Prince – Raspberry Beret

When Doves Cry (the first Prince song I ever heard), 1999, Nothing Compares 2 U, Purple Rain, The Beautiful Ones, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Diamonds and Pearls, Money Don’t Matter 2 Nite, Kiss, I Feel For You, Little Red Corvette, If I Was Your Girlfriend, where do you start with Prince?

I will admit to shedding a few tears when I learnt of his death last year, a man whose songs I lost myself in, who was capable of moments of extreme musical genius and still at times of decidedly average music, and yet he still effortlessly wrote and performed rock, soul, love soaked ballads and sex drenched funk, a little hip-hop, a touch of jazz and a whole lot of purpleness.

I first heard him on the radio, got deeper into him via his greatest hits albums, just as he ditched Prince and came back as Symbol, or the more keyboard friendly TAFKAP. I was hooked just from The Hits 1, Let’s Go Crazy, Adore, Alphabet Street, Pink Cashmere, Sign Of The Times, pretty much every song was great. The Hits 2 contained more of the same, but from that I bought The Gold Experience when it was released, preceded by the pop ballady Most Beautiful Girl in the World. This album absolutely cemented Prince into my life. P Control, Shhh, Endorphin Machine, We March, Now, 319, Eye Hate  You, the uplifting ttle track, the funk busting Billy Jack Bitch and the electric soulfulness of Shy, it still ranks as one of my favourite albums ever. I listened to it over and over again, I threw almost every song onto one home made mix tape or another for my car.

From Gold Experience on I bought every album he released (that I could find out about) while slowly gathering his back catalogue. For some reason I instinctively knew there was a hidden track on New Power Soul, Wasted Kisses, probably the best track on the album, and after listening to The Vault, I wondered just how amazing he would be if he turned his hand to jazz. The Rainbow Children started in that direction but by then Prince had become a Jehovah’s Witness and the sweaty sex driven funk had become diluted. I listened to his later stuff, but didn’t get into it so much, completely missed the album released in the Daily Mail and just raved about the show I was lucky enough to go to as part of his 21 nights at the O2 in London.

So why Raspberry Beret? Mostly because it was one of my early favourites, and because I used to tape songs of the radio and I remember taping it on what would become my favourite tape. It always reminds me of summer and showcases Prince’s playful side
“busy doin’ somethin’ pretty close to nuthin’, but different than the day before …That’s when I saw her, ooh yeah I saw her she walked in through the out door..”

Since he was so hot on the ownership rights of his music (and rightly so) it’s actually fairly difficult to find his songs with audio on youtube or soundcloud, so I’m posting the links to the mixtapes I did in tribute, the 2nd one contains Raspberry Beret.

 

 

U2 -Mysterious Ways

After something of an unexpected hiatus, I’m aiming to carry on with my Life in Music series of posts, looking back at the songs that I’ve grown up with, that revealed a new direction to me and that soundtrack some of my favourite memories.

Music is probably the biggest passion in my life, it features much more in my life than my books do, mostly just out of practicality, I never leave the flat without my ipod yet I never really take a book with me (I don’t like them getting tatty).

So we come to U2. Or more specifically Achtung Baby, my first U2 album. This album is the soundtrack to Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. I received both for Christmas and would put the CD on loop while I jumped, flew, rode Yoshi and grabbed mushrooms in my mission to unlock all 99 levels.

While I loved most of the songs on the first hearing, there were a couple that took a while to grow on me, and even to this day I still can’t say I love Acrobat.

It was Mysterious Ways though that went onto my casettes for the car and my walkman (I know, I’m revealing my age here), edging out the album opener, Zoo Station. The crashing wall of the guitar leading into bongo’s and rumbling base and Bono’s pleading vocals making the song an epic rock track..
I missed getting to see the tour for various reasons, but when watching the Zoo TV video (there’s no point trying to hide it now) I fell in love with it again when they revved up the guitar, added a big dollop of keys, some funky bass, and for good measure threw in a dancer (Morleigh Steinberg, or Mrs Edge). It’s this version I’ve bunged in at the bottom of the post.

Over time Ultraviolet (light my way) and Tryin’ to throw your arms around the world overtook Mysterious Ways, and I could easily write about every song on the album (think they’ll be another post coming) but it was Mysterious Ways that drew me in, and started my love affair with U2. Since drafting this post I’ve been listening to the album on repeat on my ipod, and it’s still stands the test of time.

 

M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up The Volume

I love everything about this song, which will always remind me of my school discos, and which almost certainly sparked the love of dancing that still drives my feet to this day.  From the unmistakable intro through the looping beats and sparse keys through to the iconic refrain, you can’t help but at least tap your feet or bounce to it.  This and C & C music factory, Everybody Dance Now were always staples at school disco’s while I went through school, from the last days of the Juniors to the formative years of the seniors, where I would happily dance away, knowing that my rest would come when the slow songs came on at the end.

James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)

The scream at the beginning of this song is classic, defining almost a genre as well as the man behind it.  Heard one night on Capital FM, James Brown was, as you can probably guess, my introduction to the world of Funk.
The low driving beat propels the track while the swerving horn takes up the baton from Brown’s lyrics before passing it back all the way through it’s short, punchy 2 and a half minutes, before the theatrical finale.
Later it would be The Boss, Talkin’ Loud, Sayin’ Nothing, or Sunny with Marva Whitney among others that would be my favourites of browns, as well as the classic tracks that were, and still are, a staple of clubs everywhere, but I Got You was the first, and revelatory track that introduced me to hardest working man in show business and a whole genre that would dominate my taste for a good long time after..

 

Erma Franklin – Piece of my Heart

Didn’t I make you feel / Like Yoooooou were the only one … I always recognise the opening of this song instantly, the first step into a lifelong love of classic soul.  A CD compilation called the very best of blues brother soul sister introduced me to soul (my dad had already introduced me to the blues) and this track was my favourite on the double CD.  Erma Franklin wringing out the emotion over the piano led two and half minutes of heart wrenching soul.

It’s also one of my fondest memories from my clubbing days at a club that will be mentioned in a later post.  I had gone one night with a mate who didn’t club that frequently and rather than the usual funk filled set, the DJ was a lot more soulful.  After getting the floor rocking, he dropped this song, the crowd loved it, everyone singing and dancing with smiles on their faces.

Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule the World

The first CD album I bought, was Tears For Fears greatest hits, Tears Roll Down and Everybody wants to rule the world was, and probably still is my favourite track on it.

Right from the opening it is at once uplifting but mellow, a song to listen to while you’re driving, the drums roll along, the guitars circle round and you can’t help to sing along, Welcome to your life / There’s no turning back ..

I flirted with Sowing the Seeds of Love, Shout, Change and Pale Shelter, I think I probably had a full blown affair with Woman in Chains for a long time, but I came back.  Especially when Christopher Laird on Radio Nowhere played the extended version, I was back with Everybody wants to rule the world, and I haven’t left it since.  A song that I will always remember, from my first CD, that I still have, somewhere.

The Bee Gees – Massachussetts

OK I’m kinda cheating on this one, as it could easily be any one of the songs from The Very Best of the Bee Gees, except for Tragedy. It could easily have been I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You, Jive Talkin’ or You Win Again but it’s Massachussetts.  The last song (for a while) that comes from my mum and dads collection, after this I branch out on my own!

This Bee Gees album was another constant I remember when I was a kid, I don’t know if it was on all the time or if I just played it over and over again, but the whole album had a bit of everything on it and I never got enough.
I love the rolling guitar at the beginning of Massachusetts, and the chorus that always seemed louder than the rest of the song (I think all the Gees were singing).  I have no idea what the song is about, I just remember it’s a song that I still find myself singing every now and again..

Feel I’m goin’ back to Massachusetts / Something’s telling me I must go home. / And the lights all went out in Massachusetts / The day I left her standing on her own.