Music

Prince's Paisley Pals

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

Minneapolis, Minnesota was the center of Prince's musical kingdom, but there were a lot of musicians associated with his purple music. Here's a short list, with a few ground rules.

In March 2009, Prince launched his new website in conjunction with a limited release 3CD set. The physical package bundled two new Prince Cds, LotusFlow3r and MPLSound, along with a third CD (Elixer), by protégée Bria Valente. I thought, "It's been a long time since Prince went the mentor route." There was a glimpse of it in 2006 with Tamar, but it was short lived.

This prompted me to compile a list of albums by Prince Associates. Here were the ground rules.

First, albums that were clearly "Prince side projects" were excluded. Albums by the N.P.G. and the jazz fusion ensemble Madhouse wouldn't work, although I think there might be a case to be made for the first N.P.G. record. But -- oh, well.

Second, the albums had to be from artists who weren't famous independently of Prince. So, take the Prince-produced Chaka Khan album Come 2 My House. That album's not going to fly on this list because Chaka Khan was already a megastar before she got into the studio with Prince. Actually, she was already a big deal when she remade Prince's "I Feel for You" in the '80s. The idea is that the artists in this lists are known because of their association with Prince. This put me in a tough spot with one artist that I did include (you'll see), as well as a band I didn't include (The Bangles, since they scored a hit with Prince's "Manic Monday"). I concluded that having a song written for you by Prince wasn't enough. You have to be purified in the waters of Lake Menatanka, or at least know what that means.

Third, the accomplishments of the artist could sway the position of the album on the overall list. That is, the artist's album might not be all that great, but the impact of the album, or a song on the album, could make the whole thing noteworthy.

Here we go:

1. The Time: Ice Cream Castle (1984)

The top honor in the pantheon of Prince associates goes to The Time. Their lineup was action packed with freakishly funky musicians: Morris Day, Jellybean Johnson, Monte Moir, Jesse Johnson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and Jerome Benton. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis ended up leaving the group, although you'll hear the people who aren't obsessed with Prince saying they "got fired" on Prince's recommendation. Mark Cardenas, St. Paul Peterson, and Jerry Hubbard joined later. With and without Jam and Lewis, The Time remains the funkiest and tightest of the purple bunch, and nothing showcases this better than Ice Cream Castle.

Ice Cream Castle is to The Time what Purple Rain is to Prince: a streamlined, consciously commercial version of the band's Minneapolis flow. It seems calculated to fit the themes of the Purple Rain movie, where The Time's all-the-way-bold attitude and slick presentation would contrast the Revolution's icier slice of Baroque pop. The Time dressed in suits and acted like "playas". The Revolution dressed like extras from the movie Amadeus and acted the way "serious musicians" are supposed to. The song "Chili Sauce", a conversation between Morris and his love interest, echoes the scene in Purple Rain when Morris is doing his best to impress the lovely Apollonia.

In the film, Morris's version of himself is loud, boisterous, and ambitious, although he does have a compassionate side, compared to Prince's quiet, brooding, and pouting character known simply as "Kid". Morris is a playboy, a cad, and sometimes a clown -- a true foil to the Kid's maelstrom of possessiveness, seclusion, and violence at the hands of a tormented father. Onstage and in the film, Jerome Benton plays the foil to the foil (Morris), a sidekick and companion, happy to dance, do background vocals, and fetch mirrors so Morris can check himself out and what not.

Prince's music with Revolution ain't really that funky. Sorry. It's really damn good, yes, but not as funk-filled as The Time's output. Before Ice Cream Castle, the band's debut gave us powerhouse jams like "Get It Up", "Cool", and "The Stick". The follow-up, What Time Is It?, featured "777-9311" and "The Walk". Ice Cream Castle didn't stretch the jams out as long as "Cool" or "The Walk". Its longest jam is the "brand new dance" song called "The Bird" (seven minutes, 40 seconds). Also, unlike the Time's first two efforts, Ice Cream Castle hasn't been reduced to a Prince (under the moniker "Jamie Starr") production, with The Time mouthing his words and playing his chords. The Time had more input on this record.

As fun and carefree as The Time can be, there's no denying the title track's depth and potent imagery ("We're all ice cream castles in the summer time") in its take on interracial romance and the fleeting nature of life as a whole. The Time also specializes in the risqué ("My Drawers", "If the Kid Can't Make You Come").

Although Prince has shown his sense of humor, the dude can be a bit dramatic and intense. Grab Ice Cream Castle for relief. Since their last album, 1990's Pandemonium there's been talk to a reunion. We'll see about that.

Next Page

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image