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

Koko Rocks

This weeks recording -I am going to take a gamble with this one. Todays recording is not a favorite, much loved recording, but instead a recent one which I have never heard before. Today I will be taking a listen to Prince playing at Koko London from last week. Before I have even heard a note, I already have mixed feelings about this one. At first glance there are a couple of positives and also a couple of negatives. Firstly the negatives – it is a audience recording, and a greatest hit show to boot. I am not a great fan of either. On the plus side – it is a smaller venue, and also a recent show, so it will be something new to my ears and I won’t have any preconceptions about it. The other thing about it which is making me curious is the songs from Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue as they say. So, lets drop the needle and see what we got

February 2nd, 2015 Koko London

Prince Koko 4

As the recording begins you can actually hear the anticipation as the audience awaits the music to start. The opening chords of Purple Rain is greeted with plenty of cheers and squeals as you might expect. The recording is actually not too bad- I can hear everything I need to hear. The crowd is all onboard right from the start and you can hear them singing along line for line. Prince himself sounds fairly relaxed, there is no intensity to his singing, and the whole vibe comes across as casual and happy. His guitar sound early on sounds like this may be a pretty rocking gig. It was just after I thought this that I can hear some audience members talking, which instantly takes me out of the song. Soon enough Prince and the band get a little louder and more raw and I am happy again. Throughout I can hear his guitar sound nice and deep and I hold my breath as I wait for the solo. And, it’s a good one! All the usual elements are there, as well as some nice deviations by Prince. Nothing too off the chart, but it does have a good rocking sound to it. The crowd is well in the mood for “ahhh, ahhh, ahhh” but Prince closes them down soon enough. The reprise is short, there is a minute of crowd singing before Prince brings it to an end with his guitar. We are off to a good start.

Prince tells the crowd that they are going to play 14 hits in a row and the band start the grind of the modern take of Lets Go Crazy. I am not always the greatest fan of this one, but I haven’t listened to any 3rdeyegirl recordings for a while, and it’s not the chore that I sometimes find it is. It sounds like its going across well tonight, and I enjoy the guitar divergence midsong. It adds a little lightness to a song that sometimes sounds bogged down in its modern incarnation. The band sound tighter than some of the other shows I have listened to, and looking at it I guess they have been together quite a while now. They have certainly lasted longer than I expected, and full credit to them. My only quibble would be that perhaps the song lasts a minute longer than my attention span does, but as always that’s my problem rather than a recording problem.

Take Me With U takes me by surprise with its nice fresh sound. There is a nice guitar sound at the beginning that is playing what was originally a keyboard on record. It’s only a small thing, but it has me listening right from the start. The song is nicely balanced, and although the guitar leads it, it still feels light and has a pop shine to it. Liv’s singing is very good, and it’s nice to hear her adding to the fullness of the song. I should have tired of this song years ago, but today it’s still getting me moving in my chair.

And joy of joys, the next song isn’t Raspberry Beret! Instead we are treated to a solid performance of U Got The Look. Sure I have been critical of this in recent blog posts, but again on the recording it’s a nice crisp performance. Both the guitars have a clean but heavy sound, and I can clearly hear what they are playing. It’s a change from some other performances where the guitar is lost in muddy sound or distortion. Liv can once again be heard doing her thing, and I admire her voice for standing up against all the guitar sound. For a minute I thought it was going to degenerate into a guitarfest, but the band quickly moves into Funknroll, much to the delight of the crowd I might add.

Prince live at Koko, London.

It’s very cool, and as usual I like the live performance of it much more than the album recording. The band really own this one and it’s very obvious that this is one song that they all buy into, and belong on. The breakdown and Princes guitar sounds like a lot of fun, and gets plenty of shouts from the crowd. It sounds very much like a good time, and I can only imagine what it would have been like to be there. I think cool is the word that suits this song tonight, and Prince plays us out with some more cool guitar playing.

I have tried to avoid using the word funky too much when writing this blog, but I can’t help but use it for the beginning of Controversy. 3rdEyeGirl strike me as being a very unfunky band, the opening guitar rhythm is right on the money. They don’t let up as the song kicks off properly, and this stripped down band takes me right back to the original sound in the eighties. I have to be honest, I was even clapping in the air at one point. The crowd are feeling funky too, with a chant of “Ow wee ow” starting mid song. Prince comments “I see you all come to jam tonight” before singing controversy. There is then some very fun call and response between Prince and the audience, they can’t quite match his squeals and sounds, but they more than make up for it with volume when he says “now somebody scream!” The song ends, and I find myself thinking this was the best version of this song I have heard for ages.

The timeless intro of 1999 moves us right along, and I can feel the smallness of the venue and the vibe of the band. It’s very heavy on bass, with everything else floating along over the top. Prince sounds like he is having as much fun as the crowd and I marvel at his ability to play at such a level still after all these years. An average gig by Prince is still better than 90% of everyone else’s, and this gig is far from average. They more than do the song justice, and like all the best versions I can hear plenty of Princes guitar in the mix.

Staying with the 1999 album, next song up is Little Red Corvette. It’s played in his modern ‘slow down style’ but its not as drawn out and emotional at the start as other times I have heard. It’s slightly let down by crowd noise in places, and although Princes voice isn’t always clear, his guitar certainly is. After 30 years I still feel a rush as he plays the guitar solo, before pulling it back and taking it down a notch to his slow hand guitar, and eventual “slow down” refrain. There is a lovely moment before his slow down lines, where he emotionally sings about “I know what I want, I want you” The crowd gentle sings “slow down” in the background while Prince delivers his lines. For me it was a surprising highlight, and I find myself totally in the moment. Mindfulness with Prince, who would have thought. The song continues to offer surprises as it ends with Prince and the women of the audience singing “oohhh oohh ”

Prince Koko 3

It gets even better when Prince sings Nothing Compares 2 U over a bare keyboard. In my mind this is the way it should always sound. The band joins after the first verse, but the song still holds its emotion, and Prince ups his delivery when the drums and bass enter. I have to say, I was a little worried when he says “on the guitar, Donna”, but her solo is pitched just right, and is kept nice and short. Prince comes back with plenty more character in his voice, and the crowd carries us home. It’s short, but all done in the best possible taste, and like all good things leaves me wanting more.

I love this version of Kiss. Anyone who has read any of these blog posts knows that this is quite a statement from me, I am what they call “a hater” when it comes to this song. But here on this recording I find it very appealing. It has some interesting keyboard running through it, and is seriously lacking its distinctive guitar signature. Although not a fan of the song, I have always liked its guitar sound, so for him to drop it out, and I find I like it even more, I am very surprised. That same guitar sound returns in the second half of the song, and it’s nice and strong. I could just listen to that rhythm all day. If you want to hear a different take on a classic, I recommend you bend your ear to this. The band jam on it a little later in the song, and its all good to me.

I am not very familiar with Paloma Faith, but Princes cover of her song Only Love Can Hurt Like This is just divine, and Liv gets a chance to do what she does best on it too. Gentle at the start with some beautiful singing during the verses, the chorus skyrockets when Liv gets her lungs right behind it. As an unfamiliar song to me, this will certainly be one that I will be revisiting. There is some very decent lead guitar in the latter part of the song, but it’s Liv that holds it all down, and the second half is very much her voice versus the power of Princes guitar. Princes guitar wins out, but I am never going to complain about that. I would like to hear a better recording of this one, and maybe a better mix from the desk, but it is definitely a cover with potential and I’d like to hear more of it.

Prince Koko 2

Prince then asks for the lights to be turned off with the comment “it’s not a country and western show” and that brings a smile to my face. That smile gets even bigger when I hear the opening of Doves Cry. Although not a pristine recording, it’s good enough when the music is this good. After a few bars the music stops and the leaves the crowd singing. Yes, it is the dreaded sampler set. But tonight Prince plays this one pretty straight and I am pleasantly surprised as we get four minutes of the song played in the form I know and love. There is some interaction between Prince and the crowd, with a few “owww owwws” from both.

I wait with baited breath as Sign Of The Times begins. Will this be cut short, or will I get a good chunk of the song? Thankfully it’s the latter, and there’s also some meaty guitar work in there for me to enjoy. It’s not particularly sharp, but it is suitable grime and has a heaviness to it. Once again the crowd is in good voice, and Hannah on the drums gets a good work out near the end of the song. On a better quality recording this would be a standout.

Hot Thing get the familiar sampler set treatment, as Prince teases us at the start, before delivering the song proper. It’s got a nice groove to it, but the beat is slightly weaker. Prince pushes it out forcefully in compensation, and both me and the audience enjoy it. I am happy to see this one get a real play rather than a sampler tease, and by the end I wish it was longer.

One if my all time favorites is next with the big sound of Love Bizarre. I would just seconds from leaping to my feet and dancing, but instead I am bitterly disappointed when it ends after just 40 seconds of intro. Such a lost opportunity, I think it would have gone down a storm.

The sampler tease continues as the music of Darling Nikki is played next. There is no way in the world he was ever going to sing it, and as we all expect it ends after 30 seconds.

Pop Life has me back on board, although it’s played very short at least we get a verse and a chorus. A classic pop song, it’s impossible to hear this without feeling some sort of joy. I find myself singing along loudly with it, and I am sure my neighbors are thankful when it quickly ends.

I Would Die 4 U sounds upbeat and fits with this ‘pop’ section of the gig. I would have loved to hear a little more of it, but Prince ends it after the first chorus with a simple “Thank you so much, good night”

It is of course another tease, and immediately the beat of Forever In My Life begins. This is no tease, and Prince takes his time with the intro, before singing the words we all know so well. I mouth the words rather than sing along, I don’t want to miss a note of this. Prince sounds great and I find myself inwardly moaning again that this isn’t a soundboard recording. The arrangement played here somewhat resembles the one that appears on Sign Of The Times movie, and there is plenty of time for the crowd to sing along with “alright, alright”. The only thing missing is Boni Boyer singing the house down, but we are nicely compensated by Prince providing some bass lines. A very electric sound cuts through the vibe as we near the end, but the mood is restored by some great singing by Prince, and the audience doing their best to emulate him.

Prince  Koko 1

I’m not sure this is the band for Housequake, but in the sampler set they seem to get away with it. My ears aren’t sharp enough to tell you who is playing what, but it all comes together alright. Not the funkiest version in the world, but the sampler provides the kickin beat while Prince keeps the energy levels high. Ida gets a moment on her bass, and this is probably the high point of the song for me. Donna also plays a brief solo, but I find it takes me out of the song, and I am pleased they don’t play on it too much longer. They hold it together long enough to get through it, but I fear it may unravel after another minute.

Oh WOW, was my first thought as they begin U Know. Its sounds like its going to be fantastic, but Prince says “You’ll cant have that” and I know we aren’t going to get too much more. Sure enough it ends before it even starts. There are a few boos to be heard from the crowd, and I can fully understand their feelings… I am quietly booing here at home. You can’t always get what you want.

I feel similarly cheated when he plays only the intro to Gold Standard. It’s good to see he isn’t biased, both old and new songs get the short shrift, but I would have liked to have seen a little more faith in the newer songs, especially the ones that get an obvious reaction from the crowd.

If I Was Your Girlfriend gets the same shabby treatment, it’s barely worth mentioning here for the time we hear it. I barely register it before it ends.

Normal service resumes with a loud, slightly heavy rendition of Guitar. Prince’s voice on the recording comes across as a little muffled, but the guitar is the real star of this one. Its sounds great not only during the verses, but also when the solos start. Of course this suits Donna very well, and her solo is on point throughout. I am even happier when Prince adds his guitar to the mix later in the song. At this stage I find the recording slightly uneven, but there is not a huge dip in quality. Once again Prince wishes the crowd “Good night” before bringing us right into Plectrumelectrum.

I like the song well enough, but it just sounds a touch labored here. It has plenty of rock flourishes, but they do sound heavy handed to my ears. Of course I am listening too carefully to it, and I find that once I close my eyes and go with the sound it’s much more enjoyable. To me it sounds like a good rehearsal song rather than a song that got a proper release. I have no real problem with the song, but it does out stay its welcome by a minute or two.

Prince begins again by saying “I would like to dedicate this to a friend of mine”. There is a brief moment while he gets the stage sound right, before a gentle intro to breakdown. My favorite song on the Art Official Album, when I saw this on the setlist I was immediately very excited to hear it. I was not disappointed in the slightest. Sure, the recording isn’t the greatest, but I can still hear that Princes voice is note perfect. The song sounds a little lighter in the live setting, it seems to be lacking some gravitas, but I can’t quite pin point what it is that’s missing. Maybe it’s the fact that I can hear the audience talking during several segments of the song. But there is enough there for me to love every moment, and when the guitar enters it adds just a shade more emotion. Very good song, and on a better recording it would have been excellent.

It’s followed up by a fantastic intro to Whats My Name. I love that this is getting an airing. There are better renditions of this song out there, I enjoy hearing this one but its not top shelf. A lot of the crowd sound somewhat disinterested, and the again it does affect the quality of the recording and listening experience. All the pieces are there, but it’s not as strong as I would like. This song could be much more muscular and beefed up, it’s a shame it’s not at its full potential here. Things get better when the guitars are in full flight, buts its not quite there.

Stratus is sometimes great, and sometimes not so great. I know its purpose is to show off the different band members talents, but some times I just don’t feel it. This is one of those occasions. Donna’s first solo is nice enough (the fact I used the word nice rather than something else should tell you enough) but by midway through the keys I find I am beginning to tune out. Things are better in the second half, a little more heavy sounding and some good bass and drum. And surprisingly to my mind it’s enough to save the song. By the time it finishes I am pretty happy with what I have heard.

The opening chords of Sometimes It Snows In April fills me with joy, and as Prince sings the opening lines I am off to my happy place. But sadly he ends it after the first couple of lines, and the guitars jump in with Dreamer.

This band is well suited to Dreamer, and even though I was disappointed about Sometime It Snows In April, I am very happy with Dreamer and its performance here. The guitar playing is less pedestrian and the band sound like they are energized once again. The song is saturated in guitar solos and all of them are sounding good. After the solos ease back, there is some nice heavy guitar work that sounds good, before Prince sings the title a few more times. The song ends just after this, and despite clocking in at almost seven minutes it still feels like a shorter song, the energy kept me in it throughout.

Lets Work caught me off guard, with its heavy intro. I am much more comfortable once its classic groove takes up the song proper. Late into the show now, and yet Princes voice still sounds fresh and he does a nice impersonation of his younger self. The bass playing on this is excellent, and I find myself grooving along to it nicely. I didn’t expect this band to play it so well, but it is very good.

I am further surprised when 3rdeyegirl take on Cool, and they make a good job of it. Liv takes on a lot of the load here, especially when she first starts to sing Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough. It does sound a lot like other renditions we have heard in last few years, but that’s not a complaint at all. The first half of the song is all Liv singing Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough, before Prince sings Cool proper in the second part of the song. This is very much a crowd pleasing song, and there sounds like a lot of fun is being had when Prince gets them singing. There is a coupe of cool moments when Prince gets the crowd to soul clap and I am instantly transported to his 1980’s hay day. The song ends with the classic Prince “Las Vegasss!”

So all in all a very fun gig. The setlist and performance are good without being great. The recording is as one would expect for an audience recording, its fine- it’s far from being terrible, but there were moments when I found myself wishing for a soundboard. This is not an essential must listen, but you have access to it then it’s a fun couple of hours.

Next week we will stay with the London theme and I will take a look at a gig that is very close to my heart.
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

3rdeyegirl Rock Birmingham

Last week we went way back to 1981, this week something a little more recent- a 3rdeyegirl gig. I know what you are thinking, oh no another rock guitar based gig. It’s not on purpose, I promise! Next week I will make it up to you with a funk gig. To be honest I randomly choose this one as it was on top of my pile of recently listened gigs. Next week something to make you move, this week…

 May 15  2014, 3rdeyegirl, Birmingham

First of all I would like to thank and give praise to all tapers of gigs. Without your efforts and generosity we would never have access to gigs like this. In this case I would like to thank Spangleman who taped this one. Thanks.

Again, another audience recording. But things have really changed in recent years, with more sophisticated equipment and more thought put into the set up there are some really good audience recordings floating around. Although still not perfect by any means, they are still a vast improvement on what used to be.

This recording is pretty good, the band and Prince are clear though out, and there is not talking through the gig, which sometimes surfaces on recordings like this. There is one recording in particular, and I can’t quite remember what one it is, where through one song members of the audience can be heard talking about skiing. I can’t remember the song, but the chat is very distracting. Thankfully there is nothing like that in this recording.

PrinceBirmingham

The gig opens with Funknroll. It’s an interesting choice to open with, not being well known at the time. Although the song itself is good enough, it doesn’t quite have that show opening feel to it. It doesn’t have that energy or surprise of a good opener. 3rdeyegirl are known for being a very rock orientated unit, but it this case they barely rock at all. Nothing wrong with the playing, but the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

From there they kick into Take Me With U. The crowd seems more receptive, something well known to the general public and casual fans. But still it seems here to miss the pop and snap of the album version. Everything feels a little damp and slow. Prince throws in a couple of his catch phrases “I wish someone would sing” and “Put the house lights up”, but he’s just going through the motions at this point. So far its ‘Prince by numbers’ Being a guitar based rock outfit I would have loved to hear them give this song the long guitar heavy Purple rain video version, with Princes extended guitar solo, but they play well within themselves, and play it safe. It could have been so much more.

As is his way for the last 10 years he segues straight into Raspberry beret. Absolutely no surprise there! It’s predictable, but it raises a cheer from the crowd. The version here is played very straight, and it’s a little boring. But maybe I am just biased; to be honest I have never heard a live version of this that I like.

U Got The Look fails to take off too, its surprisingly unrocky apart from a couple of chunky guitar bursts. Maybe it’s the recording, or maybe the band. But the guitar sound isn’t really there like I expected it to be. I like what Prince has down with a lot of his songs recently, in his reinterpreting them live, but I feel the concept could have been pushed further. With this band he could have turned this song into something else. Or maybe I am too predictable with my Rock band = Rock songs.

The following song is Musicology, and although I am a fan of the song, in this case I found it a little uneven; it is up and down throughout. Maybe its missing the full band, but I feel it’s never really gets into the groove. Over all, the first half a dozen songs seem a insipid, it’s definitely a slow start to the gig. There is some nice light guitar playing by Prince near the end of the song, reminiscent of the soft solo he plays on the Hohner at the start of Purple Rain Syrcause 1985. I like this guitar sound and playing, I would buy an albums worth if I could.

Kiss is very different. The familiar jangle guitar is absent, its heavy on bass and synth. Its the singing that really carries it. Its an odd little version, and I can’t decide if I like it or not. This one will take multiple listens. Prince throws in his line “Desperate housewives” but that’s starting to get a little tired now. Prince – you need to watch some more recent TV. The song ends as a good sing-a-long for the crowd, so I guess it serves its purpose.

I wonder how many of the crowd recognizes Empty Room. The crowd is very quiet as it begins, and I am not sure if they are being respectful, or they just don’t know it. The drumming pulls me in, and when Prince sings it sounds like he is beginning to engage. Finally it feels like he is putting more of himself into this gig. This song has really grown on me recently and I enjoyed this version. Prince vocals sound stronger and near the end he unleashes a couple of decent shrieks, and guitar work. The gig has finally started!

I used to like Lets Go Crazy(reloaded) but I feel a bit over it now. Often it is a little pedestrian for my taste. Tonight it sounds good, I think it would have been better if I was actually there (I could say that for every song!) To be there with the guitar and bass rumbling through you would be a much more visceral experience. The strong electric sound of the guitar at three minute thirty caught my attention. Sounded very electric and buzzy.

Prince finishes the song by announcing “sound check is over”, and I couldn’t agree more. From here on in, we are into it!

PrinceBirmingham

After a very brief guitar interlude the band kicks into She’s Always In My Hair. For me this song has always sounded better live. It’s not so crisp and sharp as it sounds on the record, and to my ears it’s more emotional in the live form like this. I can’t help but think of the Digital Underground “Sex Packets” as Prince plays the main riff. To my mind this is the best sample ever used by a hip-hop group, and even now I can’t dissociate the two songs from each other. The band play a nice heavy version of She’s Always In My Hair, Princes solo is a good rock solo, and the band are finally playing a song that really suits their sound and style. Just as Prince sounds like this solo is going to spin right out, he pulls it back into the song and gives it that great Prince sound.

The breakdown of the song is a highlight, the twinkling guitar reminiscent of some of my favorite rock songs over the years. Prince sings his lines “Maybe I’ll marry her, maybe I won’t” with such passion. He still feels this song, and I can’t help but have the same feeling. It just grabs me. I can totally feel it. It’s during this part of the song that the limitations of the audience recording can be heard. Its not as good as earlier songs. The crowd is behind Prince all the way as he finishes with call and response and another guitar solo.

I can’t help but wonder what casual fans make of this song? Do they know it’s a B-side? Do they walk out of the gig hoping it’s a new song that will be on the next album? One hopes they dig back into the catalogue and dig it out. I was once at a Smashing Pumpkins gig, and they did a cover of Girls Aloud “Call the shots” and for days after the gig I was wondering about the song, where it came from. I am sure there were more than a few causal fans wondering the same about She’s Always In My Hair.

At a gig where guitars are to the fore, it’s only natural that the next song is in fact Guitar. I see a theme emerging here! Guitar is played with a lot of energy, and sounds great. There’s not much to it as a song, but it comes across great live. This is what Take Me With you should have been played like, all energy and enthusiasm. Donna’s playing is more free and less heavy, and it actually sounds better for it.

Plectrum Electrum is not so fluid. It sounds like a song of two halves. It’s quite good, its played with no vocals, and the first half is better than the second half. The first half is more song and structure, while the second half becomes whining guitar.

Fixurlifeup sounds better than on record. Its short and sweet. It almost passes before I register it. A nice song, I would have liked to hear more of it.

The upbeat guitar songs end when Prince brings it all down with Something In The Water (Does Not Compute). I will be honest here, I am very biased. This is one of my favorite songs, I have always had a real soft spot for it. It opens just Prince and the piano, and it sounds just great. This is how I like to hear it played. The guitar and slow drums kick in and the song changes gear a little. It has a great melancholy sound that suits the theme of the song so well, and I can’t help but just wallow in it all. The guitar line is so simple and repetitive, it has a great hypnotic quality to it. Prince gives a few good shrieks and howls and plays a nice 3-4 minute solo to finish the song. The guitar has the classic Prince tone to it, and it closes out the song perfectly.

PrinceBirmingham

Another song that sounds better here than the studio recording is Pretzelbodylogic. Although I am not a fan of the song itself, so that’s not really adding much to it. Lots of these recent songs live are a slow heavy riff and a couple of solos. I am not such a fan of this one, there doesn’t seem to be much variety or texture. It’s missing something playful, or something deeper. Either direction would be better than the middle of the road.

Stratus I have heard plenty over the last years, mostly at aftershows. By now there is almost too much guitar at the gig, its lacking variety. 3rdeyegirl are good, but they need more color and variation.

What’s My Name is another song from the past which seems well suited for this band. I really enjoyed it here, I would like to hear it played more often. I think he could ratchet it right up and make it much more intense if he wanted.

There is respite from all the guitar heroics when Prince begins the piano set. The first song he plays is How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore. It still sounds fresh after all these years. The song stands on its own and shines. It still sounds as good as the day I first heard it.

After the opening song in the piano set I had high hopes, but Prince quickly turns it into a disappointing medley. Diamonds and Pearls gets 40 seconds (more than enough in my book) and then The Beautiful Ones managers to stretch out to a minute and a half. It’s very soft with his piano and voice very low, but it’s far too short and left me hungry for more.

Electric intercourse gets longer, which is good thing, but its lacks the emotion and power of the earlier performances over the years. One gets the feeling that Prince is just tinkling the keys and playing what comes to him.

The electric introduction to Controversy grabs my attention -I love the beginning of this version. The band is back on board now. Unfortunately it lacks the electro funk feel of the original for the rest of the song that I love so much. Its seven minutes, but after the first couple of minutes I am over it, and have a longing to hear the original. It outstays its welcome, and is one of the few songs where I wish it was a shorter version.

There is redemption with 1999. It’s not too bad at all, more like the original. The mood lightens up and it’s something fun that the crowd can enjoy. I hadn’t heard it for a while, so it was a nice surprise.

True to form Little Red Corvette is played in the slow mournful version that we have heard a lot of in the last 5 years. When he first unveiled this version I was an instant fan, although I have tired of it in the last couple of years. The novelty had worn off for me, but this performance got me back on board. I really liked this performance and I completely changed my mind. The sing-a-long section sounded great. It was a great way to close the main set.

Next the sampler set. Ugh, do I have to listen to it? As you can tell I am really not a fan of this. Every song is just a tease and makes me frustrated I can’t hear more. It’s like handing a TV remote to someone who skims through the channels. So infuriating!
The sampler starts off not so bad with When Doves Cry. This elicits a loud cheer of recognition from the crowd. Unfortunately we only get two short versus before he skips to the next song. I am thankful we got that much, but I would trade the whole sampler set just to hear a full version of one or two of these songs. This ends just as its getting good.

Sign Of The Times survives for one minute and two versus before it gets the chop. The whole sampler set is an exercise in frustration, I am trying not to rant, but it’s really a waste.

At 10 seconds is it even worth sampling Alphabet St? Grrrrr!

Forever in My Life suffers from sound issues. Apparently there were sound problems through out the gig, but only a few times in the recording is it apparent. During this song we can hear the distortion and I can only guess how it was there throughout the gig. The song itself is good, and he gets through it, but I long to one day hear the long version as played at the Trojan Horse gig. We all need a dream to cling to.

Although it’s only 2 minutes, Hot Thing sounds good. I particularly like the lyric change “Hot thing, barely 25, hot thing looking to come alive.” He has raised his standards! There is a nice moment half way through when he thanks the crowd for putting their phones away, he loves it when he can see their faces. It’s a nice sentiment. There is a fair amount of distortion here, not sure if its the recording the venue sound. I am guessing it’s the venues problem.

There is a very stop/start beginning to Housequake, and it actually suits the song. When he finally settles on the steady beat Prince sings in his classic funk voice, I can almost picture him pulling his funk face. It’s unfortunate that the song is again in a truncated form and it stops much too soon for my liking. I could have danced to this for much longer- two minutes is just not enough.

The next few songs are just tasters and teases, Nasty Girls gets barely 20 seconds, and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World gets one line.

Pop Life fares little better, we hear one full minute, enough time for one verse and one chorus. A disappointment for one of my favorite songs.

I would Die 4 U finishes the set with one minute, before Prince closes it with “Thank you all so much”

PRINCE-Birmingham (1)

I am much relieved when he plays Purple Rain as a full song with band. Although its very much overplayed (I think I have more than 200 versions of this song) its still good to hear it played in full here. Prince opens it with a longer intro as he speaks to the crowd and thanks them. I have heard many versions where he sings the first verse, a chorus and then skips to the guitar solo. Thankfully he doesn’t do that here, he plays it straight, and surprisingly it feels fresh because of that. It lasts the whole 9 minutes before he fades it down, and after the sampler set it feels much longer. Not that I am complaining at all.

If the gig had of ended here I would have been well satisfied. But there is an encore of Play That Funky Music that I could really do without. I am not sure why Prince is so enamored with this song, but for me it appears in his set lists far too often. For me this is the one track of the evening that I would skip over in an instant.
The gig has plenty of good things going for it, and despite my criticism I enjoyed the bulk of it. For every negative there was a positive, so all in all it balanced out. It was worth it just for Something In The Water, and Shes always In my hair. I feel the sampler set and some of the more mediocre songs let it down, but as most fans know, that is par for the course. It will never be the first recording I reach for when I want to hear something, but on the right day its a fair record of where Prince is at right now.

Next time we are going to look at something more funky. I am not sure what it will be yet, but I did see a tape kicking around the other day with “Chicken Grease” written on it, so that might be the one, if I can find some sort of machine to play it!

Thanks to everyone who has given feedback, and again thanks to all tapers of these shows.

Be a dear and share
-Hamish

A rocky start with the Stones

There are some recordings that are considered more important than others. Some capture a band in peak form playing on those magical nights when you can almost feel the intensity and the sweat running down the walls. Others are crystal clear quality, every element caught in near perfection for us to enjoy. And then there are other recordings, capturing not a just a performance, but a moment in time when something significant happens. A part of history.

This recording, though not perfect, is one of these moments.

October 11th 1981 – Prince opening for the Rolling Stones.

 

thorogoodstones

Like Michael Jordan being cut from his high school team, and then rising to complete domination of the NBA, the story of Prince being booed off opening for the Stones has now passed into part of his personal mythos, part of his struggle and his legend. Would his ascent to the throne a top of pop music in the 80’s been quite as spectacular without adversary and this misstep from 1981?

Much has been written about the two gigs when Prince opened for the Stones. I am sure it been well covered, how Prince was roundly booed on both occasions and pelted with trash. Whether or not he was booed off the stage on October 11th is debatable, he certainly left mid-set. But the band do seem to finish their set, although it is brief and not without incident.

Its not very often I listen to this recording, although of historical interest, its not really something I would choose to put on and listen to. But as it is significant I thought I would give a brief review.

Prince - Live at Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, 1981

As you see from the two pictures above, Prince wasn’t the only opening act that day. All three acts are recorded, J. Geils Band, and George Thorogood both have three songs each on the recording I have. I don’t know if those are their complete sets, but it does help to put Princes’ five songs in perspective.

Stones81

 

Okay, enough of this talk, I’m here for the music, lets take a listen!

Like any audience recording it takes a few seconds to adjust to the grubby sound. At first its just noise, then sure enough the opening riff to Bambi can be made out. The first thing that struck me is how muscular and strong it sounds. Prince and Dez guitars sound like they are really cranked, and there playing is dead on. Bambi has always been a strong rock song, but here it sounds like they are really pushing it. The other thing that stands out on the playing of this song for me is how well Brown Mark is playing. Its one of his first gigs with them, and in front of 94,000 people. I had read him saying how nervous he felt, and scared when the stuff started flying, but in this song his playing sounds very confident.

When Prince starts singing its not in his usual falsetto. And I’m surprised, but the song really sounds better for it. Maybe its my rock background, but when he sings in his lower register on Bambi it really gets me. This is how a great rock song should sound – not that I’m not a fan of it on record! The crowd don’t sound too hostile at this stage, they sound like any other crowd that are waiting in the hot sun for the support band to finish so they can see the main event- that is disinterested and slightly restless.

Next up is one of my favourites from the early days When You Were Mine. Dez addresses the audience (I think its Dez) during the intro, acknowledging that they are waiting for the Stones. At this point of the recording a couple of the audience can be heard chatting. One guy says something like “one more song and then..” the rest of his sentence is lost. I always wonder what he was about to say. “one more song and then they’re off” or “One more song and then I’ll get a beer” ? Another guys says (and again its not clear so I’m guessing) “better in a small club”. The song kicks of, and for the first time we hear the keyboards. They are not real prominent like the album, again the guitars are cranked to 11 for the rock crowd. I really like the guitar sound on this version, they have a real buzz to them. Not the clean, new wave sound, but a more buzzing grunge sound. Again it appeals to my rock roots. The audience seem pretty boisterous through out, and there is a bit of a cheer when the song ends (Is it an ironic cheer?)

The band go straight into Jack U Off without pause. Its during this song that it becomes apparent on the recording that they are playing to a hostile audience. Midway through the song an audience member comments “Look at all that trash”. I don’t know how much trash was thrown at them in the first couple of songs (Hey, I’m only listening on my stereo, not watching it!), but now it seems like the missiles are really coming at them. The song ends with a loud and prolonged “boooooooo”

 

Rolling Stones 1981

 

Uptown next, and its notable for the conspicuous absence of Prince himself. After whatever has gone down in the first few songs, he’s cut his losses and left the stage. And here I have to give credit to the band. They stay on, in front of 94,000 Rolling Stones fans, and play on without Prince. Best of all, they still sound good, testament to how well rehearsed and professional they were. Surprisingly the song itself doesn’t suffer too much from a lack of vocals. In fact I kind of like this way. There is more room for the instruments to play, and Dez is sounding great on this one. I would like to hear more songs played like this. Normally Uptown is a bit overwhelmed by the lyrics and the message, but here the music itself really comes out. I would love to hear this song in particular in better quality.

Prince is back onboard for the final song, Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad? (Is he singing it for the crowd?) Again he is singing lower, especially the chorus. I enjoy it this way, but maybe its because I am so used to how he normally sings it. The crowd noise isn’t so prominent in this song, maybe they have settled down about after his departure from stage. Unfortunately the taper announces halfway through the song that he’s had enough and stops the tape, so I guess I will never know how it ends. Its a shame, because normally the second half of Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad really takes off, would love to know how it went over with the Stones fans. I don’t know how the audience reaction when he finished, but I guess they went back to their beers and continued on.

Stones81

 

So it ends, one of Princes most famous gigs, but for all the wrong reasons. What my verdict? While the recording isn’t great, its a fascinating look at one of significant moment in Prince career. The songs are obviously played with the white Stones audience in mind, and its refreshing to hear them played this way. I have plenty of early recordings where Dez and Prince have their guitars right out front, but none more so than this. The recording has several shortcomings, but I am very grateful to the taper who recorded this moment for us all to enjoy. Its a nice little addition to the collection. Not a must have, but definitely a interesting curio.

Please comment below- Additions, alterations, criticism and praise. Any and all feed back welcome.

Next week I will be looking at something a little more recent- a Third Eye Girl recording.

-Hamish

Dr. Fink and Prince

 This picture has nothing to do with the gig- I just really like it!

Please share if you care 🙂