It’s been a few days since the announcement of Prince‘s departure. So, to pay our own personal tribute, we archived an old article written back in 2013. Rest in Purple, Prince.
It’s become a tangent for Prince to be related to pop and cheese… A common misconception for the inexperienced ears. He may have appeared to have been the pinnacle of pop with his jerry curl, sparkly suits and erotic lyrics all melting together delightfully with a distinctive, catchy beat… But the truth behind the tuxedo was quite the opposite. Prince was Rock and Roll, without question.
Behind the Glitz and Glam was a dirty rawness, a certain je nous se qua that grew callouses on his fingers and hairs on the back of our necks. People tend to forget the talent this man possessed. (RE: this has been SUDDENLY re-awoken since his passing. New fans being born since his death.)
By the young age of 21, Prince was signed with Warner Bros Records, and for his next 5 albums, played almost every instrument on each of them; not a common occurrence now days with artists that can hardly hold their microphones correctly.
Anyone who’s seen any live footage of Prince in concert or even a music video of his, will become accustom to his dazzling dance moves… Something he had in common with his equally famous rival, Michael Jackson. Yes Jackson had the technicality down, but there was a provocative vibe about Prince, something that few people could portray when wearing 4 inch heels. His vocal range was untouchable, along with his stand-out fashion sense… 17th century Georgian meets Arabian Prince, it wasn’t every day you saw a man in a purple velvet suit prancing around a stage, beautifully all said and done.
Another highly dismissed factor to Prince‘s rock and roll status was his plucking and shredding abilities. At first Prince‘s style was immediately related to the likes of Jimi Hendrix, but upon further analysis, there’s a clear blues rock, related to the likes of Santana… dare we say a James Brown influence knitted in with his finger tips, he told Rolling Stone Magazine himself: ‘Hendrix played more blues, Santana played prettier’, and pretty that boy played.
His style was undefinable… The amount of genres Prince plunged into, uncountable. First starting with a simple 70’s disco sound with his first album For you, back in 78, though that album and his next self entitled album in 79 were publicly popular, it wasn’t the funky disco pop that put Prince in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
The first song that defined Prince as the unpredictable artist he remains to be today was Controversy, a song and album he didn’t release until 81… The record incorporated his flawlessly toned voice and erotic lyrics (something he picked up in his last 1980 album, appropriately entitled Dirty Mind). It was funky, and, new… though the Rock and Roll element still wasn’t quite set in stone, developing however? No doubt. I don’t need to tell you where it made it’s grand entrance…
Purple Rain. What an album! What a film too! Actually, the film wasn’t great – egotistical, cheesy and self-obsessed, but somehow still brilliant. He wasn’t an actor. But a performer, oh yes. That speaks through the screen and made it a guilty pleasure, shall we say? Don’t watch it for the plot, watch it for the performances.
It sky-rocked Prince to the top of the stairs. The beauty of the album is it didn’t stay to the same sound. Even if you hadn’t seen the film, the album itself told the story wonderfully, each track bringing a different mood and genre of music to the table. From the classic pop hits such as Let’s go crazy, or I would die 4 U, moving into the dirty, dingy realms of rock with songs such as Darlin’ Nikki, or When the Doves Cry and who could forget the song that will always been hummed at the mere mention of the Minneapolis star, the self entitled masterpiece, Purple Rain.
Arguably his best song. We’ve listened to it how many times? Yet, still get goosebumps at the first sound of the classic lone guitar.
Purple Rain was the top of the mountain for his career. It all became wobbly from there. The posh, polished look was ditched after his critically acclaimed 87′ album Sign O’ the Times, the curls were straightened and the Rock was moulded slowly into a more R&B toned sound, still with a Nile Rodgers style lingering in the background. The future albums were all lined with political lyrics, outlandish publicity stunts and cries for attention. Funky though.
In the 90’s if Prince was mentioned, it wasn’t for the music but for the mask. He become obsessed with law suits, copyright battles and pushing his binding contract with Warner Bros’ out into the news. So much so that he began appearing in public with the word ‘Slave’ drawn on his cheek… To
top it off, he eventually changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. Even his die hard fans were beginning to question where their loyalties laid.
Prince stuck with the psychedelia pop / soul genre for a while, and ended with the same sound. Admittedly, it was good. Everything Prince touches turns into something sellable. But one thing Prince could never disappoint anyone with, was his live performances.
His tours have and
will did always sell out. This is a man who never dreamt of lip syncing, will be dancing until his limbs fall off and did tell Kim Kardashian to get off his stage rudely when she refused to dance… Oh, Prince, we applaud you.
(This part has been revised – as, when written was to coincide with his new album)
Prince has released 4 albums in the past 4 years , and he’s signed to Warner Brothers again after 18 years of separation, despite his ‘slave’ times, and constrictive contract in the past. Perhaps they released the rope a tad and apologised, or perhaps Prince ran out of his millions? Who knows, they seemed to have a good relationship.
We’ll keep this next part in just for old times…
We still haven’t given up hope of Rock and Roll’s finest prostitute making a re-appearance. We saw him recently performing While my guitar gently weeps, with the likes of Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne for the late George Harrison. All eyes and ears were on one short man in the right hand corner, and not a jaw was in place. Let’s just HOPE that Prince will make a re-appearance on his up-coming album, or perhaps The Revolution will join forces with our favourite Minneapolis male… One can hope!
So, Prince did continue to make albums, tour and bring us all along with him on his great joyride right until the day he died.
Prince wasn’t just Rock and Roll. He was music. Very clearly and outspokenly, he proved that he lived, breathed and produced only the finest. He will be missed, but will continue to live through those he influenced and touched, isn’t that all of us?
Thanks, Prince. For not selling out. Staying true to what music SHOULD be. And, being one hell of a musician.
My own personal thoughts on Prince have been said in a blog post written by myself in January this year- Note about half way down, my reaction the first time I heard Purple Rain. Read it HERE.