JUST AN OBSERVATION
Well 2016 is certainly racking up the death count of those who count. First the shocking news of Bowie’s death in the early stages of the year and the toll has seemed to increase weekly since then culminating in the death of Bowie’s spiritual successor and artistic heir Prince Rogers Nelson yesterday and comic genius Victoria Wood only the day before. Whilst I was never a huge fan of Wood- I am no fan of stand up comedy in general to be honest- I always thought she was a cut above the rest and there was immaculate insight and intelligence in her work. Prince however was a huge influence on me and my life and I have been a huge fan and admirer for decades now.
In much the same manner Bowie ruled the seventies the eighties belonged more or less to Prince despite stiff competition from heavyweight rivals such as Michael Jackson and Madonna but even they seemed in awe of his achievements at the time and often followed his trailblazing lead; he stood alone controlling his own image and music whilst they were surrounded by surrounded by stylists, collaborators and advisors.
For me the eighties was probably the most barren of musical decades of the late twentieth century- aside from those already mentioned only The Smiths, Kate Bush, The Pixies, The Cramps and The Fall left any legacy with real integrity or longevity- and in retrospect seems to be the decade the music business focussed more on the business than the music, not just by industry insiders but often by the artists themselves. Hell even Bowie lost himself in big business deals in the eighties, seemingly more interested in playing stadiums and selling records than making interesting and new music.
Luckily Prince was on hand to pick up the Bowie baton and boy did he run with it. From 1982’s ‘1999’- his earlier works are interesting enough but the story really began with this album- through to 1988’s ‘Lovesexy’he was unstoppable and even more than that he was untouchable: ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Around The World In A Day’, ‘Parade’ and ‘Sign ‘O’ The Times’ were the classic albums those two book-ended. There was also a brace of singles such as ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Kiss’, ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘Boys and Girls’ ‘Alphabet Street’ and ‘U Got The Look’ to name but a few.
Let us also not forget his hand in works by The Family, The Time , Sheila E and Jill Jones although his Sheena Easton moment is one maybe best overlooked.
Then there were the live shows and for anyone who hasn’t experienced Prince in this setting then I can truly say that you will never see the like again. I was lucky enough to see him three times- Sign ‘o’ The Times, Lovesexy and 1992 tours- and believe me when I say the first two shows in particular were among the best live shows I have ever seen. There is no need for footage- luckily there were no video phones in those far off days- as every moment was absorbed and enjoyed in that moment and as such is indelibly embedded in my memory and minds eye. Fantastic memories!
I was lucky enough to have also seen Michael Jackson and Madonna around this time also and whilst they were also on career highs and consummate professionals putting on outstanding shows they didn’t seem as involved or even as involving as Prince who carried his shows even during those moments he drew others into the limelight.
Whilst at the moment events surrounding his death are hazy, rumours of drug dependency and overdoses are inevitably emerging, I don’t want to focus on that at this time and instead would rather remember an outstanding artist who made life seem exciting, sexy and fun whilst also breaking down barriers regarding gender and race.
The term genius is bandied around a little too often these days- most annoyingly toward every non-entity who exits the Big Brother House and the like, ‘Oh, you were such a genius housemate/ contestant/ whatever’- but Prince was a bona fide genius who not only changed music but opinions surrounding why and how a man should behave as he strutted around in high heels and tight-fitting ever more flamboyant outfits. He was like Bowie in this matter but I always thought his style-visually and to some extent musically- was closer to that of Marc Bolan; both had an impish, effete appeal combined with a real sense of how to boogie.
Prince Rogers Nelson we thank and love you in equal measure!
Elsewhere an over privileged ninety year old who has been waited on hand and foot since birth was being publicly celebrated yesterday and whilst her government is forcing austerity on her subjects someone wisely thought it would be a good idea to gift her a castle from said subjects to add to her already extensive property portfolio in recognition of her surviving this life of privilege we have already paid for.
Yesterday wasn’t a good day for Lindsay Denton in what must be the best series on TV at the moment, ‘Line of Duty’ as she met her unfortunate demise in the latest shocking and brutal twist in this engrossing show. I must say I think the BBC has excelled themselves with this show and every second is compelling. I can hardly wait for next week’s series finale which will probably have more plot twists and turns each one more incredible- but still highly credible- than the one before.
Excellent writing from Jed Mercurio although the cast especially Keeley Hawes, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Craig Parkinson are outstanding also contributing in making the show a very special thing indeed. On top of that any withdrawal symptoms following its finale will be assuaged by the return of Peaky Blinders in the same time slot. Clear your diaries on Thursday evenings for the foreseeable future.
Off out to see the Miles Davis biopic, ‘Miles Ahead’, later today which should be interesting as I am a recent convert to jazz and have been dipping my toe into its waters recently. Davis is proving to be a favourite I must admit and a review of the film will be posted once viewed.
Here to finish off is Prince performing a personal favourite of mine ‘Girls and Boys’.