Glam Slam, Yokohama 1992

I am currently in Tokyo for a month visiting my wife’s friends and family. To celebrate this fact (and to avoid going shopping), the next few weeks I will take a listen to some of Prince’s live recordings from Japan. Today I will start with an unusual concert from Yokohama in 1992. It is an one off show at the Glamslam club, but what makes it unusual is  the setlist that is a standard run through of songs that we would expect at an arena show. This is an audience recording, with a slight distortion just perceivable, yet I like it for the songs, and the general vibe of the show. There is a great feel to the performance that lets me temporarily forget the sound quality.

6th April, 1992. Glam Slam, Yokohama, Japan

I didn’t expect much when I saw “Daddy Pop” listed on the packaging as the first song, and the feeling doesn’t change as the quality of the recording is revealed in the opening seconds. However, it is a bright and breezy performance that wins both me and the audience over. Rosie is monumental, but there is much more to this song than just her. The band is playing with an easy touch that has the song flying along, and with the crowd lending their infectious voices to the song it most definitely has a joyous vibe.

There is no cherry on top, but there is “Cream” and it envelops the club and bootleg, Prince at his very smoothest as the band flow through the performance. There is no sharpness, or jagged edges, just the constant forward movement provided by the buttery guitar line, and Princes sticky-sweet vocals. It is easy on the ear, and I am completely prepared to over look Tony M’s barking that comes loud across the recording. It ends with the syrupy guitar line that has carried most of the song, and I am satisfied with this sweet treat coming so early in the performance.

Rosie puts her cards on the table with “Chain Of Fools,” and comes up trumps with an ace performance. I didn’t fully appreciate Rosie when I was young, but I do now and her vocals early in the song are the exact reason I rate her as highly as I do. Strong, yet warm and inviting, it is hard to resist her sumptuous voice, and I am drawn in from the start. She does step aside as the song becomes a jam, the horns and guitar providing lines that keep the song on track with their train-like rhythm. Taking this song with the previous “Cream,” the concert already rates highly in my opinion, and we are only three songs in.

There are only two minutes of “Let’s Go Crazy,” but it is two minutes too many for me. It is during this song that the limitations of the recording are readily apparent, the guitar distorting at times, and a incessant  buzz.  It is equally jarring to hear “Let’s Go Crazy” in this company, after several smooth funk songs (and one straight after) it feels wedged it and detracts from the show rather than adding anything to it.

The smooth funk I alluded to returns with a greasy sounding “Kiss.” With the guitar line sounding almost like “Sexy M.F.” it has a classic funk sound, and is all the better for it. It may not be one for the purists but there is no denying the funk of it, and with the horns adding just a tinge of brassiness I rate it highly.

I like “Jughead” (I never thought I would write that) because it opens with a verse from “Dead On It.” The rest of the song I could take or leave (mostly leave). Tony M is quite forceful in his delivery, which tends to drown out everyone else. However, Rosie holds her own with the moments she is given, and as always it is the slippery rhythm guitar that I am really attracted to. I have to admit, I do enjoy Prince’s rap – for no reason other than I guess it’s one of those days.

The band is back in the groove for “I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get it Girl). Much like many of the other songs at this performance, it is smooth funk jam. I have heard this song at several other concerts, and this one is different from those in it’s easy long groove. There is very little singing as the band ride the rhythm from start to finish, unswerving in their dedication to the funk. There may be a couple of solos, but never once does the attention waver from the underlying feel and rhythm.

I could say the same about “Call The Law,” if not for Tony M’s heavy delivery. Rosie matches him for power with her vocals, but it is the guitar that steals the show with an burst early on that makes any vocal work irrelevant. Again, the recording is less than stellar, only the guitar stands proud among the swampy sounds of the verses. I do like the funky intentions of the band, sadly let down by the recording, and shaded by a guitar player who stands head and shoulders above all those around him.

There is a lot of swing to be heard in “Kansas City.” I have heard Boni Boyer sing this plenty of times, but for my money Rosie Gaines does just as good a job. The recording isn’t quite good enough to contain her, there is a slight distortion on her vocals as she is at her strongest, she is just too powerful for an audience recording.

The highlight of the bootleg for me isn’t all these funk tunes, but the divine “Do Me, Baby.” After listening to Prince seduction ballads for thirty plus years, I have come to the irrefutable conclusion that this is his finest. In my opinion, and it may well be an unpopular opinion, it eclipses even “Adore.” This recording is much more sympathetic to a softer song like this, and Levi’s guitar lines are just as emotive as the vocal performance by Prince. I find myself writing every week that “Do Me, Baby,” is the highlight of whatever show I am writing about, and I’m going to say it again about this concert. It towers over all the funk jams, making them lightweight in its solemn and earnest delivery. It is yet another outstanding rendition of one of Prince’s masterpieces.

I want “Gett Off” to finish the show like a punch to face, and although all the key elements are in place it lacks the killer blow that I desire. Prince’s gutsy guitar line elicits squeals of delight from the crowd, but this is the only moment where the song sounds dangerous and edgy. The rest of the song drifts along, even the drum beat sounds half hearted and weak. It is still likable, but it never threatens to reach the heights of the songs earlier in the evening.

So ends this curio from 1992. I wouldn’t recommend it based on the quality of the recording, but I would definitely recommend it based on the songs and the performance. It is a great funk workout for most of the show, and I think it nicely captures what this band was about, and lays down some of the groundwork for what will follow in the next couple of years.  Avoid if you’re a soundboard snob, otherwise I would say give it a listen.

Thanks for reading, I better go be a tourist for a couple of hours

Glam Slam 27th June 1994

The years 1994 and 1995 are already well covered in this blog, some might go so far as to say they are over represented. With many of the setlists being similar, one may question why these concerts get so much coverage. It is true that the same music is heard again and again, but Prince and the band are discovering new sounds and textures, and with each song played as an extended version there is plenty of scope for surprising jams to be heard. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the performance on June 26th 1994. While researching the concert I read the Databank’s assessment that the show on the 27th was even better, and one of the best bootlegs of the era circulating. Which brings me to where I am today, headphones on, 4DF’s ‘Acknowledge Me’ in the player and I am all set to take a closer listen to what the Databank calls “one of the best of 1994”

27th June, 1994. Glam Slam Los Angeles

“The Star Spangled Banner” is the first song of the night, with its strong and forceful guitar tone Prince is making a clear signal of intent, the guitar will dominant early on. “The Ride” backs this up as it goes from it steady opening into a blazing solo that captures the listeners imagination even 20 years after the fact. Sometimes I find “The Ride” to be a plod, here it is anything but as the band turn it into a stonking celebration of Prince and his guitar abilities. As an opening number it slaps the faces of the audience, immediately snapping them into life.

Likewise, “The Jam” has a extra sense of energy and thrill to it. The recording is good at this stage, and the audience noise that is heard adds to the sense of the moment rather than detract from it. It all adds up to a version that I find I enjoy immensely, often I find I am waiting for “The Jam” to finish so we can get on to the other music, in this case I enjoy it just as much as anything else on the bootleg.

The first few songs have been good, but it is the following “Shhh” that makes this bootleg what it is. It is a sublime performance of a one of Prince most intense songs, the following minutes transport me to another world altogether. Princes vocals are spellbinding, and the guitar break is both haunting and incessantly angry at the same time. These eight minutes are the best of the recording and enough for me to recommend it to anyone.

I don’t think I have ever heard a bad version of “Days Of Wild”, and the performance here doesn’t break that winning streak. It is in its full head bobbing, heavy funk glory. However, it is the guitar break of Prince that has me grinning from ear to ear – it is sharp and forceful, cutting through the wild jungle of “Days Of Wild” like a flashing machete. The appendage of “Hair” is unnecessary in this performance, Prince has plenty of his own funk without having to dip his pen in someone else’s ink well. This is further highlighted when the bassline of “777-9311” suddenly appears, Princes own funk obliterating any memory of “Hair”

“Now” runs at a lengthy 13 minutes, turning into a long easy groove and jam. The second half is much more enjoyable, the band has a smooth way to them and the song flows easily from the speakers. Its is an easy groove that could go for hours, and even though not a lot seems to be happening it is still worth the listen. Especially catching is the chant of “Clap you hands somebody, somebody clap your hands”, which will be rattling around in my head for the rest of the day.

The next song is a live rarity. “Ripopgodazippa” was only played twice live, this performance is the second and last time. It doesn’t do anything more than is heard on the studio version, but it doesn’t have to as its seductive groove makes it another outstanding moment at this concert. Smoky and sexy, the late night groove fits perfectly in the setlist, and I can only wish that Prince had of played it more often. Again, it heightens the desirability of this bootleg and is another must listen.

Equally of the era is “Acknowledge Me”, from the opening notes it takes us directly back to 1994. The is a lively performance that stands up well to the other songs that have already appeared at the show, it doesn’t outshine anything else, but neither does it fade into the background. It’s a highly enjoyable moment that sets the baseline standard for the concert.

The following two songs are from the “Come” album and work as a nice pairing together. “Papa” is noisier than expected, it loses some of its message, but the music is undeniably good and carries the day. “Race” is a steady performance of a steady song.  It never catches fire at the concert, or on the recording, and although these run of songs are very good, this part of the show plateaus.

“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” restores the crowd’s enthusiasm and Prince’s performance gets a welcome cheer. The song is faultless and injects pop into a show that is otherwise a succession of funk jams. Its appearance is bright and the recording becomes energized again.

I would love to see the band get wild for “Get Wild”. It does sound like they are going all out,and even listening at home I can visualize what is happening on stage. The long jam keeps me interested, the bass and guitar parts hold me enraptured between the chanting and singing. My favorite moment though belongs to Tommy Barbarella who plays a fast and furious solo that bucks like a wild horse under his command. Every member makes an impression, and this is one of my favorite versions of “Get Wild” in circulation. This bootleg is rapidly approaching a 10/10.

That sentiment carries over to “Santana Medley” that comes next. I thought everything else so far had been great, but Prince finds a way to take the concert through the stratosphere with an epic rendition of the “Santana Medley” This is the moment where the recording almost spontaneously bursts into flames as Prince plays a soulful, yet furious guitar break. It continues to evolve and a couple of times Prince slips back into the shadows before reemerging with another solo that could strip paint from the walls. I listen intently as it spirals and turns, the world rotating around Prince for the minutes that he plays.

“Billy Jack Bitch” is a direct statement and one of the least veiled songs Prince has ever written. Prince takes on the media head on in a none too subtle attack on those that write about him. The live performance is not as venomous as the studio recording and some of Prince’s anger is dissipated by the music, in particular the swirling keyboards that provide a depth and backdrop to Prince’s sharp lyrics. It lives up to some of the other funkier moments in the concert and the final horn stabs drive the point home with a timeless funk sound.

The last song of the show is “Johnny”. Princes rap is much more relaxed, perhaps due to the recording, or perhaps reflecting his mood at this concert. The lyrics may be dated and nowhere as funny as they were at the time, yet the song still stands on its own two feet – especially as Prince’s guitar emerges from the groove with a snake charming solo that has me hanging on every note. The keyboard solo later in the song is every bit its equal and its easy to disappear into the groove and music at this point.  It is entirely fitting that the show ends with the crowd chanting “NPG” – this is very much a band performance and this final song sees them at their very finest.

This is a great release, in a year that is well covered by bootlegs, this one stands out. The quality of the recording is outstanding for an audience recording, but it is the show itself that garners the most praise. These songs are familiar to all Prince fans, and have been heard plenty of times over the years, yet here they are infused with an extra sparkle and energy. I can’t account for why that might be, all I know is that the show sounds fantastic and this is exactly the sort of bootlegs that ignites my passion. 10/10


Glam Slam West 1994

I have already covered a few shows from 1994, yet I still find myself drawn to the year again and again. With Prince playing with a looseness and freshness, the concerts of this era always sound lively when listening, even if the setlists are often very similar. The concert I am listening to today comes from a recommendation from someone who was there. It was apparently quite a night and even though the setlist doesn’t reveal anything too surprising, the performance is outstanding: there is a guest appearance by Stevie Wonder and Mavis Staples that makes the recording compulsory listening. Both add soul and link Prince back to the past, cementing his place on Mt Olympics with the other music gods. With plenty of twists and turns in the music, there is plenty to appreciate with a closer listen, but like everyone, it’s these guest appearances that are the real reason I want to hear this.

26th June 1994, Glam Slam, Los Angeles

I am immediately surprised by the opening “The Jam”. A song that I often find pedestrian and overly long, in this case it is upbeat and captures my attention from the start. This is helped in large part by Morris Haynes who is first to play and gives us a solo in his typical style. The song moves quickly, no one person plays too long, and with a Michael Bland drum solo appearing midsong I find the recording has an early momentum to it. The final Sonny T bass solo isn’t anything I haven’t heard before, but it does bring the song to a stomping finish.

I have heard “I Believe In You” across a variety of concerts and the version played at this concert is one of the more memorable versions I have heard. The opening minutes don’t offer much, it is once Prince turns his guitar up that the song becomes something much more muscular and forceful. He plays with finesse rather than a fury, something that demonstrates his ability far more than a flurry of notes would. Without overworking the guitar, Prince’s break elevates the song and adds a backbone to a song that was previously meandering.

As “Interactive” begins I am transported back to 1994 and the Interactive video game in an instant. Such is the power of music to bring back memories. The version at this show doesn’t begin strongly, it is the second part of the song where all the thrills and excitement await. Prince’s guitar leads the way, with a minute of incisive and sharp playing that leaves me dizzy. It may be only a minute, but it is a thrilling ride showing Prince at his best.

“Days Of Wild” is a 13 minute jam the encapsulates all that was good and great about Prince and the NPG in 1994. The band jam easily across the song, the insistent funk staying to the fore as they throw a variety of sounds over the top of it. The heavy squelch holds the bottom, something that I usually enjoy most, but in this case there is so much else happening I find I hardly notice it. Prince is in fine form, joking with the band as he runs them through their paces. The bass playing late in the song is the definite highlight – firstly a light solo that has me swooning here at home, then switching to “777-9311”, at which point I almost faint in child-like excitement. The song is a 10 in my book, and by the time the guitar comes with waves of bluster and bravado I am considering scoring it an 11.

As an album track “Now” is neither here nor there. Live, however, it is another great moment, and like the preceding “Days Of Wild”, it gets a 13 minute jam. As an all-in performance the song becomes a glorious live celebration, the crowd can be heard chanting a whooping in appreciation throughout. I particularly like the breakdown midsong, as the music slows and the long groove of Morris Hayes carries the song for some minutes. The song continues as a laid back groove for quite sometime, even with Prince on the microphone and guitar it still doesn’t ignite back into a song again until well past the ten minute mark. As Prince sings “Superstitious” the music stays low, his lone guitar signalling the end of the song.

Prince’s guitar stays the main focus with “Mary Don’t You Weep”. He plays a sparkling opening before the lyrics begin, and then as the music changes he returns with a further cascade of guitar. The crowd contribute their part as Prince leads then through a chorus, before the keyboards come on board with a solo from Tommy that is easy on the ear. The response from Prince is great, some mellow and melodic guitar work that displays an intricacy and emotional core. It is his guitar that carries the song to its natural conclusion, flowing easily until it dries up.

“The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” is mature in it’s sound, it lacks some sparkle of the single release, yet this mustang mix is far more rewarding and holds up well on repeated listening. It is a complete performance, Prince is playing well within the band and to my ears it is more complete and well rounded. The song is marinated in a funky adult rhythm that hints to the growth of Prince at this time and new directions he is pursuing. The is no doubt though that the real highlight comes in the final minutes as Prince calls for Stevie Wonder to come to the stage, preparing us for what comes next.

There is some mutual love between the two as Stevie Wonder opens up on the microphone about the influence of Prince and all those that came before, thus providing context where Prince’s music fits into the big picture. The following song is anything that you might expect or wish for. There is plenty of Stevie’s singing as they play “Maybe Your baby”, plenty of funky keyboards, and plenty of Prince’s hot guitar playing. He doesn’t mess around with a smoldering solo here, it is all furnace and fire as he puts an exclamation point on all that Stevie provides. This moment of the bootleg promised the world, and boy did it deliver.

The high standard is maintained for the following “I’ll Take You There” with Mavis Staples leading from the front. As far as I’m concerned, this is the definitive version with Mavis’s vocals, Princes guitar and the bass of Sonny T playing up a storm together. Mavis stands head and shoulders above all else though, and her contribution can’t be underestimated. I thought the appearance of Stevie was mind blowing, Mavis comes a very close second and almost upstages him.

“Dark” comes as a smooth ride after this, it would be a let down if it wasn’t just so easy and enjoyable to listen to.  Prince again becomes the main focus of the show as the music swirls and stabs around him, not quite concrete enough to latch onto yet the stabs providing a sharpness that gives the song some shape. It may not as monumental as some of the other performances on the recording, but I find it just as satisfying.

The song does become an upbeat instrumental which, although four minutes long, serves as an introduction for “Get Wild”. It does flicker and flame for sometime before Prince calls for Mayte and “Get Wild” kicks off in high gear. It’s not terribly interesting musically, as is his way Prince uses most of the song to engage with the audience, encouraging them to sing the chorus and get wild themselves. It sounds like a lot of fun, but on the bootleg it is a flat spot.

The show ends with a raw “Peach”, introduced by the comment “This is a cover version of a song by someone called Prince”.  Its fast, full and frenzied. Prince’s guitar is wonderfully dirty and leaves very little space for anything else in the song, exactly as it should be. Peach can get repetitive, but this performance is one of the better ones and it is a bright ending to what has been an excellent concert.

This recording delivered everything it promised. As to be expected, the guest appearances were phenomenal and the rest of the show was just as spirited. There are plenty of great bootlegs from the 1994 concerts, this one would be very high on my recommendations list. I am thankful that it was recommended to me and I would happily recommend it to anyone else.


Thanks again

Glam Slam MPLS 1994

There have been a rash of great recordings popping up in the last couple of months, and I am spoilt for choice when I want to hear something new. I was unsure which one I should listen to this week, and in the end I chose this recording from 1994. I mostly chose it before I have been listening to quite a lot from the 1990’s recently, and this seemed to fit nicely. Last week was the glamour and show of a Diamonds and Pearls show, this recording is a couple of years later, and completely different in many ways. In the two years in between a great deal has changed in Prince’s world. It’s a small early morning show from the Glam Slam club in Minneapolis, and show cases the strength of Prince and the band musically. All the key elements of a great show are there, and as a nice bonus it’s a soundboard recording.

29th May 1994 (am) Glam Slam, Minneapolis

Things start very well indeed with a heavy insistent riff from Prince and his guitar. The scene is well and truly set as the bass and keyboard coming it, and it has a full blooded raw sound which I always like. This cover version of Sly Stones Sex Machine is well chosen, and for those fans of Princes guitar work there is plenty to enjoy and admire. He warms to his work, slow and steady with plenty of groove. It certainly has that aftershow vibe about it, the guitar moves in and out as the music swirls around it.

Prince 1994b

We don’t move too far from the Sly Stone sound, as next the band plays It’s Alright by Graham Central Station. I know this song very well now, having heard Prince play it many times over the years, what makes this version good is that it is the first time that Prince and the band played it live. There is a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the performance, and Prince sounds quite young in places. I can feel this rubbing off on me, and as I listen I feel uplifted. It is truncated, but thankfully it’s not part of a medley, the band just fades it out after a couple of minutes.

Listening to New Power Soul next, I am thinking here’s a song I don’t recall hearing live before. It seems I was right, this is the only live performance of it. At first it fails to excite me, that is until a crisp bouncy guitar appears midsong, and there is plenty of interesting things to listen to from here on in. Prince mentions Poor Goo, the song doesn’t eventuate, he’s just talking. Morris Hayes on the keys sounds good, I would like to have him further forward in the mix though. Asides from that it’s a nice performance, and a cool oddity to have thrown in mid-set.

I saw Dolphin on the setlist and I had my hopes up. Unfortunately we don’t get a full performance, instead Prince sings the first verse before bringing it to a halt and telling us “sorry, we can’t do that, it’s private” Again, it’s the first public airing of a song, and although it was little more than an intro, it is another tease and clue to what’s going on in Prince’s world at the time.

Prince 1994

I always associate The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (Mustang Mix) with this band configuration. Played this way it’s a perfect fit with their style and it works extremely well in this club setting. It has a slow burning sound to it, and I think this is heightened by Morris Hayes playing. Some of the glitter and sparkle is taken from the song, and we have here a darker, warmer groove. Twenty years ago I didn’t get it, now I do and it’s a firm favourite.

Things get funky when the band start on a 15-minute version of Get Wild. It’s slow to start, then builds into a big groove. The best part is when we get to the breakdown in the middle of the song, first there is there is a solo from Brian Gallagher that leaps out at me, it’s got plenty of life to it, then Prince breaks it down before the chorus and groove return with a vengeance. The horn section adds a lot to the show at this stage, there’s plenty of stabs and swells as the band and crowd chant. The horns add some brightness to the groove and emphasis the main riff, giving it a real lift.

Prince 1994a

I am very pleased to hear Billy Jack Bitch next. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am a fan. It does sound flat in places here, energy wise, luckily the horns and the chorus bring it right back up.  There is a pause midsong, when it comes back it is heavy with the horns and organ, and it’s this part of the song that I dig most. Prince yells “release date never” which gives some insight to where he was in his battle to release material at that stage.

The show goes out on a high with a performance of Days Of Wild. The start is particularly good, with Prince sing a capella for the first minute before the power of the band come in behind him. The lyrics are crystal clear, this sound board recording is great for highlighting his vocals, and the lyrics are fun. There is nothing new as they groove into Hair, although the song does seem to lose it momentum, only to gear up again into the heavy grind of Days Of Wild a minute later. It is Michael B and his drumming that carries us through to the end of the song, with the crowd heard chanting “Go Michael”, a fitting end to the show.

Prince Slave

Although short, this show was well worth a listen. The fact that it was a beautiful sounding soundboard added a lot to a show that looked somewhat short on paper. It was in fact a very nice document of a show from the string of shows such as this that he played in 1994. I will be playing it for the next few weeks in my car, and really I can’t give it a higher recommendation than that.

Thanks again, have a great week

Glam Slam

This entry had a very long gestation period. I initially listened to the recording, and I loved it from the start. It comes from the most interesting period of Princes career. I then looked further and found that I also had a copy of this gig on DVD, so I decided to write as I watched it. Unfortunately the first time I watched it I got awfully distracted by Mayte and her hot pants (I am, after all, a red blooded male), and found that I wrote not a single word as I watched it. I watched it again, and then once more just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Someone pointed out to me the other week, that this stage of Prince’s career he was reborn, and was an entirely new artist. It really did seem as if Prince was dead. He played nothing from his back catalogue, only concentrating on the music he created under the symbol name. And the music itself was fierce, the pop songs were gone (with the notable exception of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World) and the focus was on funk, with a capital F. Many people compare Michael Jackson to an alien sent to live among us, but watching this I was struck by the thought, that it was this reborn Prince that was the alien. His freakish look, and funk fuelled music wiped any thoughts of the 80’s global superstar from my mind. Watching this DVD the comparison that was upper most in my mind was Parliament-Funkadelic, with his look, sound and style.

This period was my wilderness years, at this stage it was hard to follow him and what he was doing. There was a huge amount of new music, but not a lot of it was available. I walked away for a few years, and only came back on board with Rainbow Children (that’s a long walk, I know) But now, I look back and think “What, I must of been crazy!” This was the most interesting part of the trip, and the music is some of the best he ever made. I must have been mad not to pay closer attention. Recordings from this era are some of my absolute favorites, and I wonder how I didn’t ‘get it’ earlier.

This recording is another birthday gig, June 7 1994. The one year birthday of The Artist formally known as Prince. Played at the Glam Slam club in Miami, and live simulcast to the Glam Slam in Minneapolis and L.A, it’s ambitious and funky. Prince looks to be having a great time, and the funk is hot. Hold on to your wigs, we’re going in!

7 June 1994, Glam Slam, Miami Beach

The show opens with the roar of guitar as Prince slays us with the opening riff of Endorphin machine. A roar from the crowd, and a scream from Prince, and in a blaze of lights and lasers it all on. Old Prince is definitely dead, The Artist looks like he has a second lease on life and the energy of the music reflects this. The band and music is rowdy, and yet incredibly focused. Prince is playing with fire in his belly once more. With his elfin hair style and pale face he tears it up right from the start. Obviously the song is lacking the annoying cowbell from the recorded version that followed later (I’m putting my line in the sand now about where I stand on the cowbell). The keyboard has a great whammy loose sound to it, and stands up well to the guitar.

Slave 1
How did I not love Space right from the start? Space played here is beautiful. I hear his vocal so well here, and it’s very soothing and inviting. Tommy Barbarella plays piano all over this one, and the song itself has a space about it. With Tommy wearing a big furry hat, the keyboard draped in the US flag, and Mayte dancing, the whole thing very much has a Parliment/funkadelic feel to it. Prince comes in with some stinging guitar near the end and closes of the song nicely. Even after it’s finished I find myself singing “space, space, space”

Prince takes the time to talk to the crowd, and acknowledges that it is his birthday, and then lets them know that he is one year old, following his life changes of the last year. I thought he was going to say more about the whole drama, but he chooses to let his music speak, and they play Interactive. Interactive feels a little light and throw away, but is saved somewhat by Princes guitar solo. The song feels short, and I think the gig loses momentum.

“Hold on to your wigs” and we all know what’s next. Days of Wild was his theme song at this time, and for me captures exactly what he was about in the name change era – all funk and attitude, especially the attitude. The attitude is in his flow, and in the music. The bass sounding so heavy and squashy here, there is a lot about this I love. Like most, I love it when he picks up the bass guitar and works it for a bit. The song is long and drawn out as you might expect, and the band rumble on as Mayte presents Prince with a cake mid song – with a single candle I might add. Plenty of Prince on the bass, and Mayte shaking it, the song is as much a visual experience as an aural one.

Glam Slam 3

A brief pause and then Now introduces itself with Prince imploring the crowd “Jump up and down South Beach” I have a love/hate relationship with Now, but at the end of the day its a fun song. He sings it with a lot of character in his voice, and every verse comes at us with a fair dose of personality. One of the things I enjoy about Prince is not just the quality of his singing, but also the personality and character he injects into his singing. Technically he is very good, but also he has a lot of himself in it too. There is plenty of nice organ grooves to enjoy in this song, and the drummer also gets a moment and a shout out. There is a moment of Prince humor when he asks the crowd “How many of you got babies, take care or they will turn out like me” There is also a couple of funny moments when Mayte stage dives into the crowd- not very lady like at all!. There is some very fine squeaky guitar from Prince, seriously, and the song fades out with Prince and the crowd singing “Ain’t no party like a new power party” The song stops with “On the one, you in the house”

Glam Slam 2

A nice beat and organ chords slowly bring us into the relaxed Mustang mix of The Most Beautiful Girl In the World. Yeah, it’s a favorite of mine. It has a more music to it than the single that hit the charts. The single was all about the melody and Prince, where this version has a couple of layers that I enjoy to. There’s not a huge amount more, but I prefer it. It seems strange to me that this was his big hit, when at the time it wasn’t really representative of where he was at musically. This live version takes its time, and there is a very long fade out. The main song finishes but the music continues with Prince singing and talking. It’s well worth a listen. He sings about taking his time, and it the overall vibe is very sensual rather than sexual. .

There is a pause in the music as Prince checks on the other Glam Slams in the simulcasts. It’s fine at the time, but it breaks the mood and flow for us watching at home. Plenty of live technical problems as they try to hook up to LA, a lot of “Can you hear me, can you hear me?” It was uncomfortable listening on CD, but a little better when I could see Nona Gaye on the DVD, if you know what I mean.

There is more pointless chitchat, and Prince tells Sonny to “play something, but I don’t want it to sound like a bass” There is some playing, and then Prince begins slowly jamming on the guitar. Then things take a bluesy turn and the band plays The Ride. Prince asks if it’s a blues crowd, and for the lights to be turned blue. Prince sings “if you like it fast, I can’t help ya, if you like it slow, I got days” As you might imagine it is very laid back before it gets hotter with a typically Prince guitar break that gets better with repeated listens. Take it from someone who knows! The song does indeed feel like days as the last few minutes are just the slow groove as Prince toys with the crowd and has them singing “Ooooooo, ooooooo” over and over.

As is common for this period, Prince talks of his battle with Warner brothers between songs, and reminds the crowd that it’s all about the music. He doesn’t dwell on it too long here, and moves on to talking about his time in the city.

Prince tells the crowd that the next song was written by Sonny, and it’s a slow mellow song, and then as he puts his bass playing to the fore they play Get Wild. The bass playing is solid during the verses, but it’s between that Prince steps back and shows us what he’s got. He certainly looks like he is having a lot of fun, it’s a shame he doesn’t play bass more often in main shows. As you might expect there is plenty of time for Mayte to do her dancing, and for most of the song it seems like there is just Mayte, Prince and Sonny having fun together. The casual chat and fun between them is very natural and is reflected in the nice relaxed groove of the song. I get the feeling that despite his troubles, Prince was extremely happy and comfortable about now.

The next song begins, but Prince says he’s got “more presents, I stop for more presents” The beat continues and Prince goes on to say “I got funk that’ll kill ya”, and I based on what we have heard so far, I fully believe it. Acknowledge me has a nice long funk intro and I enjoyed it even more when I watched the DVD and saw the dancers. Whoa!

Glam Slam 4

If you asked me to name my favorite Prince songs, Acknowledge me would never be one that springs to mind, but listening to it here it hits all my sweet spots. Maybe because he makes it all sound so effortless I don’t rate it as highly as I should. But it really is a good song, and this performance does it justice. Unfortunately the song is a little ruined for me, when the breakdown comes and the MC encourages the crowd to sing Happy Birthday. It’s not the gesture I dislike, it’s her whiny voice and forced delivery. Thankfully after an awkward couple minutes Prince comes back on the mic and things instantly pick up. Sure, he’s rapping, but anything is better than the last minute. Despite criticism of his rapping ability, I actually like his little rap here. Then things really slip into the Parliament-Funkadelic realm with a long distorted vocal ramble by Mr Hayes.

The pace quickens again with Race. Sharing the mic with Mayte for the chorus it’s actually pretty good. Like all songs it quickly moves beyond the recorded version we are familiar with and into a danceable groove and jam. I practically like it when Prince moves to the keyboards and with his head, shaking plays for a couple of minutes. Then with the briefest of “thanks, we out” the song ends. It feels short, but again clocks in at seven minutes.

There is another interlude with MCs wishing Prince happy birthday (or should I say the artist). It’s something I could do without, and thanks to modern technology I can easily make it vanish and move onto the next jam, which is just that, a jam. It sounded good on CD, with every band member getting an intro and a moment to play their thing, and on DVD was the added bonus of seeing Mayte shaking her thing, something I missed on the CD! Again the chemistry of the band is very apparent, and they feel like gang.

The pace changes again with the show closing with Shhh. Its not a song I would choose to end a show with, but that in no way detracts from the song itself. It’s played smooth and sexy, and even the jarring line about “I’d rather do you after school like some homework” slips by me without too much bother. Prince serves a nice clean guitar break mid-song, but it’s his final guitar solo that get pulses raised, the classic Prince wailing guitar. I think I prefer the earlier guitar break, but that’s just me being contrary. Hold that thought, I just watched it again, and I love the second guitar break just as much. The song finishes, and the show itself with Prince thanking the crowd and telling them they are always welcome “My house is your house”.

Glam Slam 1

It’s very difficult to condense my thoughts about this one. This stage of his career is just extraordinary by any measure. The creativity in not just his music, but every aspect of his life rivals, and indeed in some cases, exceeds anything he did in the Eighties. This gig is an excellent snapshot of that, and although I didn’t truly appreciate it at the time, I certainly do now. I am reluctant to call anything essential in the Prince canon, but to better understand what he is all about, this is a must listen.

As the man himself might say -Peace and be wild