Prince (1958-2016)

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domino harvey
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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#126 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:44 pm


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Helene Smith

#127 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:02 pm

Was listening to some classic soul, and thought Helene Smith's You Got To Be a Man might have served as a template/inspiration for Prince's hit Kiss. It has the repeated "You Don't Have To Be ..." line -- including "You Don't Have To be Rich" -- as well as James Brown-style horns punctuating each line. Plus one excited high-pitched vocal swoop mid-song (around the 1:40 mark).

Helene Smith was a Miami soul singer. You Got To Be a Man was released in 1968, and can be found on Helene Smith comps or the soul compilation I'm a Good Woman, Vol. 1. It's a pretty terrific song, and in my opinion Prince knew it and significantly reworked it for his hit.
Be interested to hear if others agree.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#128 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Jun 05, 2016 1:18 pm

Very possible, Prince has done that before and it's a common trait of any recording artist that happens to be a lifelong student of music as well. Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen come to mind as they've been very vocal about what music has inspired them, and so many of their most acclaimed records are loaded with quotes and references.

FWIW, the best track on Prince's last album, "Black Muse," basically reworks the melody on the Phil Spector produced Sonny Charles single "Black Pearl."

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Prince (1958-2016)

#129 Post by zedz » Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:48 pm

Lemmy Caution wrote:Was listening to some classic soul, and thought Helene Smith's You Got To Be a Man might have served as a template/inspiration for Prince's hit Kiss. It has the repeated "You Don't Have To Be ..." line -- including "You Don't Have To be Rich" -- as well as James Brown-style horns punctuating each line. Plus one excited high-pitched vocal swoop mid-song (around the 1:40 mark).

Helene Smith was a Miami soul singer. You Got To Be a Man was released in 1968, and can be found on Helene Smith comps or the soul compilation I'm a Good Woman, Vol. 1. It's a pretty terrific song, and in my opinion Prince knew it and significantly reworked it for his hit.
Be interested to hear if others agree.
i don't know that track, but Helene Smith is indeed the real deal.

Apparently 'Kiss' was originally a low-key acoustic number. Prince donated it to the band Mazarati, who rearranged it so radically and convincingly that Prince took the recording back and stripped their vocals from it, then gave it all an even more extreme makeover (removing the bass, adding the brilliant itch-scratching guitar track). He gave Mazarati the track '100 MPH' as a consolation prize.

So, Helene Smith or no, the song had a convoluted evolution with plenty of opportunities for outside influence to creep in - though it still sounded like nothing else in 1986.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#130 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 5:38 am

Today would have been his 58th birthday

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#131 Post by ando » Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:00 pm

Image

Yeah, rock the heavens, Mr. Nelson.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#132 Post by FrauBlucher » Sun Jun 19, 2016 6:32 pm


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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#133 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:10 pm

Hopefully his stuff will make it to the streaming platforms then too. I admittedly drop his name way too much here, but I read an interview with Steven Wilson, who just licensed all of his solo work to them, talking about what prompted his move towards that despite his less-than-positive feelings about those formats in general
Was there a tipping point that made you decide to stream your music?

I’ll tell you what really brought it home to me. When Prince passed away, I was in Vienna that night with my band. We heard he died about a half hour before we went on stage. I was very affected by that, because Prince for most of the ’80s was my number one musical hero. I still maintain he was the most naturally talented individual artist the pop music world has ever produced. That night, I tried to do a little bit of a tribute to Prince. I remember introducing the song and it became obvious to me that about 50% of the audience didn’t really know who Prince was, maybe they heard the name and a couple of hits, but that was about it. I asked myself how could that be?

Well, for most of the last 20 years of his life, Prince went out of his way to have his music removed from YouTube and streaming services. I think that affected his mainstream profile. That’s why a lot of young people didn’t really know too much about who Prince was. If you hadn’t seen a Prince show there wasn’t really any way to see footage of Prince live outside of purchasing a DVD. Most of his videos were removed from YouTube and other video services. Most of his music was unavailable. But as soon as he died, there was a massive surge of people uploading all this incredible material like live shows and live videos. Like many people, I spent a lot of time in the following weeks watching all the stuff. I was blown away by the talent of this guy. But I thought to myself, “If you weren’t someone who was aware of Prince at his peak in the ’80s and early ’90s, then maybe you would be unaware of this musical genius.” Being available on the streaming services is a way to expand your audience and expand awareness of what you do. Conversely, to be absent from them is almost to write yourself out of history.
For some context, his cover of Sign O' The Times.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#134 Post by whaleallright » Mon Jun 20, 2016 2:41 pm

FWIW I teach 18- and 19-year-olds and almost all of them knew who Prince was and could hum several of his songs. (Despite the fact that all of them listen to music primarily via streaming platforms.) So, that's some anecdotal evidence that runs contrary to Wilson's story.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#135 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:16 pm

Would "Sign O' The Times" be one of those songs? That's not one I've ever really heard on the radio or seen on MTV/VH1 apart from clips. I think that could have something to do with it, or it's a case of Wilson over-estimating his audience's diverse musical tastes. That night anyway. I would think if he'd been playing for an American audience that night, it could have been a different story.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#136 Post by ando » Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:54 pm

whaleallright wrote:FWIW I teach 18- and 19-year-olds and almost all of them knew who Prince was and could hum several of his songs.
I'm curious, whaleallright, where you do you teach? I work with late teens/twentysomethings here in NYC everyday, most of whom were only slightly aquainted with Prince's music when I queried them at the time of his passing. And these are kids who claim to be hep when it comes to contemporary pop. Some are even musicians! Most disappointing, but completely typical of a particular generation's (in this age range) response/regard for artists of an earlier era, imo.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#137 Post by Noiradelic » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:13 pm

flyonthewall2983 wrote:Would "Sign O' The Times" be one of those songs? That's not one I've ever really heard on the radio or seen on MTV/VH1 apart from clips. I think that could have something to do with it,
"Sign O' The Times" actually did hit #3 on the pop charts, but it seems like his singles didn't quite have the same cultural penetration after "Kiss" in 1986. "You Got the Look" was the biggest hit from Sign O' The Times -- my least favorite song on the whole album. Yeah, the song "Sign O' The Times" is great -- yet another slightly different sound for Prince. Don't remember the video for it -- definitely was not in big rotation on MTV/VH1 in the 90s.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#138 Post by whaleallright » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:22 pm

completely typical of a particular generation's (in this age range) response/regard for artists of an earlier era, imo.
To be honest, this reads to me like a "kids these days!" complaint. Every generation seems to think that younger folks don't have sufficient knowledge of or respect for the culture that preceded them. I don't see any evidence (anecdotal or aggregated) that the situation today is any "worse" (presuming that this is even a problem) than it was in the 1990s, 1960s, or 1920s.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#139 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:35 pm

Noiradelic wrote:
flyonthewall2983 wrote:Would "Sign O' The Times" be one of those songs? That's not one I've ever really heard on the radio or seen on MTV/VH1 apart from clips. I think that could have something to do with it,
"Sign O' The Times" actually did hit #3 on the pop charts, but it seems like his singles didn't quite have the same cultural penetration after "Kiss" in 1986. "You Got the Look" was the biggest hit from Sign O' The Times -- my least favorite song on the whole album. Yeah, the song "Sign O' The Times" is great -- yet another slightly different sound for Prince. Don't remember the video for it -- definitely was not in big rotation on MTV/VH1 in the 90s.
It's interesting how pop culture experiences change from community to community and country to country. In New Zealand the iconic video for 'Sign O' the Times' was played repeatedly on all the music shows, and was a "hey, did you see that?" phenomenon. The video is simply the song's lyrics, animated in an early CGI meets Sesame Street fashion - nothing else. Nowadays it resembles a mid-90s screen saver, but nobody had seen anything like that as a music video in 1987. (R.E.M. had kind of anticipated the idea with the video for 'Fall on Me' the year before, but that video includes photographic imagery.)

Also, the received notion that 'U Got the Look' was the big hit from that album and 'Sign O' the Times' was comparatively obscure doesn't seem to be born out by the evidence. 'Sign O' the Times' hit number 3 on the Hot 100; 'U Got the Look' only made it one place higher. But 'Sign O' the Times' was number one on the R&B charts, while 'U Got the Look' didn't crack the R&B top ten. Given that the Hot 100 didn't directly reflect sales at the time, and songs with stronger white radio airplay got an artificial leg up, it's likely that 'Sign O' the Times' was the bigger seller over all. And the USA is indeed the only country where 'U Got the Look' charted higher than 'Sign O' the Times'.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#140 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:39 pm

whaleallright wrote:To be honest, this reads to me like a "kids these days!" complaint. Every generation seems to think that younger folks don't have sufficient knowledge of or respect for the culture that preceded them. I don't see any evidence (anecdotal or aggregated) that the situation today is any "worse" (presuming that this is even a problem) than it was in the 1990s, 1960s, or 1920s.
I have to confess that I wasn't listening to much 1950s rock and roll when I was a teenager in the 1980s, and I probably couldn't have named five Patti Page hits.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#141 Post by ando » Tue Jun 21, 2016 11:10 pm

whaleallright wrote:
completely typical of a particular generation's (in this age range) response/regard for artists of an earlier era, imo.
To be honest, this reads to me like a "kids these days!" complaint. Every generation seems to think that younger folks don't have sufficient knowledge of or respect for the culture that preceded them. I don't see any evidence (anecdotal or aggregated) that the situation today is any "worse" (presuming that this is even a problem) than it was in the 1990s, 1960s, or 1920s.
Errr, that was just my point at the end of the "complaint". To wit:
ando wrote:And these are kids who claim to be hep when it comes to contemporary pop. Some are even musicians! Most disappointing, but completely typical of a particular generation's (in this age range) response/regard for artists of an earlier era, imo.
Still, any kid who loves music -particularly pop music - will find even Prince of 30 years ago hard to avoid.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#142 Post by Noiradelic » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:02 am

zedz wrote:Also, the received notion that 'U Got the Look' was the big hit from that album and 'Sign O' the Times' was comparatively obscure doesn't seem to be born out by the evidence.
When you say "received notion," hope you're not solely referring to me because "was comparatively obscure" is stronger than I put it. It might've partly been the phenomenon of my wanting to hear "Sign O' The Times" on the radio more and "I Got the Look" less, and so magnifying the difference. But my point was that none of his singles after "Kiss" had quite the same cultural impact in the U.S. If you didn't buy Prince's albums and didn't play the radio that much, I could see how someone could've heard the Purple Rain singles ad nauseam, but not have heard "SOTT."
zedz wrote:It's interesting how pop culture experiences change from community to community and country to country. In New Zealand the iconic video for 'Sign O' the Times' was played repeatedly on all the music shows, and was a "hey, did you see that?" phenomenon. The video is simply the song's lyrics, animated in an early CGI meets Sesame Street fashion - nothing else.
I don't remember that video! Didn't get cable till '92 -- "Kiss" and other artists' iconic 80s music videos were still in regular rotation, but I either missed it or only saw it once or twice.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#143 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:36 am

I hate to say this, but "Batdance" may have been his biggest in terms of impact in the years after Purple Rain, only because it was part of the Batmania behemoth that swept the U.S.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#144 Post by zedz » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:37 am

Noiradelic wrote:
zedz wrote:Also, the received notion that 'U Got the Look' was the big hit from that album and 'Sign O' the Times' was comparatively obscure doesn't seem to be born out by the evidence.
When you say "received notion," hope you're not solely referring to me because "was comparatively obscure" is stronger than I put it. It might've partly been the phenomenon of my wanting to hear "Sign O' The Times" on the radio more and "I Got the Look" less, and so magnifying the difference. But my point was that none of his singles after "Kiss" had quite the same cultural impact in the U.S. If you didn't buy Prince's albums and didn't play the radio that much, I could see how someone could've heard the Purple Rain singles ad nauseam, but not have heard "SOTT."
No, this wasn't addressed specifically at you: I've heard this a lot in the past couple of months - specifically that the Sign O' the Times album didn't fare as well as it could have sales-wise because of the 'un-commercial' choice of the first two singles, and that 'U Got the Look' should have been the lead single because it was much more commercial. This does seem to be a prevalent (and specifically American) point of view, and I suspect it has something to do with the rigid radio formats in the US. Some stations had to be playing the hell out of the single for it to top the R&B chart.

I just feel this view needs to be questioned because:
a) 'Sign O' the Times' was an enormous hit by any measure, in the USA and everywhere;
b) his form in the mid-80s was to release a surprisingly uncharacteristic (and often minimalist) lead single off each new album - 'When Doves Cry', 'Raspberry Beret', 'Kiss' - not to repeat his established sound, and this commercial gamble paid off repeatedly;
b) there's no indication that massive commercial success above all else was ever Prince's priority at this stage of his career: every album release from Around the World in a Day through Lovesexy represented a sharp stylistic left turn (arguably with the exception of Sign O' the Times, the diversity of which should at least have been unsurprising by 1987).

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Prince (1958-2016)

#145 Post by Highway 61 » Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:30 am

Just to add my two cents to the "kids these days" conversation: I'm too young to have experienced Prince's heyday, but old enough to have respected Prince as a giant of popular music. When I tried to get into his back catalogue during the time of his Musicology comeback, what discouraged me was the terrible-sounding CDs and the lack of availability of albums like The Gold Experience. I think this was a common experience since many of my music nerd friends of the same age had the tinny CD of Purple Rain and little else.

Also it's important to remember that the media turned Prince into a punchline for at least a decade. Until the outpouring of love and respect he received when he died a lot of younger people probably only knew of Prince as the guy who changed his name to a symbol. Or, I hate to say it, from the Kevin Smith story.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#146 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:02 am

This is spot on. By the time I got into Prince, he was long gone from Warner Bros. but I became a huge fan anyway. It wasn't just Prince, I was really diving into popular music in general, so when he became one of my favorites, it was partly in awe of his tremendous accomplishments - going back 40 years, you'd be hard pressed to find a single recording artist, let alone a single person, who not only created as much music of such high caliber, but did it with the same level of innovation and having the same wide ranging influence as Prince. You could count them on one hand and still have leftover fingers.

So when Prince played the Super Bowl, I was with a large group of people who weren't exactly music aficionados. (In all honesty, I couldn't care less about football - the Super Bowl was just an occasional social gathering I'd go to while in school.) Nobody, NOBODY there thought Prince was a big deal. The best compliment anyone would give him was that "he's a really good guitar player, I'll give him that - I've seen him play on TV." That was it. They didn't know his music or really music period - they could play a string of Top 100 hits all that would be inconceivable without Prince's influence, and they wouldn't be able to see it because they didn't know his music or his place in pop music at all. I hope they took a good look at those obits and wised up, but more likely they're still stuck listening to the same albums from 2007 and complaining about anything that wasn't from their own youth.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#147 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu Jun 23, 2016 2:49 pm

Was he much of a blues guy at all? I know he worshipped Santana and Hendrix (he even did a cover of "Red House", which he repurposed to his favorite color) who were more blues-rock, but I mean the more pure stuff.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#148 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:14 pm

He really liked Bonnie Raitt and tried to sign her to Paisley Park (before she went to Capitol and grew into a platinum-selling superstar). Her early stuff is much more rooted in blues and traditional R&B, especially her best work on WB.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#149 Post by FrauBlucher » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:31 pm

hearthesilence wrote:He really liked Bonnie Raitt and tried to sign her to Paisley Park (before she went to Capitol and grew into a platinum-selling superstar). Her early stuff is much more rooted in blues and traditional R&B, especially her best work on WB.
They definitely spent time together.

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Re: Prince (1958-2016)

#150 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:10 pm

Would love to hear those sessions - here's what Danny Goldberg said about them:
It was a well-intentioned idea that didn't work. It didn't sound like Bonnie Raitt. It sounded too much like Prince and not enough like Bonnie Raitt. It was too generically Prince and not authentically enough something that would work with Bonnie's voice. It wasn't bad, but it was inconsistent with her natural persona. It was an incredible close call because he was so big and she was struggling to get a deal. It was exciting that he was acknowledging her, and it was a door-opener, in theory. But at the end of the day, just 'cause something looks good on paper, if it doesn't work artistically, it just doesn't work, and it didn't.
What did he expect? Even "Manic Monday" sounds like a Prince record with the Bangles swapped in for the lead vocal. (Drop it in a playlist next to everything else he did in 1985 and 1986 - fits in pretty well.) Commercially his concerns are valid - if he's trying to revive a flagging career, it would have backfired - but hell, I'd dig a Prince record with Bonnie on vocals and guitar.

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