gloriously uncomfortable.

Which is why artists pick Rick Rubin (and maybe why Madonna should herself one day): he’s a brilliant, back-to-basics producer who somehow has figured out the formula, which seems to be:

  1. Have creatively bankrupt band and/or singer rent a house to record in.
  2. Have said band and/or singer bring already written songs and play together in a room.
  3. Mix said band and/or singer in a way that is a throwback to their original, basic sound.

Which got me thinking. Who are some artists that should be working with certain producers to really shock them into a transcendent album? I humbly submit:


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Wired has a great little article from March about Brian Eno’s art school days here. A couple of things struck me about the article:

  • The deliberate introduction of randomness in Brian Eno’s life, and the idea of changing artistic and social roles to facilitate new and interesting art. Eno’s art professors would have the students assume characters that were out of their comfort zone, to elicit reactions that were of them “playing a role.” Much like the old Oscar Wilde quote (“Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth”), if you give students a mask or role to play, they’ll create new, “true” art, that is, true to the role they’re playing.
    Reminds me of Prince and Tom Waits adopting characters to get themselves out of their rote songwriting modes. Also reminds me of long-form improv training, of getting yourself “out of your head” and comfort zone to spur yourself to new risk taking.
  • How much this pointed Eno in the direction of Oblique Strategies, which is a great tool for breaking yourself out of artistic ruts. (Great PDF of printable cards here.)

I had a great instructor in art school (“You want fries with that?”) who used to tell us, “You’re only doing your job as a creative if you are constantly on the verge of getting fired.” Which seemed imminently true to me at the time- the profs who were safe, and needed their jobs had the worst work. The ones who were devil-make-care were actually  selling work and working at ad agencies, rather than writing bullshit artspeak proposals for federal grants.

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David Wild has a space-filling little post over at Huffpo entitled “Back Off the Boss,” in which he suggests a ton of “Springsteen Bashing.”  Now, I love Bruce. LOVE him. But for David Wild to suggest people are bashing Bruce because he a. didn’t get an Oscar nomination for “The Wrestler” theme, and b. because they’re lukewarm on the new album and Magic, well, that’s just silly and wrong.


Magic is, well, just alright. “Radio Nowhere” rips pretty good. “You’ll Be Coming Down” is a great indictment to the transitory nature of youth. “Living in the future” is sloganeering, and it needs to swing (it doesn’t). I would contend that the E Street Band hasn’t really swung since “Mad Dog” Lopez left. Max is great, but there’s just something loose about those first coupla albums that I can’t put my finger on. That being said, Max’s playing on the Hammersmith Odeon Live ’75 disc is fantastic.

As for the rest, it’s a pretty spare bunch: “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” is a great “River”-era, girl-group gem that coulda been written in the 50’s; “I’ll Work For Your Love” has a great verse, boring chorus; “Devil’s Arcade” I’ll bet was a great demo, it’s a bit ponderous with the band; and of course, “Terry’s Song” is a crushingly great odeto a friend who’s passed. Can’t say enough good things about that song.


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Carl just finished a catalogue for work, I’ve been underwater working on a new project of ours, and I still await his inks for Page 2.

No worries, though, as I’m about to the post the Lamest of All Blog Entries: A list of some of My Favorite Guitar Playing.

Unlike most of the annoying “definitive” lists on the Web, this one has no illusions of completist ambitions. I didn’t consult with 20 record store hipsters. I don’t work for a music magazine. I don’t even keep up with the latest albums like I used to. And it’s only five songs.

I used to work for a record store. When “High Fidelity” was released (both the book and movie, still one of my favorite adaptations), I felt much like most metal bands probably felt when they saw “Spinal Tap”: They nailed it. The snobbery, the reverse classism, the vicious meritocracy of people who generally didn’t even play music, but consumed it like heroin. Much like the Fantasy Football geeks who are psychotic about their “teams,” it’s a culture of those who cannot do, only consume, and rank, and judge. Eunuchs in a whorehouse.

Wallflowers making fun of the way people dance.

With that in mind, a couple of songs with my favorite guitar playing:


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