Prince's Paisley Pals

by Quentin B. Huff

8 June 2009

Prince Family Reunion featuring: Dez Dickerson (Prince & the Revolution), Tyka Nelson, Michael Bland (Prince & the NPG), Sonny Thompson (Prince & the NPG), Eric Leeds ( Prince, The Family, Madhouse), Mike Scott (Prince), O’Dell (Mint Condition), Dr. Matt Fink ( Prince & the Revolution), Jerry Hubbard (The Time, Jesse Johnson Revue), Donnie La Marca (Jonny Lang), G Sharp (Jimmy Vaughn), Mark Lichtieg (Dr. Mambo’s Combo), Bill Brown ( Dr. Mambo’s Combo), Billy Franze (Dr. Mambo’s Combo), Jamie Starr (Prince) & Very Special Guests 

8. Andre Cymone: AC (1985) & 9. Vanity 6 (1982) / Apollonia 6 (1984)

From Apollonia 6 cover

From Apollonia 6 cover

8. Andre Cymone: AC (1985)
Speaking of people who hung out with Prince and should be mad as hell, let’s not forget Andre Cymone. Andre knew Prince before there ever was an Apollonia. Before there was a such thing as a New Power Generation, there was Andre. Before Prince starred in Under the Cherry Moon (and that says what?). Before Prince wore the ass-less pants. Before Prince changed his name to a symbol and then changed it back to Prince again, there was Andre, a good friend, a superb bass player, a great producer.

Andre Cymone’s AC only had one great song, which was the snapping, apocalyptic “Dance Electric”, and that one was written by Prince. He was, however, very successful as a producer, particularly for dance diva Jody “Looking for a New Love” Watley. Her “Still a Thrill” joint has got to be one of the funkiest things since George Clinton boarded the Mothership.

9. Vanity 6 (1982) / Apollonia 6 (1984)
The Apollonia 6 and Vanity 6 albums can be fun if you take them for what they are: a pretty good time with a lot of flirtation over new wave pop. Prince didn’t reinvent the wheel as far as girl groups go, but he did make good use of what was already out there.

Patricia “Apollonia” Kotero gets high marks on the recognition meter, having co-starred with Prince as his fame-seeking bombshell love interest in Purple Rain. On the album and in the film, “Sex Shooter” is completely untouchable. Wait. What? What did you say? The Pussycat Dolls? Please.

A few songs run a little long: “Blue Limousine” (I could see Rick James’s Mary Jane Girls doing this one), the somewhat pleading “A Million Miles”, and album opener “Happy Birthday, Mister Christian”, although I appreciate the wordplay of the latter when the lyrics go, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Christian / Why can’t you live up to your name?” The talk rap “Ooh She She Wa Wa” is a guilty pleasure, which I guess is the point of it all.

Vanity 6’s self-titled has essentially the same concept as Apollonia 6’s, and the same personnel (Susan Moonsie and Brenda Bennett were always the “the other two”) so I’ve bundled them together. Aside from “Nasty Girl”, a sheer classic, there’s some funny and catchy stuff in “Wet Dream”. Meanwhile “If a Girl Answers (Don’t Hang Up)” is a telephone conversational rap that could be the prequel to R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” saga. “Bite the Beat” has that staccato piano rhythm like Prince’s “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” and, most recently, “No More Candy 4 U”.

For some reason, I think it’s impressive that Vanity’s “Nasty Girl” was background music for Axl Foley (Eddie Murphy) thwarting an armed robbery in a risqué nightclub in Beverly Hills Cop. Like Apples, Vanity (Denise Matthews) earns points for starring in movies such as Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon and Action Jackson, co-starring Carl Weathers (“Apollo Creed”!).

All things considered, the contest between Apples and Vanity is too close to call. And I’d hate to see it come down to which one was the hottest (Apollonia! No…Vanity! Wait, let me see the scene where Apples jumps into the lake again!). Therefore, I call it a tie.

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