First Ave 1982 Revisited

Recently Mace2theO commented that this bootleg from 1982 was the equivalent to his first girlfriend. We all have a similar first girlfriend experience – she may have had braces and carried some puppy fat, but she will always be special by the fact she was the first and painted in nostalgic hues forever more because of this. It was our first proper relationship, and doomed to a crushing teenage ending, but always conjures up warm memories that do not fade as time passes.

I’m sorry Mace2theO, but  in this case your first girlfriend got around a bit. Not only was she your first girlfriend, she was my first girlfriend too. Mace2theO acquired this concert on cassette (and all the nostalgic currency that that carries), while for me I found this bootleg on CD hidden away at the back of the record store. It was far from perfect in sound quality but I can assure you that when I took a listen it shook me to my core, and the fact that 35 years on I am blogging about Prince bootlegs demonstrates how much of an influence it had over the rest of my life. Like that first girlfriend, it was a formative experience. I didn’t quite know what I was doing and I have had better relationships since, but retains a special place in my heart.

A couple of weeks ago the soundboard recording of this show became widely available. It’s not always comfortable when we meet ex-girlfriends later in life, a messy divorce behind them, a couple of kids under their arm, and the first signs of a drinking problem hiding behind their forced smile, but in this case my first girlfriend has grown up into somebody I want to spend a lot of time with. The roughness of the audience recording is gone, replaced with a shiny soundboard, all slender legs, short skirts and long luxurious hair. Oh yes, my first girlfriend is now the hottest chick on the block. She is has grown up in every way, while retaining all the charms that I first fell in love with all those years ago. I may have talked about this first girlfriend before, but now she is in full bloom and stirring up those old feelings in me. It’s not very often that I spend time with ex-girlfriends, but in this case I am going to roll back the clock and wine and dine this girl one more time.

So with my first bootleg love rekindled, lets douse ourselves in cheap cologne, grease up the hair, and head straight to the heart of 1982.

(all photos by Mike Reiter)

8th March 1982, First Avenue, Minneapolis

There is a heat between the thighs from the opening minute, a few quick words by Prince and then a rage of guitar pulled down by Dez. With a punk rock assault Prince and the band hang it all out in these first minutes with both power and panache. In a frenzy of guitar scuzz “Bambi” storms into the room. It’s a wild eyed performance that bounces of the walls in a maelstrom of fuzzed up guitar and shrieked lyrics, capturing the listeners attention from the start. It is much cleaner than the previous audience recording, and the soundboard brings the musicianship to the the fore while retaining the fierce sound of the more familiar recording. That first girlfriend has cleaned up her defiant punk-rock hair style, but still has a fiery intent in her eyes that hints at an underlying violence that could bubble over at any second.

“All The Critics Love U In New York” is the most Princely sui genius song of the evening, and clearly maps out the territory that he will roam in the next few years. It wears its uniqueness proudly, face melting guitar work grafted to the undeniable beat that appeals to both my gut and my feet. I am never quite sure if I should be dancing or punching the air, the music insisting that I move my body in any way possible as Prince gives us perhaps the greatest performance of this song ever recorded. The keyboard solo gains on this pristine recording, Fink’s solo standing out among the more forceful blazing guitar and holding his own calm centre at the eye of the storm. For a minute we are in another world, before the hurricane of guitar solos return and swallow up the all the sound.

There is a glimpse of the first girlfriend I used to know in the opening of “When You Were Mine,” both the title and the sound taking me back to youthful summers that were equally long and lost. It is easy to project these feelings back on a song that has been with us so long, but even at this show it has a nostalgic feel – although it was only recorded just two years previous. This is the most comfortable song of the concert, and captures the exact feelings that I first had when I heard it all those years ago.

There is a world of difference between the audience recording and this soundboard recording when it comes to “Sexy Dancer.” A far more nuanced performance emerges on this recording, and whereas before it was strident and bold, here it becomes much more of a sassy walk rather than a march into battle. Both the bass and the keyboard via for attention, each adding to a show that I am already eminently familiar with. While the bass remains holding the song together, Dr Fink spins off into an intergalactic sound with his keyboards, making me draw a sharp breath in the thrill of it all. It is Dez who gets to put an end to these flights of fancy, his solo serving as an exclamation mark on all that has come before.

Things slow, sex and lust temporarily forgotten as Prince dips into a song of love and yearning with “Still Waiting.” Prince is on lead vocals, but it is Sue Ann Carwell who is the star attraction with her contribution. At almost ten minutes long there is plenty of time for the candles of love to flicker and flame, and musically one can hear the lights being turned down as the song slows to a velvety and warm breakdown. In this circumstance it is grating to hear Prince saying “I got cause to celebrate, because my girlfriend died” but as Brown Marks bass rises up from this crushed velvet sea all is forgiven, and I am again transported away on the winds of Sue Ann Carwell’s voice.

The recording slaps me in the face and snaps me out of this reverie with a furious “Head.” On the previous recording it was nasty and slutty, on this recording it is far more sexy and erotic. While the audience recording sounded like a blowjob in the Walmart carpark, this one speaks in the language of fellatio and sex on the hood of a Porsche at a Beverly Hills party. The outcome is still the same, but it doesn’t threaten to be as dangerous, and despite some superlative bass work I am comfortable that when it is all over I won’t be visiting the clinic in the morning.

If there is a moment that demonstrates how much better this new recording is, it is the final minute of the “Head” when we can hear Prince preparing the band for “Sexuality.” We have heard his yell into the microphone before, but this time we can hear him say it a couple of times earlier to the audience. It’s not a big thing, but it does show just how good the sound is. “Sexuality” is relatively short, most of the song is given over to the audience sing-a-long that dominates. It does lose some of it’s impact on this soundboard recording, the audience recording obviously doing a far better job of capturing this moment with the audience. This is crying out for someone to combine the two recordings in a matrix mix that would better give us that electrifying live sound that makes this recording so vital.

Prince’s brief speech introducing The Time has been often discussed, and for good reason. His easy banter with Morris is refreshing, and its hilarious to hear him and Morris go back and forth, trading lines and barbs that belie the darker waters that swirl just under the surface. “Dance To The Beat” maintains this veneer of lightheartedness, and provides a pop twist to a show that has been thus far guitar heavy and drenched in intensity. There is a lift in the atmosphere and the recording shines bright for these minutes.

Prince continues to fire broadsides at the band between songs, this time with the comment “I didn’t like that, play something you know how to play.” The response from The Time is a taunt version of “The Stick” that would satisfy the most demanding of audiences. As much as I like The Time and this song, it does feel as if they have gate-crashed the date, and there is an awkward third wheel experience to hearing them on the bootleg. The real draw card though isn’t the music itself though, rather their dynamic tension with Prince, a tension that fuels his music and will provide some of his most dramatic work in the following years.

“Partyup” fuses these two elements together in a climatic finish that delivers all it promises. The opening talk between Prince and Morris sets the scene, the back and forth continues between them continues as Morris takes his place at the drum kit for this final stomp. Prince and his guitar lead from the front, but most fans will be focused on Morris and his drumming. He lives up to expectations, and the foreplay of the opening talk is forgotten as the the song becomes further arousing. Morris’s drum solo almost brings us to orgasm, but Prince pulls him back just in time with some great bass work from Brown Mark. The final climax comes with an inflamed guitar solo from Prince,but as with the audience recording there is coitus interruptus as the tape fades out, the rest of solo never realized and leaving us to only wonder what might  have been.

I have loved this concert for as long I can remember. I have grown older, but it has remained forever young, even with the imperfections of the long circulating audience recording. With this soundboard recording we have a chance to revisit our youth, and a chance to reconnect with that elusive first girlfriend. I have mixed feelings as I know that the first girlfriend is forever gone and never again will I listen to the audience recording. This new recording has created new memories and sparked a new love. It is time to move on and file the audience recording in my box of faded photos, yellowed love letters and yesterdays glories. I am firmly looking forward as with this soundboard recording I feel reinvigorated, my love burning with a new intensity. I have made up my mind, this is the recording that I want to spend the rest of my life with.

-Hamish

Bonus material:

Mace2theO messaged me this quickfire review when I told him I was covering this bootleg. It’s not written with public consumption in mind, but he has agreed that I could share it with you. I am in full agreement with everything he has written here, and he is far more succinct than me!

Re 82 – reasons the show is important to me, rediscovered with the SBDs

The First Ave show came the night after the main show at the Met Centre so going back to a small club, it has the feel of an aftershow. It is the first Revolution in all its glory, with Dez as a proper Keith Richards lead as the Black Rolling Stones, all pre-Purple Rain. Starting with a raw punk version of Bambi, it then goes into a monster version of All the Critics. While “Let ’em out of his cage” is great, my favourite is before Doc’s solo when Prince and Dez start soloing and Prince yell’s “Wait a minute, Dez” before ripping off a monster solo.

Sometimes audiences make the boot and I had been living with crowd singing at the end of Sexuality for so many years, it took me a minute to adjust to the soundboard. Same with All The Critics – without that kickdrum in your face, the SBD didn’t feel the power of the earlier version…although it sounds much better.

Most important – this is really the closest we will ever get the inspiration for the Purple Rain battle. Before all the controlling issues that came along in 83-84, you can feel the real affection between Morris and Prince (“We used to be friends”) – as trivia, it has the only time in bootleg history where someone gives Prince shit “You wanna borrow my comb?” Also history, as only time live Prince with Morris on drums.

I have fallen in love with my first girlfriend all over again – not looking forward to telling the wife

Lakeland 1980 – Rick James Tour

Whats better than a soundboard from 1981? A soundboard from 1980! I have just taken my first listen to the new Eye Records release I’m Just A Freak and I have to say, I am most impressed. Not so much the release itself, but the music contained within. The music is fresh and exciting, and listening to it gives me the exact same feelings I had when I first started listening to Prince bootlegs thirty years ago, I am reborn as a fan as I am baptized by the music as if for the first time. So, lets rewind the clock and kneel at the alter of this recording, and in particular pay respect to the first concert of the set, 8th March 1980 at Lakeland, Florida.

8th March 1980, Lakeland, Florida

The “Boogie Intro” has me agape from the very first moment. It is a rambunctious ball of all that Prince does, a four minute blast that encapsulates all his sounds and genres. From the opening groove underpinned with the brute strength of Prince’s guitar riff, to the fantastically electric wonder of Dr Finks synth solo, we are immediately transported into Princes world. I shouldn’t read too much into this opening number, but already I can hear funk, rock, and hints of the Minneapolis sound that will come in later years. It is an engaging opening that never wavers from its unflinching servitude to the groove, no matter what euphoric sounds Prince pulls from his guitar, the dance floor is firmly in mind.

On top of the cyclone of an intro, “Soft And Wet” plays as per its title, it is both soft and wet in comparison. Its only halfway through the song that the first musical punch is thrown, and the second half is a feisty drunk in comparison to the first sober minute. It does sound gorgeous in this quality though, and it only suffers in comparison to the earlier song.

The concert takes the phrase hot and heavy, and makes come alive in the music they are playing. “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” bleeds a warmth through the recording, and Prince and Dez bring a heavier sound with their twin guitar onslaught. Its not about a wall of noise however, they play with a sparkling finesse that provides wings for the song to soar above such earthly sounds. If not grounded by Bobby Z’s insistent drive the song would threaten to disappear in its own swirl of smoke and mirrors, instead Bob is the captain who keeps it moored as he underpins Prince’s flight of fancy.

Prince stakes out his genre hopping style as he tackles a ballad, in this case “Still Waiting.” He plays it with a breezy style, there is space throughout the song and Prince feels no need to over complicate it with sound. It is a thoughtful performance and has a wistfulness to it that lies just beyond my ability to articulate. Its an immersive experience, the schmaltzy synths  a canvas for Prince to paint his vocals across.

After the color and sophistication of some of this earlier material, “Bambi” sounds positively caveman like. It plays as a battering ram, Prince clubbing us early with his muscular guitar riffs, but for me the real joy comes later in the song when he shakes of these rock cliches and plays his solos with his own unique electric fury. There is the feeling that I have heard it all before, but the unhinged final minutes awakens the fan inside me and I am caught up in this wave of untamed big guitar sheen.

The band introductions are timely, especially as “Sexy Dancer” is the moment when we can hear Andre and his bass in all it’s glory. With it’s nagging hook it is all about the dance floor, and even if I can’t see it I can certainly feel it in the low end. A coherent amalgamation of all the band’s talents, I am particularly taken by the synth solo that is sumptuous, yet lies entirely within the groove, always remaining slave to the beat. Andre’s bass solo goes one better, and leaves me full of regret that it isn’t longer, but the final guitar solo on the song cleanses me of any such thoughts and makes a strident statement across what had been a disco song.

There is a clutter about “Just As Long As We’re Together” and initially I aren’t drawn to it in the same way as I am with some of the other numbers. Prince is forceful though, and already he and the band are good enough to win me over with their evolving styles and hybrid sound. The bass and guitar battle to hold my attention, and I am the real winner as both are relentless in their drive for a petulant funk sound. Andre is thrilling in the bass lines he creates, I expect this of Prince with guitar, but Andre’s finesse and blistering skills is a revelation to me – this exactly why I collect bootlegs so passionately.

 

The show finishes with a strutting version of “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” From the first riff ringing out in the darkness it is a moment to stand up and celebrate the pure pop sound that lies at the heart of Prince’s music. Infectious and uplifting, there is nothing more to wish for, this concert may only be eight songs, but it holds everything you could want from Prince. The pop sound may reignite the audience, but Prince pulls the rug from under them as the final half of the song becomes an extended jam that touches on the bases all ready covered by Prince. He touches on the first base of pop, before sliding into the second base of funk. From here it is a helter skelter sprint for third base and his strong rock sound. The home run comes as all these are amalgamated in one glorious sound that can only be described as “Prince.” The music acts as a time machine, and this final jam has me right back in 1980, I am with Prince and the band every step of the way as they bring the concert to a close.

These Rick James concerts by Prince are short, but that matters not one bit as he crams every sound and genre he can into a short sharp set list. Each song comes as a jolt as he continues to change direction, but always the music is focused and  delivers a powerful experience. Eye records has done us all a favor with this release, these concerts are part of Princes legacy and an important part of his story that the estate are not telling, He was about the live performance as much as the studio, and this raw unfiltered Prince deserves every piece of coverage he gets. This will be on my player for a long, long time to come, and with every listen I remember just how electrifying Prince was in the 1980’s.

I’m going to give it another listen now,
See you next week
-Hamish

Paris 1981

It’s been quite some time since I last went back and listened to some shows from earlier in Princes career, and today’s blog taking in the Paris show from 1981 is well over due. I have previously written of shows from earlier in year, the shows in March at both Sam’s Minneapolis and the Ritz New York, as well as the opening for the Rolling Stones later in October of the year. This show today falls right between those and neatly shows how quickly Prince is evolving. There is a lot more evolution yet to come, but here we see his look becoming a little less raw, and the overall show becoming more focused. There is still a long way to go, as we’ll see, but he is definitely progressing forward at a great rate.

4th June 1981, Théâtre Le Palace, Paris

As the show begins Prince is looking all cool and calm, it seems his look has been toned down, certain from the raw look he had at the Ritz show. I wouldn’t go so far as calling his look polished, but it certainly would be more acceptable to my Mother. Do It All Night matches the look of Prince and the band, it sounds smooth and polished, even if the lyrics give a clue to what lies behind this facade. The band is together on the small stage, shoulder to shoulder, and this too can be heard in the music, the band is tight and playing as one. Sonically it’s the bass that I am drawn to most, it’s got a life to it that lifts the song, and it helps that Andre Cymone looks dead cool as he’s playing. In fact, with a front line of Andre, Prince, and Dez it’s hard to say who’s the coolest, and all of them are worth watching closely.

Paris 81

Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad sees Prince stalking the front of the stage, guitar slung at his side ready for action. After the first verse he delivers, and along with Dez there is a nice clean rock sound that comes across as warm rather than dangerous. That feeling changes as the song progresses and Prince becomes more impassioned and bolder with his guitar playing as we get deeper into the song. Initially its Dez striking the guitar hero poses but soon enough Prince is again centre of attention as he has his guitar howling and crying. Even as the three of them stand shoulder to shoulder playing it is still Prince my eyes remain glued too, guitar in hand he is electrifying to watch. The last minute even more so as he plays out the last minute of the song solo, every note stretched for maximum effect and emotional value, and I know that as a teenage boy the final pose of him atop of the amps shredding was about as good as it gets.

Paris 81a

The teenage me would not have been quite as excited by Gotta A Broken Heart Again that follows, however the more mature me finds plenty to like about it. Eyes closed, gripping the microphone, Prince is in the moment and putting his all into the vocals. I haven’t seen this DVD in years, and watching it now I am seeing it with new eyes, Prince isn’t working the guitar or the audience, instead he’s pouring it out into the vocals and as a listener the reward is great. It’s not a song that I would generally rate for the vocals, today I am in a different frame of mind and it’s all I hear as he sings.

The announcement that “this is a new song, Jack U Off” has me again paying attention closely, Jack U Off seems to have been around for ever, but even it was a new song at some stage. The audience is fairly muted (as they are throughout) and it’s up to Prince to compensate with his dancing and energy onstage. His dancing is still at a primitive stage, its Dez who gets all the cool points here with his guitar god moves and poses. The song finishes with a flourish, before something more serious and well-known follows.

Prince loses another layer of clothing as When You Were Mine soars into view. The song sounds sprightly, although onstage there are times when the band look like they are going through the motions. They get a new less of life after the breakdown, and the second half of the song is played with great gusto. No matter what is happening on stage, it always sounds good in my ears, and never once do the band drop the ball in this respect. The final moments see Prince knelt at the front of the stage playing guitar in a visual image that always sticks with me.

Paris 81d

Paris 81c

I never thought of Gotta Stop (Messin’ About) as a fully-fledged rock song before, but here it is rocking my socks off. The bass and drums and beautifully locked in and Dez provides some sharp edged guitar buzz to it the has my inner rocker all a shaking. The only thing that pulls it back is the shrill keyboards, the rest of the time it’s all macho posing and Dez’s deeper backing vocals add a much manlier sound to the mix. Prince derails this somewhat with his effeminate dancing and overall provides a cool balance to it all, especially as he and Dez engage in some interplay with their guitar playing.

Andre is back to the forefront of things as Sexy Dancer begins, and his bass certainly adds a lot more weight than what is heard on record. Prince, Andre and Dez perform some rather rudimentary moves, although it’s hardly necessary on a stage as small as this, and instead it’s the music that carries the day. The part of the performance that does catch my attention however, is when the three of them stand in a semi-circle playing to each other. Although they don’t make eye contact you do get the feeling that they are listening to each other and playing off each other.

Paris 81e

I can’t get past the silliness of Sister, although one does have to admire the courage of Prince to stand in his underwear and sing this in front of a crowd of strangers. It’s a blessing that the song is so short, but to be fair I don’t see how he could make it any longer without really pushing things over the top.

I am much more at ease as we sail into Still Waiting. It refreshing to see Prince at this stage without guitar in hand, and instead he engages in some old fashioned showmanship and he croons and works his way through the song at the front of the stage. He moans, he howls, he croons, he falls to his knees at the front row, all the time attempting to break through to the audience. He falsetto for the final minutes is right on the money, and it’s a rare thing to hear a voice of such clarity and beauty in a raw club setting.

Guitar rattle and runs signal the start of the next movement, and initially sounds like the beginning of a blues song until Prince begins to tell the audience “Down with War” which kicks open the door for Party Up. Prince has worked himself into a lather by this stage and he is looking and sounding suitably sweaty as they bump and funk their way through the song. Andres moves behind Prince almost steal the show for me, I am fascinated by his bobbing and weaving, although Prince commands attention as he later calls on the rather flat Paris crowd to “partyup”. Even enthusiastic hand clapping from Prince fails to elicit much of a response, this is either one cool crowd or a bunch of cardboard cut-outs. Dez and Prince put their all into playing, and they look like they are feeling it, even if the crowd isn’t.

Paris 81f

Dirty Mind sees Prince finally dispense with the last of his clothes, and performs in his bikini briefs. The music is exciting and up-tempo, and the performance has plenty going for it. Princes dancing is raw, and to be honest at times he does look like he performing calisthenics rather than performing on stage. It makes me wonder if he did perhaps meet the devil down by the cross roads sometime between this show and 1984, there is night and day between the dancing of the two eras. Knowing Prince as I do, I’m sure he dedicated many hours to perfecting his dancing, and looking at his raw performance here I can see it was certainly needed. His passion for the music and obvious joy of performing it does shine through, and it’s very hard for me to be negative about any aspect of the performance, I know a lot of my moves are similar to this when I am dancing to his music. Dez’s guitar and the swelling keys give it a great uplifting sound, and the energy does leap out of the speakers at me throughout the entire song.

There is no better way to end the show than Uptown, and it is a glorious sounding version played here. Prince and the band end on a high, Andres bass and Dezs guitar sound full and fresh, as does Bobby on the drums along with Lisa and Finks keyboards. Everything sounds pushed forward and full, and I do love the full band sound playing at maximum power. Prince is back to playing guitar, mostly rhythm although he often instead punches the air or grabs the microphone. There is a great coda though where his guitar playing is highlighted, although only briefly, and then its Dez who gets a rocking lead break while Prince encourages the crowd one last time.

Paris 81g

There is no denying this is an earlier, rawer sounding Prince. He is moving in the right direction though, there is more dancing appearing and they are working on a more well-rounded performance. The sound on this recording was excellent, and seeing the band as well as hearing them is always an added bonus. Of the earlier shows by Prince captured on tape, this is perhaps my favourite, the look of the band, their sound, and the show itself are all interesting and it greatly appeals to me. This is a real band performance, I could hear each of them playing their part and contributing, I could have easily highlighted anyone of the band for special praise, and for me that says a lot for the quality of Prince’s bands. A worthy addition to any collection, this one will stand up to further viewings in years to come.

Thanks for reading,
See you back here next week
-Hamish

Paris 81b

Lakeland 1983

This week I am rolling back the clock to 1983 for another 1999 show. Although the shows are all very similar, I still love listening to and watching young Prince in action. What the shows lack in variety, they make up in energy, showmanship and pure enjoyment. I have written of other shows from the 1999 tour, and this one doesn’t differ much from those, so this will be a shorter entry. I haven’t heard this one for a while, so I can’t wait to hear a few old favourites.

Lakeland 1983

1st February, 1983, Lakeland Civic Centre, Florida

Its classic Prince as the spoken intro of 1999 intones before a thunder roll opens the show. The sense of anticipation builds as the drum beat of Controversy plays before the sound of the guitar and Prince appears in silhouette, astride the action on his high perch. He plays the whole song like this, just silhouetted and singing, and I find it really suits the song and the mood of the song – Prince the mysterious figure appearing in the mist to lay his funk upon us. The song has an air of causal professionalism, the band sound laid back in places, and it’s Prince’s guitar as well as some clunky piano that add the tension to the song. I appreciate that Prince calls out Bobby Z, and I love that there is a nice little guitar moment just as the song comes to a close.

Lakeland 1983b

 

Let’s Work has Prince back in the spot light literally, while Brown Mark takes the spot light musically. I think when most people think of Prince, this is the image that comes to mind, him resplendent in his purple trench coat and finely coiffured hair piled high upon his head. The band all get moments on this song, and I enjoy hearing them all individually. I am surprised that Dez gets a solo too, in the 1999 shows his role is diminished, and the sight of him and Prince playing shoulder to shoulder in the Controversy tour is now just a memory. He still plays well, and his performance is fun, but that close knit look of previous tours is gone.

Lakeland 1983c

Dez shines early on in Do Me Baby, his guitar line off setting some of the lushness, and for me it greatly enhances the performance.   As always, Prince plays the showman on this one, and his performance is visual just as much as it is vocal. The highlight for me is Prince standing atop a little side platform and unleashing a couple of howls, it’s something the teenage me enjoyed, and I still get a kick out of it today. Somehow it’s not as down and dirty as it looked on the Controversy tour, Prince has toned down his performance somewhat, nevertheless still very enjoyable.

D.M.S.R almost has me on my feet, but I am just a little too repressed to leap straight up and dance to it. The start of the song is great, with Prince, Brown Mark and Dez all playing together and pulling a couple of moves. Again it feels like a band performance, rather than Prince backed by a band. This is heightened mid-song when the three of them again play together and slide easily back and forth in unison. The song finishes and I realize that I have just been watching in awe, it’s a great performance.

Lakeland 1983d

Lisa’s shimmering solo is always a pleasure to listen to, and although different in tone from what we have been listening to, it never feels like it has been shoehorned into the show. The crowd however are here for Prince, and there are plenty of shouts and screams as he appears and begins to play at the piano.

A brief introduction of With You before he grooves easily into How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore. I wonder what he can do with it this time, and after a couple of minutes of playing he begins his shtick. Prancing across the stage, lying on the piano, and a couple of good screams is par for the course here, and he delivers it all with aplomb. It gets better as he goes, and it peaks as he tells the crowd that as he was making love to another girl he screamed out your name. Obviously the crowd lap it up, and it’s all done with a nod and a wink that gives it a fun tone. The tootsie roll line has been done to death, but the intro of Lady Cab Driver comes right on top of and doesn’t give me a chance to dwell on the moment.

Lady Cab Driver sounds effortless smooth, and seeing Prince singing and playing his guitar on this song is a definite highlight for me. The song is very smooth sounding with the exception of Dez’s scorching guitar solo. Shirtless and throwing shapes as he plays, there is no mistaking he is the rock in Princes sound, both figuratively and literally. The song somewhat disappointingly ends here, leaving me hungry for more.

Lakeland 1983f

I am surprised at how quickly I Wanna To Be Your Lover starts. The beat doesn’t stop, it just segues straight into it. I Wanna Be Your Lover is kept very short, a verse and chorus before Head gets even less, with a single line and a riff.  Its nice to get even that, and it’s a nod to those in the audience that have stuck with Prince, from his dirty days through to now as he is on the cusp of pop stardom.

Again the music doesn’t let up as Little Red Corvette follows straight on the heels of the previous two songs. There is nothing in the ways of build up, Prince starts singing right from the start. What I really like about it though is the bass is nice and fat sounding, and it’s much more to the fore. As always Dez’s solo is great, and yet it’s the bass that I keep coming back to, especially as his solo finishes. It’s as heard on the 12 inch version, and as the bass loops over Dez comes back with another solo. I would say this part of the show is essential, Dez’s solo is fierce before the band drops out leaving the bass line playing and Prince encouraging the crowd to clap. The song continues with the full band and that fantastic bass for another couple of minutes, and I could dine on this all day long.

Lakeland 1983e

Chants of “We want Prince” bring our Casanova back to stage for the overworked International Lover. Prince plays his part so well, opening the song shrouded in smoke, before turning on the seduction as the song progresses. This song highlights how much a Prince concert has become a “show”. It’s not longer Prince and the band playing their songs in a furious assault, now the performance matters much more, and certain songs are tightly choreographed and done for show. This is the most staged of the songs, with Prince climbing high on his stage to the infamous hydraulic bed. There is plenty of screams as he performs a striptease before lowering himself to the bed. As he sinks from view I can’t help but think “what a great way to end a show!”

There isn’t too much time to consider this as the familiar opening riff of 1999 begins. Prince reappears, looking every inch a pop star in his shiny purple coat. This song sounded great on the radio, and it sounds just as good live. It’s a lot of fun seeing Bobby Z standing behind his drumkit, playing to the drum track, while Jill Jones and Lisa share a microphone and vocals. It does have a triumphant sound to it, and it’s the right song to end the concert with at this stage.  There is no better sight and sound than seeing Prince and band dancing and playing some great rhythm towards the end of the show. As smoke engulfs the stage the guitars begin to howl and one last pose Prince ends the show.

These older shows are always great, the freshness of the music, and the extra spring in the step of both Prince and Revolution. Even though the shows don’t vary much, I always enjoy listening to them, especially with The Time playing as well. It was about this time that I first became a Prince fan, so there is always a heavy dose of nostalgia when I listen to these shows-they may not be essential, but they are definitely a lot of fun.

Thanks
Hamish

 

 

Kansas City-Welcome to 1999

1999 is to me Princes best album. Many would disagree and say Sign O The Times, but for me 1982 and the 1999 album is where Prince finally delivered on his potential and recorded the first master piece of his career. 1999 is the album that cemented my fandom, and it’s still much loved by me today. So it’s somewhat of a surprise that I don’t hold the 1999 tour in such high esteem, and although I listen to the 1999 album a lot, the tour itself is often over looked by me. This is for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the 1999 concerts don’t concentrate on the 1999 album as much as I would like. Only about half the album is played, and it’s not until well into the shows do we first get a song off 1999. The 1999 songs miss that cold electric feel in the live setting, and there is more warmth to them. Secondly Prince firmly has his eye on reaching a larger audience. There is nothing wrong with that, but I feel the band has a little less fire and freedom then they do on earlier tours. There is no wild guitar breaks, and Prince has toned down his look, as well as doing away with some of his racier songs such as Head.  The shows are now streamlined, and a lot more predictable. On the plus side, the 1999 shows clearly sign post what is coming next with Purple Rain, and there is a newer professionalism evident that is required to reach the next level. Also the piano set makes its first appearance at these shows, and although short, set the standard for the future. An exciting transitional period, it’s worth hearing these shows as they capture Prince just as he is reaching a wider audience.

1999-7

19 March, 1983 Kansas City, Missouri

The first thing heard on this recording is the “Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you” voice from the beginning of 1999. However it’s not 1999 that opens the but instead the electrifying guitar riff of Controversy. It may seem strange, but one of the things I notice is the reaction of the crowd is different from previous tours. The response is loud, but not wild, and there is more of a sound of expectation rather than wild abandonment. The recording is an audience recording, and it has aged well. The music sounds strong and bold, and Princes vocals are clear and easily understood. He calls to the crowd “welcome to 1999” as the band plays a polished version of Controversy. All Princes bands are well rehearsed, but here there seems to be an extra sharpness. They are very lean and polished sounding. The song is very tight, and even Dezs backing vocals are right on the money. It’s not a 1999 song, but it is a good opening song for the show. I really like the guitar sound through the song, and it gains extra emphasis in this tight arrangement. The song isn’t over played and doesn’t get played out quite as much as I would like.

Sticking with songs from the Controversy album the band play an equally tight version of Lets Work. This elicits a more wild reaction from the crowd and there are many squeals to be heard. This song also seems to have a very strong sound to it, and it pumps through my speakers nicely. Prince’s vocals are out front and strong and he is well matched by the synth. I normally hear the bass much more when listening to recordings of this song, however here it seems to be lower in the mix. As per Controversy the song is kept short, and Prince doesn’t jam on it in anyway at all. It’s got a good party sound to it, and Prince can be heard winning over the audience and working them well.

Third song in and we get the trademark slow song. Do Me Baby has a long intro and it quickly quietens the audience. Prince has changed since the Controversy tour and he doesn’t over work the song as he did on that tour. He is far more restrained in his vocals, yet they are still great and very strong, just he doesn’t pour as much emotion into them. Perhaps being a longer tour, or playing in larger arenas, he holds it in and just sings it straight down the line. The song itself is great, and I do enjoy it immensely. I love the long opening sequence before he sings, and as always his vocals performance and screams hold my attention. Performances like this are timeless.

Finally we get a 1999 song as the synths play the synth horn-line of D.M.S.R. The bass and the drums lock into step and it’s hard not to smile listening to it. It’s a little quicker than the album, I’m not sure if it’s due to the live performance or the tape recording. I can hear the audience clapping along, and that’s normally a good sign. The whole middle section is present complete with sirens and female shrieks, before some very funky rhythm guitar plays. Prince encourages the “White folks clap on the two and four”, acknowledging the changing colour of his audience. I could have happily listened to this song much longer (I was clapping on the two and four) but it ends in a wave of shimmering synths before things quieten again and there is another change of pace.

1999-4

Next Lisa plays a lovely interlude. There is more shimmering synths that come in waves adding layer upon layer of sound. It’s a good couple of minutes and I am happy to hear Lisa showing some of her talent.

The sound of the piano marks the return of Prince and he takes a solo turn at the piano. He warms himself and us up with an instrumental arrangement of For You. It serves as a nice introduction to his piano playing and is a sweet couple of minutes. It’s a good chance for Prince to showcase another one of his talents to the crowd, and they do show their appreciation with applause.

Still Waiting has him singing, but its slight and his vocals are soft sounding. I get a lot of enjoyment from the song, but I am mostly listening to the piano and Princes vocals don’t make much of an impression on me.

How Come You Don’t Me Anymore is much stronger, both in his piano playing and his singing. He can be heard playing the keys much harder, and his vocals are sung with more gusto. This song is still a regular in the piano set to this day, and listening here I can see why it’s made such an impression all these years. The vocals are playful, and tell a story most can relate to, while the piano has a lilt and swing to it that is irresistible. It also contains some great screams near the end, as well as a hint of Princes smutty humour as he asks “Don’t you want to play with my tootsie roll?”

1999-1

What follows next is my personal highlight of the show as they play Lady Cab Driver. They manage to capture the dry sound it has on the album, and the bass and synths are excellent. Prince has a detached sound to his voice, and for the first time I really feel like it’s a 1999 show. Prince also has a brief but fine moment with his guitar near the end of the song. The only let down is it’s nowhere near as long as it is on the album, and as an abridged version it sounds far more like a pop song. I do like it though, so I play it twice in a row.

The ‘pop hit’ follows next as Prince and the band play and upbeat and sharp version of Little Red Corvette. It’s almost perfunctory in it’s delivery and it’s not the highlight you may expect. I would have thought Prince could do more with it, but he shuts it down right after the guitar solo, we are denied even hearing the album version.  I feel cheated as even the introduction keyboards are very short before Prince begins singing. The song does sound OK, but as it ends it seems like a wasted opportunity.

The sound of a woman moaning heralds the return of the Prince I know and love as the band swings into a raucous version of Dirty Mind. For the first and only time in the evening we hear Prince and the band play in a style I am used to from previous tours. There is a lot more energy in the song, Prince is singing his dirty lyrics, and the whole song has an exuberant feel to it. It also gets the jam treatment, which I like. There is a long bridge with plenty of keyboards, before a rough sounding guitar is heard underneath. The song comes to an end in a cascade of keyboard and guitar and I couldn’t be happier.

“Fasten your seatbelts” and the seductive sounds of International Lover begins. Another professional performance follows as it played almost note perfect to what’s heard on album. The stand out moments for me is as the music fades and quietens Prince delivers up some great vocal work and especially some excellent shrieks. There is plenty of crowd noise as Prince goes through his stage show and it’s obviously going over very well with the audience. The recording is very clean here, and I love that I can hear every instrument and sound so clearly. Amazing sound for a 30 year old audience recording.

1999-3

The song fades and instantly the synth riff of 1999 sounds. It’s got a good driving sound to it, and I like it that it’s the synth that is driving it, rather than the pounding drum beat we hear on later tours. Prince’s vocals aren’t as clear as the other singers, but the music is the hero here, and that is perfect. The synth trumps everything, and at times it’s almost too much for me. Things become more balanced later in the song as the guitar sound becomes more prominent, as well as Princes vocals becoming clearer. It’s no surprise at all that this is the party song of the evening and it closes on a high note with Prince and the crowd singing together. There is one final refrain before a glorious keyboard riff and the howl of a guitar wraps it up. The final crescendo is magnificent as Prince shreds the guitar over a wall of keyboards.

My earlier assessment of the 1999 shows was perhaps overly harsh. I can’t deny, I greatly enjoyed listening to this show. There was some flashes of greatness from Prince, and I can’t deny the band was so tight and well-rehearsed that they were flawless. My only problem was it was too professional, too dry. I liked the looseness or Dirty Mind, and again the final couple of minutes of 1999, but for the most part it was following a pretty tight script. Still, an interesting listen to the evolution of Prince, and a big step towards Purple Rain and world domination.

Take care
-Hamish

 

 

The Ritz 1981

After listening to recordings from more modern times recently, I have today decided today to dig back all the way to 1981. I like these early shows- no Purple Rain, no dancers, no sampler sets- just the music. The word that always comes to mind is ‘raw’ and although it’s almost a cliché, it is entirely true. Prince is raw, both musically and visually, and I can connect to the younger him on stage. I will be watching a show from 1981, and there isn’t too many shows circulating on video from this time, it’s certainly not like nowadays when there seems to be a camera at every show. I love this show, but it’s been sometime since I last saw it, so I look forward to reacquainting myself with it.

Ritz 81

22 March, 1981, The Ritz, New York

The first thing I hear is the bass snap of Do It All Night and the simmering synth riff. Prince appears bathed in dry ice, and I already love this show. It’s got such a classic feel to it, it’s hard not to be swept along on a high. Prince’s vocals are nice and pure, and the bass in particular sounds great. The whole recording is very clean, it really is a treat to listen to. The band certainly looks like they are ready to rock, however the song doesn’t require it and they are nicely restrained. There is a cool moment in the show when Prince calls Andre and Dez to walk and the three of them pull a nice little move off together. Prince is a little quiet, that is by no means a criticism as his vocals are so crisp.

Ritz 81a

The rock part of the gig starts next as Dez throws himself energetically into Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad. There are a few squeals from the crowd as Prince sings his lines, but it’s at the chorus that the song really takes off. Both Andre and Dez put a lot of energy into it, and I feel it elevates the song considerably. There is also a nice moment as Prince and Dez strike their classic guitar gods pose. I can just about sing Princes guitar break note for note as I have heard it so many times, and it gets my heart pumping now just as much as it did 30 years ago. It has been a good while since I last heard this song, and I had forgotten how much enjoyment I get out of it. Prince’s second guitar break is more interesting, he is backed by the keyboards, and they ably match him. The song isn’t as long as I have sometimes heard, and it leaves me wanting more as Prince brings it to a close.

Ritz 81b

“We’re going to do something for the rude people” has me wondering what he is going to play next, and I am pleasantly surprised as Prince croons his way through Gotta Broken Heart Again. Not only is his singing gentle on the ear, but there is also some delicate piano and guitar play which has me paying close attention. The song doesn’t contain anything in the way of surprise, and that is a surprise in itself and Prince keeps it simple. He does indulge in some vocal play at the end of the song before it comes to a close with that piano again. This song is great, and I’m doing it a disservice by not writing more about it.

I wrote about Broken when I covered his 81 show at Sams Minneapolis, and here it once again appears. Its rockabilly style feels a little out of place, but in retrospect it’s nothing like the stylistic jumps later in his career. I like Princes vocals, his singing at this time is a nice falsetto, it’s just the music in this song is so slight it leaves me feeling hollow.

Ritz 81f

Bobby Z gets to play a nice long intro to When You Were Mine, before Prince comes in with his guitar. The song isn’t as strong as I like, there is certainly much stronger versions floating around. It’s played well though, and I can’t fault it in any way. Prince looks incredibly young, and it’s hard to believe he’s lived the experiences he is singing about. The break down is normally longer than what we hear on this recording, and after a quick line Prince jumps back into the song. It’s all very fine, but I get the feeling that something needs turning up to 11 to make the song jump.

Ritz 81d

Gotta Stop Messing About sounds good, so I am surprised to see how static the audience is. Andre’s bass is the star for me through this song, he has a nice pop going in my left ear. Dez and Andre both contribute backing vocals to Prince and it does add a more manly sound to the song, although the synth squiggle undoes some of that. Prince does bounce and bob, and yet the song never really ignites and comes to an end leaving me wishing it was something more.

I hear a funky guitar play and the rhythmic pattern of Sexy Dancer played on the cymbals and my spirits lift. The main elements of the song are Princes guitar and his vocals, and that’s no bad thing at all. There is a keyboard solo, but I find myself still listening to Princes guitar as it plays. The song becomes a dance after about half way, plenty of bass, guitars and a nice easy chant rolling over and over. There is a brief guitar break from Prince that becomes more and more and we get a good couple of minutes of him playing rhythm guitar centre stage. I was about to dismiss the rest of the band, but Dr Fink plays a really cool solo, complete with bobbing head and jerking motions. I love ya Doc!

Ritz 81h

I don’t recall the last time I listened to Sister. Some days I love it, and some days I dismiss it as a throw away piece. I like seeing the performance here, but truthfully I could probably live without it. It’s hard to be critical of something that’s so brief, so it’s with pleasure we move to the next song.

I Want To Be Your Lover is a slab of pure pop, and it’s hard for me to reconcile between the look of Dirty Mind era Prince, and the pop sound of the song. In later years he would joke with the lyric “Ain’t got no money (now that’s a lie)” but I have to say looking at him here, he definitely looks like he’s got no money. As good as his vocals sound, for this song it’s the rhythm guitar of Dez that I focus on. Not just the chorus, but also the verses his guitar sound is fantastic. I don’t think I had noticed it earlier, but now it’s all I can hear. As befitting a pop song it finishes after three minutes and we move onto something much darker, and funkier.

Ritz 81g

There is no better sound than that of Prince and the band grooving on the intro of Head. That opening synth stab and the delicious sound of the guitars before Prince intones his opening lines, all of it is great for me. I would love this even if it was a bad performance, but then again how often does that happen? This one is great, and right at the start there is a fantastic shot of a very young Lisa Coleman singing her lines, the show is worth seeing just for that alone. Another highlight is seeing Dr Fink doing what he does best, and I swear one day I am going to learn how to dance like that. Prince looks somewhat like Mick Jagger as he leads the crowd into singing “head”, and there is plenty of strutting and prancing. The band hit their straps at this point, and all of them look like they are feeling the groove as the play. Andre in particular puts on a great show. For many years the highlight of this song has been the second half as Prince engages in his guitar noise and showmanship. Seeing it as well as hearing it is a bonus, and even though I have heard it a lot I still find myself watching transfixed as Prince plays. The last few minutes are epic as Prince plays lead, rhythm and masturbates with his guitar. I can’t help but think of the word ‘raw’ again. And ‘awesome’

Ritz 81i

Things take another change as Still Waiting is the next song played. Dr Fink again is a star with his piano playing carrying the song early on. Prince is once again at his crooning best, I may not catch all the words but I catch his meaning. The song has a gentle elegance to it during the chorus and the lights come up slightly as the music rises. Prince steps out from behind the microphone stand and engages with the audience with his looks and vocal performance, and I find myself warming to him much more here. Prince shows more of his star power as later in the song he sings under a single spotlight and we hear some of his great falsetto. Prince directs the band to finish the song and with a final vocal flourish it ends.

Ritz 81j

The show does go for longer, but sadly the video footage ends here, and so must my blog entry.

It’s very hard for me to write objectively about any show from this time period. I am a life long fan of Prince, and I listen to all sorts of shows, but some years are better to me than others. Give me anything from 1981, 1986 or 1995 and I am about as happy as I can be. This isn’t the best from this time, but seeing it does give it some extra merit. There are only a few shows documented on video from this time, so I do treat this one with reverence. A good show, and a nice video, it’s got plenty going for it, it’s just a shame it wasn’t the whole show or a more impassioned performance. A worthy addition to the collection and worth watching a couple of times a year.

Have a great week,
See you next week for another great recording ‘off the record’
-Hamish

Ritz 81k

 

Sams, Minneapolis 1981

Looking through my collection, I see that 1981 was a pretty good year. Prince was evolving fast, and there is a nice spread of recordings from this year to document this. There are DVDs capturing both Dirty Mind and Controversy shows and plenty of audio of recordings of both tours. I have gone for a recording taken earlier in the year of 1981 for today’s blog post. It would have been very easy to pull the excellent Houston gig from the Controversy tour later in the year, or a DVD of one of the Dirty Mind shows, but I have instead taken a listen to a show from early March. It is a recording taken in Princes hometown, and although the quality isn’t as good as some of the other shows I have mentioned, the fact that it is in Minneapolis is interesting for me, and I am hoping that we get something special due to this fact.

9 March, 1981, Sams, Minneapolis

Prince immediately acknowledges that this is a homecoming gig- when the recording begins the first things we hear him say are “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”. The recording is thick and I do initially have trouble making out what he is saying. However, it’s by no means unlistenable, and once the music starts it’s not too bad, the music is nice and deep and strong, but disappointingly the vocals remain incomprehensible. But for an audience recording of this age I can’t say its surprise to me. The first song played is Do It All Night. It has a nice aggressive start, with several thrusts before it begins proper. The guitar and drums are what I can hear best, but during the chorus the noise pulls back just enough for me to hear the keyboards. There is a drum break and Prince gets the crowd to sing along “do it all night”. They sound full of energy, and it’s an enjoyable moment. Bobby Z closes the song with plenty of cymbals and we move easily into Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.

Dirty Mind Prince3

Prince’s vocals become clearer on this part of the recording, and I think the recording picks up his lower register much better than his falsetto. This is bared out when he gets to the chorus and again the vocals distort. The interaction between the bass and guitar is worth listening to, you can hear them intertwining and it’s something I hadn’t noticed before. The first half of Princes guitar break is exactly the same as I have heard plenty of times, it sounds good, but I don’t pay it too much attention. But immediately after he says “Why you wanna treat me so bad, bitch!” the guitar really heats up, and this grabs me straight away. It’s aggressive and loud, and it is the stomping sort of solo that I like to hear. Bobby Z adds weight to this with plenty of crashes late in the break, before it all stops for Prince to give us another 30 seconds of guitar howl to end the song. A slow start, but excellent finish- this one surprised me.

Gotta Broken Heart Again subdues the mood, and its feels very calm and smooth after the previous song. The piano is lost in the recording somewhat, and it’s all Prince and the bass that I can hear. I do catch snatchs of the piano, but I have to listen carefully. The song itself does sound good, and Princes vocals are better on this than the previous two songs. The song gets better as it goes, and there is some nice guitar and cymbal interplay. Again it heightens my appreciation of Bobby Z and how much he was part of Princes setup in the early days. There is a long gentle finish with Prince singing with only piano, and it does have a better sound to it than the first part of the song.

Next we get Broken, a track that has never been released by Prince. It was played several times on the Dirty Mind tour, but here is its first live appearance. Over hand claps Prince sings the opening few lines, before a rockabilly piano enters and the energy jumps up. It sounds slight, and awkwardly out of place. But I do like it, especially the backing vocals of the band and their call and response with Prince. As with all his songs in this style its short, there’s just enough time for a piano break before the song quickly ends.

Dirty Mind Prince 1

I am back in more familiar territory next with the sound of the drum intro into When You Were Mine. The guitar comes on board, but due to the recording it doesn’t have the crisp clean sound I am used to, and the same could be said for Princes vocals, I know what he is singing, but I have to listen very carefully to make them out. As always, the keyboards sound joyful and full. The solo is a little quiet for my liking, but it’s still good. Prince doesn’t dwell too long on the break down as he does on some shows, and the song moves along at a good pace. It doesn’t have the passionate howls near the end as we get on the Controversy tour, it’s a nice rendition, but better was still to come later in the year.

Some nice rhythm guitar followed by a Prince scream begins us into Sexy Dancer. The tone and attitude is just right on this one, and the music itself does sound like a sexy dancer. The music is strong, but there is a nice funk guitar slithering underneath that gives it a sexy feel. There is a lot of crowd noise, and I guess Prince is doing some sort of sexy dance. It doesn’t matter that I can’t see it, as there is plenty for me to listen to. There is plenty of time for a keyboard break, and some more funky rhythm guitar. The rhythm guitar is a little low when it gets its break, but I can still hear it OK. The piano keyboard that follows is the best part of the song for me, it plays for a while, both doing it on thing, as well as interacting with the rest of the band. The song ends right after this with a bubble of electronic noise.

Sister takes us in another direction entirely, its upbeat, noise and brash. Again Princes vocals are loud but I can’t make out his words, and its probably just as well in this case! The rest of the band play with energy, and the song is over in less than two minutes. It was almost a diversion rather than a song.

Dirty Mind Prince2

The pop sounds of I Wanna Be Your Lover follows next. I have always preferred the live versions of this compared to the album version, they seem to have more intensity and grit to them. This is no exception, the crowd love this one, and the band do play it well. The bass and Prince are picked up best by the recording, so the keyboard sound is secondary to the bass. I’m sure that’s not the case, but on this recording that’s what I can hear best. It’s not a bad thing I do enjoy grooving along to the bass, and Princes vocals almost have me singing along. The coda is relatively short and it’s a nice lead in to what I know is coming next.

A blast on the keyboard signals the beginning of Head. I have never heard a version of Head that I didn’t love, and this one is no exception. Right from the start there is plenty of screams and yells for the crowd and I am right with them. Even on audience recordings Head still pops out of the speakers at me nice and strong. The keyboard stabs are captured well by the recording and of course the bass and Prince vocals. The audience sing enthusiastically throughout, and at one stage are chanting “head, head, head, head, head” There is an interesting little drum roll into a quirky keyboard break that I hadn’t heard before. It’s after Dr Finks main solo, and I can’t explain it well, but I do like it. The song quiets down to just bass and cymbals, and the crowd can be heard chanting ” you gonna have to fight your own damn war, we don’t want to fight no more” A very cool moment, before some keyboard stabs and Princes guitar begins. After some guitar noodling the keyboard comes faster than I had heard before and again it’s an interesting variation on a song I have heard plenty of times. It ends not as I expect with the strong sound of Princes guitar, but instead just sort of fades to an end. Surprising, but very enjoyable.

Still Waiting lacks the intensity of the last two songs, and the audience can’t be heard as much either. It seems lackluster after listening to 10 minutes of Head. But it’s not a bad song, so I am beginning to question its placement in the set list. The sound is better on this, I find it easy to listen to and Princes vocals sound sweet, although I still can’t understand what he is singing. The song takes a big up swing half way through, the recording changes, as Prince screams and the drums crash over the top. There is then another quiet passage of just Prince and the band singing, which is pretty much as good as it gets in this song. It’s a cool moment, but then the rest of the song doesn’t do much for me as the recording deteriorates.

Dirty Mind Prince

Partyup has a much tighter feel to it, and isn’t as bass heavy as other songs on the recording. The keyboards are more to the fore, and although I can’t hear the guitar as well the vocals do sound better. The song is played as we know it from the record, so there aren’t any surprises to be heard. There is plenty of noise, and keyboard from Dr Fink, and the drums are nicely in the mix too. It’s played for what it is, an audience pleaser, and you do hear the audience chanting near the end, and all the while Dr Fink keeps the keyboard noise going. It’s does sound just like on the album, but it runs out to eight minutes here, as the end is played out and the crowd begin chanting, although you can barely hear them due to the glorious racket the band is making.

There is a brief pause and then the band returns with Uptown. I have always thought that Uptown is thematically very similar to Partyup, so I was surprised to hear them side by side on this recording. Uptown is much better than Partyup here, and I enjoy it much more. It’s got a clean sound, and is very danceable. There is some excellent guitar work, and a great solo. Unfortunately it’s a very quiet on the recording, but it does sound fantastic. The band stops and there is plenty more guitar that I can barely hear. A shame, but that is the way with audience recordings. There is a drum beat that begins some more guitar playing, but it all sounds like it’s far away.

The ever reliable Bobby Z plays us into Crazy You. A song I very rarely listen to, here I find it a real high point. The keyboard and bass bob along just nicely, and even though again I struggle to hear Prince I do like the melody. There is some gentle guitar playing which I do hear better, and it lures me in well. The second half the song moves along faster and louder, but still retains it nice groove. There isn’t much in the way of singing, but I do like all of it. The guitar plays over the groove for a good two or three minutes and it’s excellent.

Gotta Stop doesn’t sound as fast as it does on record, and it is much better for it. The raw guitar tone and the steady drums rolls work well. The keyboards aren’t as strong as they were earlier. I like Princes vocals, but the lyrics do start getting repetitive, but I could listen to the groove all day. I am surprised when it suddenly ends, but I see that it was played for quite a while, so it really drew me into the music.

The pounding beat of Dirty Mind next, and that great driving keyboard riff. The recording lacks the intensity and energy of other shows, Princes vocals are too lost in the mix, and I can’t hear any guitar. Even the parts where I know he is yelling in the microphone still sound very quiet. To compensate though, Bobby Z and his drums sound great, and I especially like the hard electric noise he gets from them. The song lacks something without the guitar sound, and it’s one of the weaker recordings I have of this song. I can hear the guitar later in the song, but it’s mostly Bobby Z that I can hear with his drums.

Prince tells us “we are running out of songs” before he plays Everybody Dance. As with Broken, this song never made it onto an album, and was only played at a few shows on this tour. There isn’t too much to the song, just a keyboard lead groove, and Prince sing “everybody, everybody dance” He does mix it up a little with lines such as “everybody, everybody say yeah” but there is nothing more in the way of lyrics. Even the groove doesn’t vary much and I can see why we didn’t hear much more of this song. But it is good to hear unreleased songs from this era, and I do enjoy it for its novelty value. It does outstay its welcome by a good couple of minutes, and there is no tears from me as it ends.

Prince 3

The grinding guitar of Bambi takes us to the last song of the evening. The power of the song is neutered by the recording, but it’s still good to hear it. With the recording being weak, it’s mostly Princes vocals that I listen to, he is finishing the gig strongly, and his voice is standing up well against the drums and guitar. The first half of the song sounds a little mundane, but things pick up later when Prince begins to play his solo. It’s very unfortunate that the recording ends here, and we don’t get to hear the end of the song.

There was plenty to like about this recording, and plenty to dislike. I did enjoy the fact that there was a couple of rarities in the set list, and the hometown crowd added a warm atmosphere to the show. However at times the limitations of the recording did mar my enjoyment of the show. I have listened to plenty of audience recordings, and this one is by no means a terrible one, but there is some songs where I didn’t quite get all the sounds that I might have otherwise wanted to hear. A good show, with a less than average recording, it was still worth a listen. Something I would listen to once every few years rather than something I would give a high rotation to.

Take care
Hamish

First Avenue 1982

It blows my mind that this gig was recorded just five weeks after the Passaic gig that I listened to the other week. It’s got a completely different feel to it, show cases new material, resurrects some old material, but as always features some outstanding musicianship. Such is life in the world of Prince, things change pretty fast. This gig was recorded at First Avenue, between Controversy and 1999 tours, and yet it doesn’t really sound like either one of those tours. Most of the material played here does not appear on either tour, and the band has a chance to play out and really jam on some songs. As I seem to say every week, this is one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to write about it.

-Please note, none of these photos are connected to the gig. They are just a few nice ones to give you something to look at between all the words.

8th March 1982, First Avenue, Minneapolis

I have listened to this gig so many times that I can recite the opening lines from the top of my head. After a brief prelude Prince opens the gig by telling the crowd that “This is not a concert, this is a dance, if you can dance to stuff, you’re a better man to me. The only reason we’re here is that there is no place else to go”. Bambi starts and it’s heavy right from the go. I know Bambi is always a heavy guitar driven song, but here it is even more so. The guitars’ don’t let up at all, even during the verses, and Princes vocals struggle to get out above the din. You can hear him fine, but the guitar noise and band are very rowdy and wild. There is a great heavy guitar chugging underneath and some wild guitars over the top. It definitely has a garage band feel to it, but a very talented garage band! Dez’s playing is excellent, as is Princes solos over the top. I have heard plenty of great versions of Bambi, but this one tops them all. It’s a fantastic way to start the gig, and already I feel breathless by the end of the first song. Prince does some guitar noodling after the bulk of the song, before the band enters for a final onslaught to finish.

prince 2

A steady beat, then the now familiar keyboard run of All The Critics love You In New York begins. Prince intones “This is a new song, probably won’t be out for another year or six” The steady beat goes on for a very long time before Prince begins to sing, and in that time there is some grinding guitar flashes. The sound is, obviously, much more heavier than on record, and it has a darker feel to it. The guitar is much dirtier sounding, and much louder. Prince is not as restrained as he sounds on record, especially as he sings “look out all you hippies, you aren’t as sharp as me” But mostly the song isn’t about the vocals, it’s very much a guitar song, with plenty of guitar played over the beat. It sounds great, and I can only wish that I could have been there. The guitars pull back for a moments, and Prince asks Dr Fink if he wants to solo. He duly obliges while Dez calls for a drink. The keyboard solo is fast, yet delicate. Sounds very good and clean. Prince then asks Dez, “Did you get your drink?” Dez responds yes and Prince asks does he want to play, then with a yell “Let him outta of his cage!” Dez plays a fantastic solo. Completely different from what Prince would come up with, it has a heavy rock sound about it. Its short, but very rock orientated. The guitars stay low for a bit, and the song sounds much more like what it does on album. The song only lasts another minute or two after this before it ends with a synth howl.

Keeping in tone with the evening so far, the next song is a guitar heavy When You Were Mine. There is more lead guitar on this then we normally hear, and it’s an interesting arrangement. The rhythm guitar sound that normally drives it is absent, and instead some long mournful notes on the lead guitar replace it. It’s still as upbeat as ever, but it does have a more rock sound to it. Dr Finks solo is more familiar territory, and after this the more familiar rhythm guitar we are used to returns. There is a break, with just Prince on his guitar and the crowd clapping, and he stretches it out for a couple of minutes like this. I like it here, when he sings a few lines, then knocks out the rhythm for a bit while the crowd clap along. The band all jump in back in for the final verse before it all races to the finish.

Prince

After thanking the crowd “Give yourself a hand, that was some mean clapping” Prince and the band get funky with Sexy Dancer. It’s a welcome break from the guitar noise of the first few songs. I love guitar, but I also enjoy the variation that Prince gives us. Sexy dancer is full sounding, propelled along by the bass and drum, but there is plenty of playing over the top. Again Dr Fink plays a great solo, and it’s really stretched out, he plays for a couple of minutes on it. It’s very enjoyable, and as I so often do, I find myself in admiration of the skills of the good Doctor. Dez follows up with a restrained but loud solo. It’s in complete contrast to the solo that Dr Fink plays, and yet complements the song well. The song ends with a Dez solo, and there is a pause in the action.

Prince tells the crowd he wants to play a slow song if they want to go get a drink. He calls for Sue Ann, and then plays Still Waiting. The recording still has a garage band sound to it, which doesn’t really suit this song. However Princes vocals sound very good, especially harmonizing with Sue Ann on the chorus. It’s in the quieter more delicate moments of the gig that the limitations of recordings like this are exposed. The song itself is very good, as we have come to expect from Prince, but I would want to hear a better recording of it. There is some very nice vocal work from Prince here, and some great interplay between him and the backing singers, especially in the breakdown. There is one weird vocal ad-lib from Prince, when he tells the crowd ‘I got cause to celebrate, because my girlfriend died” I didn’t notice it for years, but I can’t help but to hear it this time. Sue Ann gets a moment to sing solo, and she is remarkable good. She’s not the most distinctive singer I have ever heard, but she is nice and strong. Prince responds with some of his shrieking and screaming before the song comes to an end.

Prince 4

There is a pause, and then the band plays a heavy and slightly quicker version of Head. It’s not as dirty or nasty as I have heard elsewhere, but the guitars are nice and strong, and I do enjoy the grittiness of this recording. Prince lets the crowd sing a lot of it, choosing to sing every other line himself. The recording doesn’t pick up the crowd singing very well, but if I had have been there you would definitely of heard me! After the first verse there isn’t much singing, mostly a lot of keyboard, solos and groove. It’s not a bad thing at all, and I like it very much in this way. Prince picks up the mic for some more singing, but again he only sings every other line, letting the crowd fill in the spaces. Dr Finks solo is excellent as always before the music pulls back for a breakdown. There is some very enthusiastic singing of head from the crowd, as always, and then some nice funk guitar from the band. It then descends into the usual guitar solo and keyboard sounds that we have heard so many times before.

A couple of beats and Prince calls “Read my lips, Sexuality”. Things really take off here, the beat jumps up, and after several screams from the man himself the bass and scratch guitar jump in. It’s played fast, and the drums and bass provided a great energy. This song is a favorite of mine, and it’s a shame there is not more live recordings of it out there. As with the other songs, the sound is very full, and all the instruments are battling to be heard. The six band members sure do make a big noise! The bulk of the song is over before I know it, it was fast and furious throughout. The band all pull out, except Bobby Z, and Prince sings Sexuality as the crowd claps along. The crowd then takes up the singing of sexuality, while Prince takes a break. This section goes for as long as the main song itself, and it sounds as if the crowd is having a great time. Prince finishes by singing “Never let it be said, white folk ain’t got no soul”.

Prince 1

Prince tells the crowd that they are going to take a break, and then the Time plays a couple of songs. The recording covers the bands changing over, and it takes some minutes, with plenty of banter while it happens. Especially funny to me is when Prince tell the crowd “We share the same management, and they say they gotta play too”

The first song they play is Dance to The Beat. It’s up tempo, and fun, but it comes and goes before I can properly register it. It does sound like it would have been good to be there, but on the recording it doesn’t do much for me.

Much better is The Stick. The bass and the keyboards have a deep groove and the over all sound is something I really enjoy. This is The Time that I like the most. Jimmy Jam and Jesse both solo, before Morris calls for a mirror. The classic Time that we all know and love is in full effect.

The song ends, and Prince asks Morris if he can still play the drums. Once again there is plenty of banter, as Morris moves to the drums and Prince is running things again. They then play an enthusiastic version of party up. The band sound nice and loose, as does Princes singing. Again, it’s a sense of fun that I get when I listen to this recording. Prince calls for a break down and the band find a nice groove while the crowd begins to clap along. Prince tells the crowd “Give the drummer some” and then Morris plays a drum break. It’s not overly cohesive, but it does fit with the fun of the gig. Brownmark brings things back with some nice bass playing, and then Lisa puts some nice rhythmic keyboard work over top. There is then some really fantastic sounding guitar solo played over the top but to my great disappointment the recording fades out here and ends.

Prince 3

This was one of the first recordings I ever brought, and I have listened to it many times over the years. In more recent years better releases of the same gig have appeared, and this has greatly added to my enjoyment of it. As I said earlier, I love the garage band sound of this, and the loose feel of the band. All The Critics Love You In New York is a standout for me, as is Sexuality. I was one very happy man at the end of listening to this.

Take care
Hamish

Capitol Theatre, Passaic

I am very excited about today’s recording. I am going to be listening to Prince playing Passaic in 1982. What is really getting me excited though is I am watching this on a proshot DVD. Prince shows from this era are always very intense and enjoyable to listen to, but being able to see it as well as hear it adds so much more to the experience. I love the music, but I want to see the performance, see the dancing, see the funk face, see the band, see the moves, see the interaction on stage, see the audience reaction. Today I get all of that-let’s go!

30 January 1982, Capitol Theatre, Passaic

The show opens, as they did on this tour, with the sounds of Second Coming while the stage is in darkness. A soulful a capella number, it acts as a nice counterbalance for what is to follow.

Prince Capitol Theatre

The band explodes after this with a very fast drum roll from Bobby Z, and plenty of Prince “Awws”. The first song is Uptown, which I suppose could be taken as Princes agenda at the time. The band have a raw sound, and with Dez on guitar a real rock presence. Asides from Prince, Dez seems to be the focus of a lot of what is happening on stage, and it’s great to see the interaction between him and Prince.

Prince Capitol Theatre (2)

Why You Wanna Treat Me So bad has an introduction that seems to ramp up the energy levels in the building. The crowd can be seen hands in the air right from the go. The song pulls back, and Prince delivers the first verse, looking dead cool in his trench coat. The chorus sees Prince hamming it up with the crowd, pulling faces to the side of the stage. He seems to be putting a lot into this performance, puling faces, and eyes at the crowd one moment, then closing his eyes and singing passionately the next. The guitar break is the highlight of the song, and sees plenty of play back and forth with Prince and Dez. The playing is great, and as he starts playing Prince gives an expression that says he knows how good he, and he’s about to kill it. Prince dominates this song with his playing and its just as good as anything else I have heard on the tour, but Dez and Brownmark aren’t forgotten- they move plenty around the stage, and they make themselves heard on the recording. The song ends with Prince playing guitar and accompanying himself on the keyboard, it’s hard to describe but he does do it- playing his guitar one handed, before band come on board for a final crash and the finale of the song.

Prince Capitol Theatre (4)

The nice electronic sounds of the keyboards introduce the next song, I Wanna Be Your Lover. It’s always a favorite of mine, and here is a very good version, the crowd is clearly enjoying it too. Prince loses his trench coat and guitar for it, and gives a nice performance. The song only lasts a few minutes, but Prince works the stage very well, giving plenty of attention to everyone. I have heard heavier more energetic versions, but this one isn’t bad. I was expecting the latter part to be played out longer, but there is only a minute of groove before Prince picks up his guitar and the band segue into Head.

Head sounds suitably nasty right from the start. The drums seem a little quieter compared to other recordings from the tour, but the sound of the band playing this great. It’s particularly good to hear Lisa’s vocals are nice and clear on here. There are plenty of cheers from the crowd, they are obviously enjoying it as much as I am. Do I need to mention Dr Finks solo? You know I love it! It’s so good to be able to watch him bobbing and twitching as he plays. Right after the solo, there is break down and Prince encourages the crowd to sing a long. It doesn’t take much, they are more than happy to yell “head!” The best is yet to come, and there is another break down and some great bass sound from Brownmark. Then over just the bass and cymbals Prince indulges in some very good guitar work. Not fast at all, but very loud and clear. The song then lives up to its name, and Prince his reputation, when he engages in some very sexual acts with his guitar. It sounds crass, but I love it, and I know that this is why the teenage me became a fan. The guitar sound here is sometime whiny, sometime rhythmic, and yet always interesting. Although it goes for sometime, I just don’t have the words to describe it. But watching this was the highlight of the whole DVD for me. It ends with an orgasm, both visually and sonically.

Prince Capitol Theatre (5)

Dirty Mind is bounces along very nicely. I really like the sound of Dez’s guitar on this one, nice and rhythmic. Watching it, it’s apparently the Bobby Z is putting a lot into his playing, and really seems to be pounding the drums. Prince too is giving it plenty and can clearly be seen sweating. There is a lot of motion, but the music is always first, and it sounds just as good as it does on record. Prince plays a little keyboard himself, which is always great to see. There is an interlude mid song, but its not as long or drawn out as I like, nor does it have the intensity I have heard elsewhere.

Prince Capitol Theatre (6)

The more I write about these shows, the more I fall in love with some songs. Do Me Baby is one of those songs. It’s gone from being a song that I like, to being a song I love. There is a nice introduction to it on this recording, and Dez plays some very nice guitar with Prince looking over his shoulder. The song is a great show case for Prince, and his vocal delivery is fantastic. I love every minute on this recording. His shrieks and yells are what really make it for me, and they sound crystal clear. The spoken parts really get the ladies in the crowd excited, but it doesn’t do anything for me. The song ends with him shirtless and sweaty, and the crowds are lapping it up. It’s not really my sort of thing, but I must admit he’s in pretty good shape!

Prince Capitol Theatre (7)

Prince dons the trench coat again as the throb of Controversy begins. The band play faithfully to what is heard on record, but that’s no bad thing, the song is pretty well perfect to me already. Brownmark gets plenty of shine on this one, and it’s nice to see him get some spotlight and play. Prince is back on the guitar by now, and playing with plenty of vigor. Again his showmanship is outstanding, and the performance is mesmerizing. I have heard this song hundreds of times, but I find myself watching this performance transfixed. The crowd is apparently enjoying it just as much as I am, there is a lot of very energetic dancing to be seen, and people loosing themselves in the music. For a bit I think the song may turn into a long jam, but it finishes up in good time.

Prince Capitol Theatre (8)

Lets Works begins with Prince dancing on the raised section of the stage before sliding down his fireman’s pole to deliver the opening lines. The trench coat is gone now, and the gig seems to change gear somewhat. The song gives Prince plenty of opportunities to dance, and he dutifully obliges. At this stage he was no great dancer, and often he looks like he is doing calisthenics rather than dancing, but he is passionate about it, and the music does seem to genuinely move him. The song is played for fun, and the band seem to enjoy playing this one. The crowd obviously picks up on this vibe, and there is plenty of dancing and singing along from them also. There is a fun moment mid song when Dez sings lets work several times from the central microphone before Prince pushes him aside to take up the singing. The song ends in darkness as Prince says thank you and good night.

Prince Capitol Theatre (9)

Half a minute of chanting “we want Prince” and the lights come back on. Prince delivers a sly “Do you want some more” and the band career into Jack U Off. For me Jack U Off was a quirky little song, that didn’t quite seem to fit on Controversy, but here in the live setting, it is brilliant. Prince doesn’t play guitar, all the furious playing is coming from Dez. . Dez sounded impressive on the recording, but seeing him play – he is even more so. Prince himself seems to love singing this one, he has a big grin on his face throughout the song. The song is very short, as it is on the album, but there is a lot happening in those couple of minutes. I love seeing the interaction between the band, and the end of this is great, Prince gives five to a couple of people in the crowd, before heading over the Dez for some more skin. Then he is back to the mic for his “If anyone asks you, who you belong to?” He has such a big grin by now, and the crowd yells and screams his name. A final crescendo, Prince waves bye and the show comes to an end..

Prince Capitol Theatre (10)

My final thoughts on the recording are very short. I loved it from the first second until to last. Not very objective, I know, but that’s the truth. I have heard plenty Controversy recordings where the energy and intensity could be heard in the music, but in the show that energy and intensity can be seen in all aspects of the show. As far as Controversy shows go, this one is a must have.

Take care
-Hamish

Party Like It’s 1999

I love early recordings of Prince. Although the set lists aren’t as varied, he more than makes up for it with the ferocity and passion when he plays. The performances aren’t as polished, and there is a rawness that connects with me. Today I am listening to a gig from the 1999 era, an era that I don’t have many recordings from. He is just playing to larger and larger audience, but still has that excitement of his early days.

1999-7

10 February 1983, Providence

 

The show opens with the slowed down voice from the intro of 1999. “Don’t worry I won’t hurt you, I only want you to have some fun” I fully expected to hear the band launch into 1999, but instead a fast bass drum begins, and very soon the funky guitar of Controversy starts. As I say every time, this is the sound that I adore. Already I love this recording. It sounds big and bold, and when the keyboards and rest of the band jump in it sounds very strong. The keyboards are very loud, and then Prince hits us with his first “Awwww!” I can’t hear Prince singing, he seems very quiet, the keyboard and guitar drown him out, but you can hear him just fine when he sings the chorus and when he talks directly to the crowd “all together now!” He sounds very rock n roll, especially when he say “Welcome to 1999, I believe in Love” before singing the “I wish we all were nude” section

1999-6

Let’s Work follows next, as seems to be very common during Controversy and 1999 tours. These songs are often paired together. Prince announces the song by asking the crowd “Is everybody ready to work, is everybody ready to work?” This song didn’t used to be a favorite for me back in the 1980’s, but now it is one that I really like. The performance here is excellent. It has some really great keyboard lines. Dez plays a strong guitar solo, and this is followed by a quirky little keyboard run. It’s really fun, and like I say, very enjoyable to listen to. Princes’ singing seems irrelevant here, it’s all in the music.

199-9

There is a pause to catch my breath after this, and then the lovely saturated keyboard sound of Do Me Baby begins. The keyboards pull back, and there is some beautiful little guitar played. It sounds great, and is obviously going over well with the crowd judging by the screams. The intro is long, but I could have listened to it for much more. I have always loved the piano in this song, and this recording is no different, it’s a nice sharpness against the lushness of the synth. For a long time this was in my top 10 ballads, but only just. Now it’s right up there in top 5. This was the first time that Prince totally nailed the seduction ballad, and I still listen to it to this day. The bass has a deep rubber band sound that I enjoy, and it just sounds classic in every way. Prince unleashes some shrieks that sound just as good as they do on the album, and there is a bang just after the last one which I guess is a mic drop; I can almost picture it in my head now. I must check out some concert videos from this period, I don’t give them nearly as much love as they deserve.

The last notes of it fade and the bass and distinctive keyboard of DMSR begins. There is quite a cheer from the crowd, it’s obviously a fan favorite. I am really enjoying this set list. I am a huge fan of 1999 and Controversy and this gig is chock full of many of my all time classics. The guitar and bass interplay here is fantastic. The song is played faster than on album, and it actually sounds better. I certainly would have been up and dancing if I had of been there. The best part in the song for me is when Jill Jones screams “Arrrghhhhh, somebody call the police!!” I wish I could see what’s happening at this stage, it sounds awesome! I find myself laughing when Prince sings “all the white people clap your hands on the 2 and 4 now”, always a favorite line of mine.

1999-9

There is then a shimmery keyboard interlude which I assume is played by Lisa. It’s not too long, but is a nice transition into the next part of the show.Now days I am a little worn out by Princes keyboard sequences and medleys, but at this stage of his career it was still new and interesting and his keyboard section shows off his talent, but isn’t boring, nor too over the top. There is a brief intro as he warms up on the keyboard, and I then expect him to play How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore, but instead he serves up a blinding version of Still Waiting. I very rarely listen to this song, which is a shame, because his performance of it here is excellent. I am not prepared to say it’s the highlight, but it’s definitely a peak in the show.Then he plays How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore as you would expect, and it’s not a short version as he is playing nowadays, but the full version which we love. The midsection has some great screams with plenty of echo effect on them, and the crowd’s responds with plenty of screams themselves. The rest of the band quietly enters as Prince begins his spoken piece about how she won’t call him. “Have you another man, is he fine, does he have an ass like mine”. I have heard it all before but its still good fun. This is the Prince I want to see more of, when he’s playing with a sense of humor. “I have another woman, she’s a nurse” I actually laughed when he said this. Of course he ends it with “Don’t you want my tootsie roll” :-)Lady Cab Driver begins with street noise and Prince saying he’s outta here – Taxi! Jill Jones sings a lot in this song, in fact at the beginning I can’t hear Prince much at all. I have got a lot of love for Jill Jones, some of my best Prince moments are songs she is involved with. Lady Cab Driver is my favorite song from the 1999 album, so this is easily my best song of the night. There is a guitar solo, with a great tone. I am not sure who plays it, built it’s a definite highlight for me. Unfortunately the song is not played out long like we hear on the album, its ends much too soon as the band segues into Little Red Corvette.

1999-4

I like the versions of Little Red Corvette where there is a minute of keyboard swells before the song begins. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those versions, the band launch into almost straight away. It is the hit at the time, so I expected that Prince would milk it for all its worth, but the version here is very truncated, it ends just one chorus after the guitar solo, and is only two minutes. It’s very surprising indeed.

1999-1

I have said many times before that Dirty Mind is a firm favorite, and here once again it is a knock out. It begins with Prince saying slowly and with an effect on his voice “I….don’t……want….to……hurt you baby, I only want to lay you down”. From then on it’s all on as the band attack it at full throttle. And that’s just how I like it! It’s very fast, and it all go go go. Its one of those songs that seems to have energy from within that bursts out. There is no let up or break in it at all. Only a 5 second pause mid-song but apart from that it’s ragged and frantic. Prince sings “All, alright” but it’s not a sing-along, things are hammering along too fast for that. The song climaxes in an all in crescendo and I can finally breathe again.There is then a break, the show is very short, and we await the encore. The crowd chants “We want Prince!” After a minute we hear a woman’s voice “Fasten your seat belts, prepare for take off”. I think I know what’s coming now.International Lover is quite a title to live up, but Prince has made a fair effort at it all his career. The song on album sounds a little flat to me, but here it seems to have much more life to it. Prince himself sounds impassioned as he sings, and the band give it some strength in the live setting. I was wondering how the long seduction scene with the aircraft analogy would work, but it actually sounds alright. I can only imagine what he is doing during the long keyboard break, luckily there is just enough to keep me interested.

1999-3

After the final words “welcome to satisfaction” the band immediately start playing 1999. Being the hit and the title of the album I thought the crowd would have acknowledged it more, but they are fairly subdued. Or maybe I am reading too much into the recording, after all it is a recording of the band, not the crowd. 1999 is played standard; again it doesn’t stray from the script. There is some good funky guitar near the end, but asides from that nothing about it really grabs me. That’s not a bad thing, I really liked it, but there was nothing out of the ordinary about it. Actually after singing ‘Mommy, why does everybody have a bomb” there is some nice guitar work, and a long keyboard and guitar build up to a final explosion that ends the gig.

1999-8

My overall feelings about this gig are mixed. I enjoyed it very much, and listen to it a lot. Some parts of it may seem a little dowdy or uninteresting, but I can’t fault the performance or the recording. As a fan of this era I was always going to be a big supporter of this recording. It’s an excellent record of the time as Prince was just crossing over to a larger audience. All in all, excellent.Next post will be something from the nineties; I have been too much wallowing in early 1980’s nostalgia.

Take care
Hamish