Posts tagged #Prince

The Latest: An Interview with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs

I had the great fortune to interview Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs last month for PopMatters. I don't conduct interviews very often, but as a Whigs fan since 1994, I jumped at the chance. It came a difficult time for Dulli and everyone in the Whigs/Twilight Singers extended family--it's explained in the article--so I really appreciate his time and generosity.

You can read the interview here.

You'll notice an extended discussion of Prince during which I bring up the relationship between Prince's "Housequake" beat and the Afghan Whigs' "Going to Town." Here, then, for your consideration:

This version of "Going to Town" drops in a bit of "Le Grind" from Prince's The Black Album courtesy of Shawn Smith.

Posted on August 8, 2017 and filed under News, Music Criticism.

Extended Thoughts on Prince: Never Stop Arguing

When Prince passed away on April 21, I knew that my next column at PopMatters would be about him. That column, "Prince: Never Stop Arguing," is up now. Read it before reading any of what's below.

The problem was that I didn't know what to say. For me, trying to write about Prince has been like trying to walk around an ocean. Where do you even think about beginning? I've been a Prince fan since I was thirteen and first heard Purple Rain. As a young musician I was blown away by his talent, his soul, his ambition, his dedication. I traded for bootleg tapes. When my truck was broken into one night, I was more pissed about the thief taking my Paradiso live CD than I was about the shattered window. I've been trying to write about Prince for years, either for a PopMatters column or something else; I have a few stalled essays, one dating back to the album 3121, one as recent as last year.

Posted on May 16, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

One-Song Review: "Mutiny" by Prince, Live on Arsenio

Adventures in short music criticism. One song, one performance. Studio or live, it matters not. Probably on Mondays.

If there's one thing you can count on from Prince, it's this: where there are horns, they will be arranged in a tight-ass fashion. This performance of "Mutiny," a song Prince wrote for The Family back in the 1980s and promptly played the hell out of on his Parade tour, is not about Prince. It's about the horns, from the stutter-step Big Band opening to that late-70s television theme-song melody/rhythm they pour into around :29. You expect to see Kate Jackson pointing a gun at some unseen perp. Forget the song structures, singing, guitar playing; Prince's horn arrangements alone cover about fifty years of American music. Yes, I think they're overlooked.

So is "Mutiny," but then, Prince never released his own official studio version. As incredible as the Purple Rain-to-Lovesexy run was, you could have put "Mutiny" together with the then-unreleased or B-side-only tracks "Shockadelica," "Crystal Ball," "A Love Bizarre," "Last Heart," "Sexual Suicide," "Make Your Mama Happy," "Crucial," "Witness 4 The Prosecution," "17 Days," and "She's Always in My Hair" and made another classic record.  

I have no idea what the lyrics in "Mutiny" are about except that this is another "woman, you done me wrong" song. But the song is so joyous, her crime starts a party. Look at the backup singers smile! In some Prince jams, the words are about the jam itself as it's happening, instructions for shaking one's rump mixed in with bragging, spiritual optimism, and community. (See "It's Gonna Be a Beautiful Night.") In this song, what most of the words mean on paper has almost nothing to do with what they mean when they're sung. The voices transform the words to suit the occasion, which in this case is a glad riot.

Regardless of how the words work, when Prince is in party mode, all that matters is right now: the groove and the community. Very few American pop musicians can hold an event together by themselves as the center of its attention. Prince is one of them. But in performances like this one, he lets the event take over, playing the role of ringleader and emcee, until the song itself becomes democracy, or as close as you can get to it on a television show.   

Posted on July 21, 2014 and filed under Music Criticism, One-Song Reviews.