Archive for April, 2016

MANY have done so much to show their love toward Prince after his passing last week. To celebrate, to love…to grieve. Springsteen did a killer rendition of “Purple Rain” that he is now offering as a free MP3 download from his website that I suggest you go grab.  Dance Parties, TV, Radio…everyone everywhere has weighed in loud and proud. And I’m sure there is still so much more to come. Last night was no exception to a stunning and breathtaking tribute to the icon, Prince.

D'Angelo on The Tonight Show promo ad

D’Angelo on The Tonight Show promo ad

Sometimes troubled and sometimes absent R&B/Soul artist D’Angelo appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to share his tribute. I’m not necessarily a D’Angelo listener but I know he’s got the goods and very much wanted to tune in to see how he would handle his tribute. His records, though few and far between over the past 21 years have been held in high regard and I know he is a well respected songwriter. Last night, through foggy eyes I heard Jimmy Fallon announce D’Angelo and what he was about to do. I didn’t know what to expect. His choice was to cover “Sometimes it Snows In April” from the Prince and the Revolution era album Parade, songs from his film Under The Cherry Moon. As I realized what he was about to do I was honestly happy it wasn’t “Purple Rain”. “…April” is one of my personal favorite Prince songs. It’s just so painfully beautiful. D’Angelo and his 2 female back-up singers known as Princess, bathed in purple light began an absolutely chilling, haunting, stunning, magnificent rendition of this Prince favorite. It was so emotional even for D’Angelo as he sang the line “I often dream of heaven and I know that Tracy’s there” subbing Prince for Tracy. He could not even get the next line passed his lips as he backed away from the microphone obviously choked up but recovered for the one thereafter. It was so real, it was like all space and time stopped for a second. I just wanted to share the video here in case anyone missed it. It’s so beyond worth a viewing or 10 and all the chills that come with it.

Still celebrating his Purple Majesty.

PRINCE

Posted: April 21, 2016 in Prince
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Prince

There won’t be any first, second…or third drafts. I can only flow with the go and take my fingers as fast as they can run over these keys, impossible to keep time with the thoughts in my mind.

I turned around earlier today, 04/21/16 and saw my friend approaching me with a very solemn look upon her face. “Soda, Prince is dead…” No, this obviously cannot be right. It’s a mistake, it’s someone else, they are wrong – was of course my reaction. Then disbelief and shock turned to sadness. Shortly after that the word started to spread, the internet was being informed of the passing. Of. Prince. It was a very hard fact. My phone then started to blow up. I couldn’t even think straight. All focus was gone, I had an instant headache and just felt sick. I called one of my dearest friends who would always say Prince was her soulmate. I called one of my sisters in between texts from other family and friends. This was very real.

I did not know Prince personally. Although I do believe we would have hit it off. I was, am and will forever be passionately into his work. 2016 has proven to be one of the worst years for heroes, idols and beyond in the world of entertainment. People die all the time, close to us and far from us, we definitely should put more compassion into things in our life other then the death of a “celebrity” that is most certain. But this one, this one is really earth shattering and I can’t say I wasn’t one of those people that didn’t instantly drop a post on Facebook about Prince being gone, because I did. And the world is going crazy as I type this. You see, he was a very special soul, otherworldly even.  And again…I didn’t know him personally. Although, someone that gives you 35 plus years of Music and art and everything in between you kinda feel like you know them. I was introduced to Prince at a young age, my Sisters having some of his albums on cassette tape. I’d hear it, see it…not understand it at all being a little kid like I was. I did always love the music from Purple Rain, it was just easy and certainly a curiosity and always kept me interested. I worshiped The Revolution. As I got older I started to listen to a lot of music and understand it more and really embrace it as a part of my life that would be an intravenous to my heart, truly. There was a period of time where I didn’t listen to Prince all that much when I was growing up and exploring my own tastes and likes. But, it certainly came back around and it was like a beautiful car crash. It was major. He then inspired me in every way, shape and form. He made me feel more comfortable about what I wanted to do on a stage when I first started performing. He was an artist that made me feel better about being myself. I dug deeper into his catalogue, sounds and words and looks. I then realized how important Prince was to my life as an aspiring musician, writer…artist. I’m one of a zillion people that shed a tear for this man today like he was our Brother. In so many ways, he was. Being able to sit down and write and just let my feelings flow about how much I adored this man is so helpful. Seeing so many people share their feelings has been beautiful. Watching so many other major artists tell their stories and seeing the massive respect everyone had for him. The adulation I myself have cannot be measured. That smirk, that cocky attitude, that tiny waist, those frills, that voice! His screaming guitars are forever burned into my brain. His versatility, his ease at writing a hook and playing every damned instrument. God gave Prince everything. He broke all the rules and made his own, shit, he WAS the rules. And you know, really…he will never truly die. The only thing any artist of any kind dreams of doing is making even a bit of an impact. Prince was more like a supernova and I am truly crushed. I’m really feeling this one. Silly or not, I will infinitely miss him. We are going to learn so much over the next few days as to why he passed. He was young, only 57 and always healthy from what we knew. He had been sick the last week or two with flu-like symptoms. Obviously that grew into something much more. No one is immortal, contrary to what any of us thought. Prince…was a human being and he has been called back home.

There will never be another like him, you’ll hear it hundreds of times over the next few days. To you, my fellow Gemini, I’m so grateful for what you have given me, my life is forever enriched because of you. I’d say the world has gone black, but clearly it has gone purple. Party Up.

 

Staring at this blank slate, trying to figure out where and how to start to describe the record that is Modes Of Transportation Vol. 1…It won’t be an easy task and I have certainly been procrastinating…

Just a few weeks ago the 20th Anniversary of this wacky masterpiece landed in my mailbox. I was certainly ready, willing and able to consume. Spookey and his music have been a major part of my life for a very long time. I’ll never forget first hearing his sounds. I was sprawled out on the floor doing homework watching Much Music for the short time America had the Canadian music network, which at that point was far superior to MTV and brought a vast many bands into my life. Initially I wasn’t quite sure what the hell I was hearing. It sounded like a cartoon about a boy going through puberty at first. But, it was a genius at work, yodeling like a crazy cat over an almost mechanical sounding bubblegum indie pop apocalypse. The song and video I am referencing is, “These Days Are Old”. This was the lead single off the record. Some years had passed since the release of the album when I first caught wind of it, and I was very lucky to have done so. Shortly after that I had it in hand and played it for everyone, equally perplexed, but who also went on to claim it as one of their favorite recordings. Anyway, enough whimsy, let’s tackle this Anniversary Release!

Spookey, Modes Vol. 1 20th Anniversary Cover

It’s beautiful, dense and very well crafted. This reissue is not some mediocre thing thrown out there to capitalize on an artist’s most successful venture. It’s calculated and lovingly delivered. What you get here is a Remastered “Modes” with 4 bonus tracks and lots of expanded artwork including a very touching and inspirational forward by Canadian songstress, Esthero. After reading her words I found that her story was kind of similar to mine. Accidentally discovering Spookey and being, well, somewhat confused at first. But then…obsessed. Seems textbook.

“We all have records we like – love, even…lots of them…but there are only so many you can KNOW.”

And well, she’s right. There has not been a single thing this guy has put out that I haven’t loved. Not like, but love. That’s pretty rare with a big catalogue and rare still with artists you really dig. To me, Spookey is very consistent.

The nicely remastered “Modes” follows the same track order from the standard release opening up with the few foreboding seconds in “Terra Magnifica” which sounds like your going to get something horrifying but then immediately turns into something beautiful with a cavalcade of instruments and a children’s choir only minutes in. It sets the bar pretty high and the theme only continues throughout. Next up is lead single “These Days Are Old” which I already waxed poetic about earlier and probably includes one of the best and most eloquent nylon string guitar solos you may ever hear. “Crystal Cradle”, colorful, fun, cute…”Running Away”, one of the most straight forward Alt Rock songs on the record. In whole it’s truly an adventure, and presented with more clarity than ever. I’d love to do a track by track, but I gotta leave you with some mystery. Just remember this when you get up to the conceptual “Life Insurance” delivered in 3 parts.

 

It came out on TVT in 1995 and was hailed as Pet Sounds for a new generation. It’s back and STILL from the future.

I didn’t even get to the bonus tracks! The first of four is “Knife In The Water”. It’s classic Spookey Ruben; it’s the bonus level, the 1-Up…the heart container! An absolutely brilliant contribution and you wonder why it was initially left off of the original record. My only guess is that the lyrical content is somewhat dark; a murder mystery of sorts. That’s followed by “Machine Language” which at first could be likened to a lost Nine Inch Nails tune. Before Spookey went solo he was in a thrashy, experimental math rock kinda band called Transilience. This track leans more to that era of his work. Next up is “This Truth” which has a more cool jazzy on the beach kinda vibe. Finally putting the period on this edition is a live cover version of the Pilot classic, “Magic” which lends itself greatly to Spookey’s diverse vocal range.

Spookey!

SPOOKEY!

I personally cannot say enough about this artist’s installment of aural pleasure other than the fact that it’s thankfully getting another breath of fresh air. If I could complain about one thing, and I use the word complain lightly, is the fact that “The Lonesome Mule” was left off this version, which appeared on the Japanese release from ’96. The fact that it also appears on Ruben’s Rarities collection Welsh Rarebits from a few years back makes it forgivable.

Anyways, art like Spookey Ruben’s is one of a kind. Much like Prince, Spook is that special, and his return has just begun. Look forward to a monster year from this very special songwriter.

(Also sink your teeth into Modes Of Transportation Vol. 2/What’s A Boy To Do? And Modes III, coming soon)

https://spookeyruben.bandcamp.com