Despite a biopsy scheduled for Friday and my UI having run out, my week is going swimmingly.
It's not every day a 57 year old white guy gets to claim he has a new album out that features young Prince, Alexander O Neal, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Rockie Robbins, Sueann Carwell and Andre Cymone.
The reviews are in and the record is being streamed and is for sale starting today.
But as the album notes put it, that sound “was not entirely the invention of the prince who became the city’s most famous citizen; it was instead a perfect storm of individuals and influences.”The album is 32 songs featuring lots of my friends, band mates and competitors from the 70s and 80s in Minneapolis. Oh, and I play on three of the tracks and members of my bands play on over a dozen.
Some of those are well-known, like Jimmy Jam Harris and Terry Lewis, represented here with their groups Flyte Time and Mind & Matter. Prince is here, too, as the precocious autodidact playing with 94 East, the Lewis Connection and the Family (on a track credited to "Music, Love & Funk" that features his future NPG bassist Sonny Thompson).
Others, like Alexander O’Neal, Rockie Robbins and Sue Ann Carwell, found at least brief moments in the spotlight. And then there are groups like Haze, Cohesion, Prophets of Peace and Aura, which are distant memories at best. No matter, they’re all sharing the same stage again.
Many of my closest friends and featured musicians on this record have already passed away. I received my copy last Wednesday and have been too emotional to speak on the topic til today.
This record and its attending hardcover book tells the story of how Prince was one of many black artists struggling against the institutional racism of the Twin Cities that forced people to "go national" because you could not earn a living locally. We helped each other (Prince plays guitar with several of the featured bands, and I never charged a penny to artists either) and competed, trash talked and collaborated. The horn section gave way to synthesizers, and slick soul gave way to funk rock. You can actually hear how we influenced each other, and being a small community we all knew each other well.
Morris Day, a drummer then, used to walk back and forth across the street to practice with us and another band. Prince used to play cards with Alexander and Sueann upstairs while we wrote songs. Some of the shit we said ended up on Prince and The Time records as an homage to our unique way of communicating. Our band discovered Jesse Johnson on the road in Rock Island, and eventually he came to live here and play with the band across the street. Of course, we traded members anyway.
I have a lot of these stories, but the album itself tells it better.