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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘prince

[MUSIC] Four music links: Prince and Janelle Monáe, Shirley Manson, Fischerspooner, Madonna

  • VICE reports that the late great Prince had some input on the new album of Janelle Monáe.
  • This interview with Shirley Manson by VICE is brilliant. I love her, and Garbage.
  • I’ve been following Fischerspooner, and solo Casey Spooner, for a decade and a half. It’s always great to hear more from them, and not only new music. (_Sir_ is quite good). Hornet Stories reports.
  • At Albumism, Quentin Harrison recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of Madonna’s Ray of Light album, one I think is easily one of her best.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 1, 2018 at 11:15 pm

[MUSIC] “On The Men Who Rattled Pop’s Gender Rules — And What It Means To Lose Them Now”

At NPR, Ari Shapiro interviewed Wesley Morris about the deaths last year of three musicians, David Bowie and Prince and George Michael, who each pushed the boundaries of acceptable gender performance in different ways. Morris’ take on each of these artists is noteworthy, as is his conclusion.

It’s obviously a tragedy — a coincidence of the calendar — that all three of these artists died in 2016. But do you think that when you put the three of them together, you see something about the evolution, or maybe devolution, of masculinity in pop music?

Yeah. I mean, to have that happen in a year in which we were re-debating the propriety of maleness with regard to women, and excusing it as just the thing that men do?

You’re talking about the presidential race talk about sexual assault, things like that.

Yes, yes. And I think that just looking at what the coming administration is going to look like, it’s gonna be full of generals, full of men who have exerted power in this very traditional way. I think that we go through these waves, these periods. It’s gonna be really interesting to see what the next three or four years turns up — in terms of how you might be able to trace some through-line from people like your Princes and David Bowies and George Michaels to whatever is happening in music in two years.

What will come of these men’s shared legacy?

Written by Randy McDonald

January 5, 2017 at 8:00 pm

[LINK] “2016: The year the music died”

Ben Rayner wrote earlier this week in the Toronto Star about how 2016’s toll of notable rockers is set to only grow, in 2017 as in the future. The stars of old are aging, and as age approaches death inevitably comes in behind.

If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that even pop’s most seemingly immortal figures are, in fact, quite mortal and destined for the grave just like the rest of us. It was an annus horribilis that began on a low note with the death of David Bowie just three days after the release of his blackly magical 27th albumBlackstar on Jan. 8 — and basically stayed down there in the depths for the next 12 months.

The pop deaths just kept coming: Prince, felled at 57 on April 21 by something as impossibly prosaic as an opiate overdose. The Eagles’ Glenn Frey. Merle Haggard. Prince Buster. Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire. Suicide’s Alan Vega. Sharon Jones. Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, whose twin departures from this plane rendered Emerson, Lake & Palmer a solo act within the space of just nine months. Canadian icon Leonard Cohen, too, of course, who predicted his own looming demise in Bowie-esque fashion with an album-length goodbye of his own, You Want it Darker, released just a couple of weeks before his very private death on Nov. 7 at 82 years of age. George Michael, announced on Christmas Day.

Scarcely a week would pass without the mention of another drummer here or another guitarist there of a certain age quietly saying goodbye forever — and this after the shock of the sudden death of whiskey-swillin’ metal survivor Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister at 70 just three days before the end of 2015.

The Canada-stunning announcement in May that Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip was fighting to survive against terminal brain cancer didn’t help matters much, either, even if the Hip’s triumphant farewell tour in the summer and the subsequent release of his noble Secret Path solo album in the fall proved inspirational rather than sad.

In any case, 2016 was not the happiest time to be a music fan. As the Georgia Straight put it, “About the only good thing that happened in 2016 was that Keith Richards didn’t die.”

Unfortunately, at some point Keith Richards, who just turned 73, is going to die, along with the rest of the Rolling Stones, who have played the poster boys for rock longevity for 50 years now but simply can’t keep it up forever. Time is on no one’s side, not even the Rolling Stones’.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2016 at 7:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes laneway crawls in Toronto and notes a vacant lot in Leslieville is set to become a community market.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at atmospheric nitrogen on Earth and Venus.
  • Joe. My. God. confirms Prince’s death as a consequence of an opioid overdose.
  • The LRB Blog notes the importance of Felix the Cat in television broadcasting.
  • The Map Room Blog notes a collection of Atlantic Canadian maps.
  • Marginal Revolution talks about Indians taking good lessons from the Raj as well.
  • Peter Watts crows at the success of cephalopods on the changing Earth.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes the weakness of the Mexican welfare state.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the concentration of Russians in a bit more than a dozen major cities.

[REVIEW] Sign o’ the Times

I mentioned Friday and in this evening’s Purple Rain review, I was planning going off to the Royal Cinema downtown to see the concert film Sign o the Times. The Royal had managed to acquire a copy of this famously rare movie on 35 mm film, and was going to show it to an audience only once.

I did go, of course. Online ticket-buying can make life so easy, as can the TTC (29 Dufferin bus down to College, 506 College streetcar east to Grace).

Ticket #toronto #royaltheatre #prince #signothetimes

My raffle ticket, the orange piece of paper, was just one number off from a winner’s. Yes, I am considering Purplelectricity party this August. First, I’ll need something purple to wear.

Paraphernalia #toronto #royaltheatre #prince #signothetimes #purplelectricity

After a long line-up and a not-terribly expensive visit to the concession stand–$C 11 for a bag of popcorn, with butter, and a beer is not bad at all by movie theatre standards–I was even able to find a seat in the center, towards the front, just where I like to sit. I was ready for the film.

Big screen experience #toronto #royaltheatre #prince #signothetimes

Sign o’ the Times was an amazing experience. This was clear from the start, when Prince opened the concert with a performance of his “Sign o’ the Times”.

“Sign o’ the Times” is itself an amazing song, touching on the ills of the late 1980s: AIDS, the illegal drug trade, gangs, the Challenger disaster, natural disasters. It mines the same vein of pre-apocalyptic fear as later songs, like “The Future” off of his Batman album. (The below version is somewhat reworked from the original, but still recognizable.)

Prince’s performance elevates this song, and others, to the sublime. The best parts of Purple Rain were Prince’s performances. A movie comprised almost entirely of his amazing musical and physical performances could hardly fail. Theatrical components were limited to interludes, short sketches sometimes featuring Prince and sometimes not, linked thematically to the songs. Sign o’ the Times evokes David Bowie’s contemporary Glass Spider.

My Purple Rain audience had only five people, but this audience was packed. More, the audience was participatory, singing the chorus of “Little Red Corvette” along with Prince as he performed a piano of that song, or applauding a brilliant drum solo Sheila E.. It was a fun experience.

Probably my favourite song performance was “U Got the Look”, performed with Sheena Easton and integrated into the movie as a dream sequence.

“If I Was Your Girlfriend” was also pretty good.

Sign o’ the Times is a superb concert film. More people–Prince fans, others–need to see it. I consider myself lucky to have been one of the mere hundreds to catch this film on the big screen today.

Credits #toronto #royaltheatre #prince #signothetimes

Written by Randy McDonald

May 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[REVIEW] Purple Rain

I mentioned on the 28th of April that I owned the album Purple Rain, but I hadn’t mentioned mentioned that I had was just about to see the movie Purple Rain for the first time. The Kingsway Theatre, out in the west end by the Royal York TTC station, was putting on a special showing–first two shows, then six.

Purple Rain at the Kingsway #toronto #prince #purplerain #kingswaytheater

Why not?

Ticket #toronto #prince #purplerain #kingswaytheatre #kingswaytheater #tickets

My Friday night showing was, alas, not very populated. I was one of five people sitting in the theatre at the 11 o’clock showing, and the only single guy. I have no idea whether the wonderfully restored Kingsway Theatre decided to continue with the full slate of showings planned. (I hope it picked up.)

How was the film? The segments of Purple Rain which work the best are the performance scenes. Here, Prince is electrifying. The rest of the film does not work especially well as anything but a framework for these scenes: Few of the major characters are portrayed by competent actors, the script needed some work to become a tighter and more cohesive narrative, and the direction seemed workmanlike. The movie has to rank as a relatively minor pop culture artifact of the 1990s, secondary to the music. Since that’s apparently how Prince saw his ventures into film, and how his fans saw it, I can’t say that it was a failure on its own terms.

I’m still glad I went–even at its worst, Purple Rain was at least fun. As I mentioned Friday, I’ll be going off to the Royal Theatre downtown to see the concert film Sign o the Times. Yes, I will share my impressions with you all.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 15, 2016 at 8:00 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Prince’s Sign O’ The Times: Back On The Big Screen For One Last Blast”

NOW Toronto‘s Norman Wilner describes this showing Sunday of Prince’s concert film Sign o’ The Times. I think I will be trying to make it.

His name was Prince – and Christ, was he funky.

There is no greater filmed evidence for this than his amazing 1987 concert movie Sign O’ The Times, which is pretty hard to find in most of the world. There wasn’t even a DVD release in the US, thanks to a rat’s nest of rights issues; in Canada, Alliance Atlantis put out a decent disc but it’s gone out of print and now fetches a fortune. If you have a Blu-ray player, you can always import the Japanese edition – Japan is in the same region as North America – but it ain’t cheap.

I can feel you getting depressed. Well, don’t! I have great news for you: the Canadian theatrical rights for Sign O’ The Times are still in place, and my friends Matthew Price and Sasha James have secured an honest-to-god 35mm print to screen on Sunday (May 15) at The Royal as this month’s Musicale! feature.

And it is an absolutely fantastic concert movie, organizing performances of his 1987 concert tour into a thrilling, coherent whole. Prince (who also directed the film) captured himself at an absolutely electric point in his career, just after breaking up The Revolution and exploring every possible direction he might take in the years to come. You honestly won’t be able to tell whether that’s sweat dripping off of him, or just excess talent.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 13, 2016 at 6:03 pm