Friday, 28 February 2014
Boy this is going to be Pharrell Williams' year, and you thought last years nostalgic chart domination was his time like when his Neptunes production partnership with Chad Hugo dominated every artist and airwave from Jay-Z to Justin Timberlake in the early new millennium of out of this world sound (Kelis', 'Caught Out There', Britney Spears' 'Boys', Busta Rhymes' 'Pass The Courvoiser Part II', N* Sync 'Girlfriend', Nelly 'Hot In Heere', Snoop Dogg 'Beautiful' and No Doubt's 'Hella Good' are just a tip of the Grammy caps legendary legacy). The two biggest songs of last year where easily Daft Punk's electronic 'Get Lucky' and Robin Thicke's sexed-up 'Blurred Lines' featuring Niles Rodgers and T.I. respectively, but neither songs would have been the hits they are without the production of Pharrell's trademark falsetto vocal hooks. Add an Oscar to those Grammy's like his name was Jamie Foxx because Pharrell yet again starred in last years biggest and longest hit movie and sequel, 'Despicable Me 2' from the studio booth. The one in a minion sound of mellow yellow fun that saw him score both popular and pop powerful soundtracks. No wonder he's so "haaaappppy". This is the musical genius and studio study work that his left the heights of his career feeling like "a room without a roof". These are his fun, Fonz 'Happy Days', rocking around the clock, putting his record in the jukebox, hitting play, taking a Summer's lawn chair and sitting on it.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Someone alert the Queen of England, a Prince has been running all around the city of London. Partying until the early hours of the morning, night after night, even taking an epic, weekends trip to Manchester. No, we're not talking about Harry again but Prince Rodgers Nelson. The artist formerly known as the Love Symbol, the self-dubbed "purple Yoda" from the heart of Minnesota with the latest generation of new power in his 3RDEYEGIRL group. On a 'Hit and Run', guerilla tour that began in the U.K. soul, new sensation of Lianne La Havas' living room (you know this guys around talented singing 'New Girl's' like Zooey Deschanel) and truly is a revolution of 3 hour, 6 encore sensational sets that would even leave epic great Bruce Springsteen and his touring E Street Band screaming for mercy. With the hash-tag 'Prince Watch' in full 3RDEYE vision, the man who once refused iTunes and recentely sued his downloading fans for an ice cold $22 mill is reversing the social-media trend in his own uniquely cool way and giving Ticketmaster a run for their money with a tour you'll never forget. 70 pounds is worth it trust me even if it's not as gracuiously inspired as his £31.21 price bracket in honour of the album (with a free copy of the C.D. dont forget) of the same name from 2006 (don't you wish this forthcoming 'Plectrum Electrum' album was called '1499'?). This is as U.K. exclusive as the times he blessed the Daily Mirror and its readers with two great and free albums in the form of his last release '20Ten' and 'Planet Earth'. This is more epic then his 02 residency (I hope Randee St Nicholas has the camera ready) or superior Superbowl show (or more dedicated than his Minnesota Vikings song 'Purple & Gold' (just think the Lakers would have probably had their own one too if they didn't leave Minneapolis)). This is truly a life-changing gig for all those queing up for the hopes to see a great like Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke or Michael Jackson still in his prime while they still can. After a Brits apperance and a trip to the Oasis land of Stone Roses, just when you thought it was all over London's calling again.
"It's been 7 hours and 13 days/Since u took your love away"-Nothing Compares 2 U.
He's still here 'Prince Army'. You'd have to to send the honour guard to take him out because he's going nowhere. Between rumoured Summer festival festivities and everyone eagerly anticipating the release date of his 'Plectrum Electrum' the hype is bigger than the lines. It's all fun though for the man who shows he has a wicked sense of humour, putting the image of comedian Dave Chappelle's classic skit, blouse Basketball playing Prince from the legendary, cult 'Chappelle Show' on the cover of his 'Breakfast Can Wait' single complete with pancackes. "Would you guys like some grapes"? How about some classics? You see from 'Kiss' to 'Purple Rain' as the artist says, "I got too many hits" for his extra time. No wonder these concerts keep gigging to the venue curfew switches off the microphones to an acappela security call. This is the guy that keeps it 'Snowing In April' in the U.K like it was 2005. With so many scorching singles and amazing album cuts to keep slicing through the night this man even got his Bruce Springsteen 'Because The Night' on, writing some of the worlds top artists greatest hits from Alicia Keys dialled up 'How Come You Don't Call Me', The Bangles 'Manic Monday', to of course Sinead O'Conner's unbeatable 'Nothing Compares 2 U'. Hey, he even wrote a record for top actress Kim Basinger and Carmen Electra owes her career to him. Just like the bosses basic take on Patti's 'Night', Prince's original recordings of these classics are just as good as the rest. The chick came before the egg on this one. Love or hate him, the purple don has influenced and inspired more of your favourite artists and genres styles today. You can see it from Ginuwine covering 'Purples' 'When Doves Cry' for one of his biggest hits (Prince reportedly approached G in a club, told him he hates covers of his records but liked his and then disappeared into the smoke in true Prince style) and Mariah Carey and Sisqo of Dru Hill taking flight with 'Rains' 'The Beautiful One's' as pretty as a picture on the songstress' classic 'Butterfly' album to Musiq Soulchild 'titlinghissongsthesameway' to every other R. Kelly and R&B record.
"Paint a perfect picture/Bring 2 life a vision in one's mind/The beautiful ones"-The Beautiful Ones.
Pop culture too with soul, from rock to rap, jazz to blues and a whole lot of everything else, this is one sexy mother-funker. He mixes genres like nobody else on this purple planet and all makes it his own unique style. He say's he's not about retro, but "new music with a sense of history". Leave it to the man himself to give the best description of just who he is and what he does so well from the Paisley Park fortress of hits that he calls home. The most epic of studio spaces that welcomes any genre and instrument in, as along as it wipes the crap off its feet before it comes in, because nothing is going to stink up the funk here. Rick James and James Brown will be screamingly proud of this funk freak who rocks heavier than the strongest metal and has enough soul to awake old Al Green sermons. As spiritual as they come, but with a popular sound this jack ('U Off') of all trades is actually an expert of everything. Don't doubt it just because you might have heard a record thats not for you, because the next one may just be. Understand? As venue filling, internet trending and crazy creating as this true artist is he is still vastly overlooked. Just like he's criminally underrated on guitar...there's more to his legendary love symobol axe than the look...he's literally one of the best slashers on the guitar that this planet has seen (oh and he sure can play other instruments too)...just check 'Planet Earth', track one 'Planet Earth' and his world of wonders that is his dynamic, dominating and of course diverse discography. It's truly a dynasty...even if he doesn't have to watch that show to have attitude. His songbook rivals Dylan's and in todays modern generation he is more than just still relevant. The man that doesn't really believe in time and calenders doesn't look like he's ageing too. He looks more like a fawn. Besides Jamie Foxx would. This guy is as American iconic to the whole world as the boss Bruce Springsteen. Both have classic albums throughout their decades and are still relevant with what they release to this day and both can write pop hits without straying away from their trademark territory. Still even the Boss faces a firing from the Prince as Mr. Rodgers has even beat Sir Springsteen to number one a couple of times in his career. Just check the linear notes of Springsteen's 'Greatest Hits' greatest hit.
"Imagine sending your first born/Off to fight a war/With no good reason how it started and what they are fighting for/And if they're blessed to make it home/Will they still be poor?/Pray for peace right now and forever more".-Planet Earth.
We all have our Prince memories for better or verse. This writer just recentely went to the Mississippi's magnificent and magical city of Minneapolis to begin this year and was inspired by the twin-cities for being the twin homes of both his purple Lakers and Prince. The Los Angeles basketball team may have left town but the ultimate hipster in heels Prince has never abandoned home. Keeping his studios work in the vast resevoirs of the land of 1000 lakes and the United States biggest Mall Of America. There's so many stories and memories to tell, depending on the person you meet. Like the first time you truly, really hear 'Little Red Corvette' in New York City, coming our of a Times Square tourist store radio like it was studio sonic. Or running around London trying to get the scoop on his newspaper free billboard albums and now sleeping outside venues like it was the 80's waiting for your chance to see the man himself and even have him shake your hand for your patience, persistence and power of fan love. That fan knows who he is. Ten perfect, platinum albums and an album average of one a year when '20Ten' marked his 33rd offical disc...take that Bob. This is a man whose done soundtracks for his own movies ('Purple Rain', 'Grafitti Bridge', 'Girl 6' and more) and even for a 'Batman' film, (remember the 'Bat Touche' of the 'Batdance' Adam West) dressing up as a purple Joker when Michael Keaton was Tim Burton's dark 'Beetlejuce', 'Batman'. Epic, incredible, prolific, unstoppable...we need some better adjectives for this moving feast of greatest albums of all-time in not only his name, but the name of music. From 'The New Power Generation' to a 'Revolution' of backing artists and bandsmens from the 'Closer Than Close' success of Rosie Gaines to Bria Valente's protegee album this guys has too many acts too, now having the 20/14 vision of 3RDEYEGIRL, a big three talent of girl purple power and promise. Eye know U R excited!
"I'm not a woman/I'm not a man/I am something that you'll never understand."-I Would Die 4 U.
The Top 40 owns 30 of his classics, but he's wrote hundreds more and like 2Pac or someone of that dedicated to lyrical art nature he's probably got a thousand more you'll never here all as great as gems like 'A Million Days'. Let's hope he's not contemplating taking out his suitcase and packing everything he owns. We still want to hear the release of that duet album he recorded with guitar hero Lenny Kravitz...as does Lenny we're sure being told at the last minute, "this is just for us". Remember this is a guy who they once compared to M.J., the one they called the greatest of all-time like Michael Jordan. Still when they talk about Prince versus Michael Jackson...even Chris Rock knows the truth, "Prince won". Sure Michael will always be the king of pop and an icon, but Prince is the king of everything. Every genre, every diverse workload of albums. Michael's hits healed the world and changed pop culture, but Prince expanded on it also being underrated for his lyrical songs and messages about bettering this world. These two are just that close, it's almost no competition. Just imagine however how great it would have been to see them dance-off on Jackson's 'Bad' video like Wesley Snipes, but as Prince told the press in response to M.J's request and in reference to the classic hits opening line, "my butt is nobodies". Enough said, now who's bad? The 30 year old 'Purple Rain' from it's 'Let Go Crazy' banging beginning to it's electronic 'Computer Blue', eclectic 'Darling Nikki' (even covered by the Foo Fighters) it's devoted dedications 'Take Me With U' and 'I Would Die 4 U' to it's formidable finale title-track is even thrilling enough for Michael Jackson's signature set and the best pop album of all-time with some of the greatest hits on. Even Quincy Jones can hear that. Fading to black and coming back years and years before Jay-Z had '99 Problems', the purple hearted king still reached new depths in his darkest hour with his pulled before release 'The Black Album' now being a cult, collectible classic. How this writer found it in a garage sale in Mancester was crazyily a dream come true, if not meant to be. Still, you know I'd trade it for a ticket to the 'Chocolate Box' (great song with A Tribe called Quest's Q-Tip for the record) tour factory in a 'Hit and Run' heartbeat however.
"Riding in my Thunderbird on the freeway/I turned on my radio 2 hear some music play/I got a silly rapper talking silly s$%# instead/And the only good rapper is one that's dead on it."-Dead On It.
It all began for Minny Prince writing songs at age seven however before a decade later he was putting out demos and 94 East band work with his cousin before hitting 17. He really came of age however on his debut 'For You' (where he arranged, produced and played all 27 instruments on his first release, struggling, breaking artists take musical note), and then his self-titled sophmore success which showed the promise of his success and even one of his earliest classic and greatest hits in 'Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad' and 'I Want To Be Your Lover' which still stands the test of trending time today. A simple, sweet but sincere song with some trademark stick your tongue slickness that showed that he could write classic soul-pop records with the Wonder best of them but also had a lot more to show and reveal in his classic career and catalogue. Then to begin the different decade for music in the 80's we saw more of his 'Dirty Mind' and the tabloid war of the classic newspaper covered 'Controversy' classic. Still, before we even had the purple umbrellas ready for his career reign we went supersonic with '1999' in 1982, with an album that had the new milleniuum song ready decades early and 'Delirious' classics in this Eddie Murphy age like 'Let's Pretend We're Married' and the start of his taxi-cab fetish. All the critics in the world loved him...let alone the writers in New York. The 'Sign "O" The Times' was his years before that 'It', 'If I Was Your Girlfriend' double 'Adore' classic solo-artist album. This was thanks to the 'Parade' of classic albums like 'Around The World In A Day' and hits like 'Raspberry Berry' and of course the legends legacy, landmark lasting purple tape and reel. It was a sexual dance revolution that echoed the sixties and had Americans and people around the world no longer missing The Beatles, because this...this Prince charming was truly rock and roll.
"I wanna be your lover/I wanna be the only one that makes you come running/I wanna be your lover/I wanna turn you on, turn you out, all night long, make you shout/Oh, lover! Yeah/I wanna be the only one you come for."-I Wanna Be Your Lover.
The New Power Generation age of the golden era 90's saw Prince not move the times, but move the times himself like he was releasing albums for free at a yearly rate. Bringing Public Enemy's Chuck D along for the ride, Prince fought the power that was the mainstream and showed them music of a new age for their generation. He changed the game again and again, before there even was a game. The world marched to his purple beat from his symbolic status to his flamboyant stage persona of this Rolling Stone cover star of our 'Time' that looked like a mixed-bag of a thousand Mick Jagger's and Michael Hutchence's (you should check out his live INXS 'What You Need' tribute cover too) with a dash of Berry and Brown making him truly an icon. His 100 million units sold, Grammy shelf and induction into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame don't do enough justice...but this sentiment sentence does...he is quite simply music. From the psychedelic to the new age you can't hear nostalgia and the future like this with anyone else in the universe. If he was a film he'd be as electronically vibrant and colourful as 'Tron', he makes David Bowie-with all due 'Ziggy Stardust' legendary respect-look...well normal. 55 and still on the 45, about to be still dancing at 60 like Muhammed Ali, still in the ring. He is the greatest. From Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix looing down with the pride this Sly & The Family Stone and Carlos Santana inspired innovator of 'Minneapolis Sound' has influenced generations more, carrying the torch and burning it with a purple flame. Like Earth, Wind & Fire he mixes all the elements to a 'Boogie Wonderland' 'Fantasy'. A hybrid of styles and hits that will never go out of date from your viynl to your playlist. There's more numbers from the 'Lovesexy' 'Alphabet St' artist of the letter to walk through. As is his credited work on other top artists work from the 'Red Shoes' of Kate Bush too Madonna's 'Like A Prayer' age. Still little shines brighter than the new power of the 'Diamond & Pearls' song, album and dance, the yellow guitar of 'Gett Off' and the 'Cream' on top. Then the hard to pronounce or wite down 'Love Symbol' album came with the sensational '7'.
"If I gave u diamonds and pearls/Would u be a happy boy or a girl/If I could I would give u the world/But all I can do is just offer u my love."-Diamonds & Pearls.
Back then you just had to call 'The Artist Formerly Known As Prince', 'TAFKAP'. Warner Brothers had trouble with this and writing 'Slave' on his face it's clear by turning the other cheek the feeling was more than mutual. Then came...erm 'Come', which was still a great experience before Prince truly hit 'Gold' with that scorching single and evidence of his guiatr shines and 'The Gold Experience' that followed with some of his best loved singles like 'The Most Beautiful Girl In The World' that keeps women smiling and feeling great about themselves today like they should, whether being courted or dumped. This double dominant album sold well but should be given more light of day today as he sang on 'Gold', "whats the use of money if you can't break the mould". Again enough said. With all the 'Chaos & Disorder' it was clear that was all folks for the artist and the Bugs Bunny Warner Bros label. Especially when his next 36 song ouput was called 'Emancipation'. An epic for EMI that featured the great 'Betcha By Golly Wow' Stylistic reworking and the 'I Cant Make U Love Me' Bonnie Raitt cover that has recentely been reworked by R&B general Tank, who again is heavily influence by the artist (just check the guitars on 'Lost It All'). The 5 CD 'Crystal Ball' collection also looked into how much more unreleased material Prince had with Warner before 'Newpower Soul' and 'Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic' (and its 'In2' remix album) cemented the new generation before a new revolution came. A sonic sound birthed new label marriages that would divorce into his own imprint for the new iTunes age before the new millenium that his '1999' career promised. Before that however came the jazzy 'Rainbow Children' and the Grammy nominated instrumental success of the inventive 'N.E.W.S.' album and its hear all about it 14 minute apiece 'North', 'East', 'South' and 'West' sounds. If you signed up to the NPGMusicClub too you'd have some great 'Xpectation' as you would if you copped his first live set 'One Nite Alone... Live!' which featured great concert sets including his unbeatable live version of his own 'Nothing Compares 2 U' which matches up to his 21 'Indigo Nights' epic run at London's 02 (complete with encore concerts) which he looks set to break now.
"Everybody wants 2 sell what's already been sold (Sold)/Everybody wants 2 tell what's already been told (Told)/What's the use of bein' young if U ain't gonna get old? (Old)/Even at the center of fire there is cold (Cold)/All that glitters (glitters) ain't gold, no no no no no."-Gold.
'Musicology' came from one album with Colombia for that sonic Sony sound with 'Cinnamon Girl' classics and that purple Paisley Park sound the fans had been eagerly missing and anticipatingly awaiting for. The 'Black Sweat' of '3121' soaked through the Spanish stylings of his underrated signature 'Te Amo Corazón' and it's Salma Hayek beautiful video. This all came inbetween extra work with En Vogue for Stevie Wonder ('So What The Fuss'), getting down live with Common and Erykah Badu and more movie moments for the marching of dancing penguins movie 'Happy Feet' ('The Song Of The Heart') while 'Australia's Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman also had a go at 'Kiss'...strewth! It was his Superbowl XLI stadium anthem moment of covering of Queen's 'We Will Rock You', 'All Along the Watchtower' by Bob Dylan, the Foo Fighters' 'Best of You' and 'Proud Mary' by Creedence Clearwater Revival that reminded the past and present that he was a true rock star to go with his 'Purple Rain' hits. A rock star that would release albums in the same papers he once battled for free ('Planet Earth' and '20Ten' with their respective great 'Guitar', 'Beginning Endlessly' and 'Laydown' triumphant tracks) as well as online ('The Chocolate Invasion' and 'The Slaughterhouse', sounds like death by chocolate) The man that Apple wanted to bite always hit the core his way even releasing three albums on the same day with his 'Lotusflow3r'/'MPLSound' double that came with Bria Valente's evocative 'Elixer'. Since 2010 it was a little quiet though for the man who averaged an album a year, but his 'Cause & Effect' single in support of independent radio and his scorching 'Hot Summer' kept fans craving for more before this guerilla sound hit London like a royal birgade with three princesses in tow. Now in the year of 'Electrum'-and its purp 'Screwdriver' singles-it's clear the plectrum belongs to the purple God of music and one of 'Time's' 100 most influential people on planet earth for his lifetime achievements that are still breathing and breakthroughing. Even in this old day and new age when it comes to live rock and roll and all it could be today and tomorrow it's clear to see and hear that Prince is still the king.
Saturday, 22 February 2014
Australia has a rich history and culture and plenty to be proud of...especially when it comes to music. From legends like AC/DC and INXS to todays best The Jezabels and Angus & Julia Stone. Let's not forget however one of the best up and coming bands you'll find not just in Australia but wherever you go. Boy & Bear are more than just a great, young band famous for their classic Crowded House cover 'Fall At You Feet'. Last night at 'The Deaf Institute' in Manchester, on the U.K. leg of their 'Harlequin Dream ' album tour they had the fans at theirs showing when it comes to their own writing and recording they have much more to offer. It was one of those perfect, small gigs. One of those unforgettable nights in an inspired intimate setting with your closest listening to great music all night and not wanting it to end. Feeling it from the first soundcheck to the last of the setlist. This writer must admit he knew nothing about this band until introduced by his girlfriend whose been a fan from the start, but now he's a fan too. More people need to see and hear more of this band who where able to help themselves to a meal in the downstairs terrific 'Trof' bar of Manchester. They better order quick however from now on because soon everyone will be lining up to buy them drinks for whats always guaranteed to be a great show.
After some incredible vocal support by young male singer-songwiter Eaves on the acoustic, Boy & Bear took to the stage to raucous and rabid applause and cheering from their dedicated faithful who filled the sold-out pit. Opening with their new album favourite, foot stomping 'Three Headed Women', every head in the house was nodding like those novelties people put in the back of their cars. There wasn't a steady shoe in the building all the way through to the 'Feeding Line' finale from their classic 'Moonfire' debut in a all-record but strictly (albeit friendly) no encore gratifying gig of both records reeled off. Stealing through both their sublime sets the band played as beautifully as their new album artwork looks even with all the animal fighting. A carnival of colours and themes from great guitar work to lasting lyrics this band made more fans from those pigging out in the 'Trof' downstairs that could hear but wish they could pay their bill, come upstairs and squeeze into the sold-out affair. Those in attendance though got to feel close-up just why 'Harlequin' is a number one album in Australia. From the beautiful 'Old Town Blues' to the stellar 'Southern Sun' and the even more magical 'A Moments Grace'.
Those new to the band also got to get a sneak-hear of just how good this band and it's first-time followers where with their breaking 'Moonfire' debut and its 'Part Time Believer' faithful 'Golden Jubilee' sound. An album recorded in the 'Music City', Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A., with the 'Milks & Sticks' and 'Percy Warner Park' classics that drew them comparisons to one of-not only folks best-but one of the best bands around today in the beautiful and epic Mumford & Sons (who they've supported along with A & J.S). Last night in the city of the Stone Roses and Oasis it was all about the Aussies though. Even if the legendary artist known as Prince was literally playing down the street on his epic, trending guerilla tour, it didn't matter it was all about the bears not the purple. Besides when your paying 70 pounds for the symbol and barely 10 for theses boys you know you've got the better end of the deal with feeding room for a bite and a drink before hand. Fans down the road would have to walk home in the lashing, lasting rain. Can't pay for cab fare when you've just spent a weeks wage for an evening. Here Boy & Bear where so worth it you where glad of the merchandise stand of collectible viynl and wearable t-shirts, because these guys deserved more. As nice as ever they even passed round a 'Wild Turkey' for the crowd to pass round themselves and share. No, this was not some crazy Christmas dinner leftover but a bottle of Kentucky whiskey given to them as an appreciative gift from their industry friends Elbow. Never mind the name-drop, doesn't that company certification tell you just how good this band are?
If your not convinced and want it straight then head to their next show if you can get tickets or just hear the great music that will sound just as live in your living-room if played right. As right as they played last night showing and proving they where more than just some newcomer or one to record, but instead a group that survived the so-called 'sophmore slump' and showed they're getting as better with age as that bottle of turkey would have if it lasted longer than a few more gobbles from around the fans that left it looking at about a shot and a half. The Sydney sons from New South Wales are about to come out of the down underground. Nursing a 1664 and artistic acoustic, lead-singer Dave Hosking had the Hutchence confidence stage-presence, tempered with an everyman down to earth appeal that won over the crowd and one day will make that moustache famous. Killian Gavin was bang-on on guitar too with some ravishing riffs of power and promise. While Tim Hart provided some dynamic druming, vocals and awesome crowd interaction that only an Aussie could. Add a brother in some Jon Hart banjo, keyboards and Dave Symes bass slapping and you have a band. Sprinkle a room full of dedicated fans introducing them to their most devoted and you have a simmering following that will lead this band to even bigger venues and stages. Still, with all the success to come theres something special about these small shows that can't be replaced or duplicated. No wonder one of the biggest artists in the world is playing small venues down the road too. It all starts with a couple of instruments, lights and the people that know good music. That's the Boy and the Bear, a band of fire and dreams who are about to moonrise from the 'Harlequin' mask to the big-top, big-time. TIM DAVID HARVEY.