May 9, 2008

A masterpiece that lives and dies unheard

I mentioned Martika's collaboration with Prince in a post this week and received some unexpected feedback. I shouldn't need to tell you - u - that Prince was responsible for some of the finest music of the 80's and early 90's. But there were many songs he wrote for other artists that did not become hits, often done under pseudonyms like Joey Coco, Jamie Starr and Alexander Nevermind. Here are the best according to me, XO. Note that most of this post was drafted in October of 2006. Now it's ready...

The Family The Screams Of Passion:

The Family, featuring Wendy Melvoin's twin sister Susannah on vocals. This was their debut single, six minutes with Claire Fischer strings. Fantastic 1985 album, not on CD. Trivia: this is the group that first sang Nothing Compares 2 U. What I Like has a post with an extended Mp3.

Martika Love Thy Will Be Done:

One of Prince's finest songs, period. As I hinted earlier this week, I've always thought Martika should sue Texas for ripping this off on Say What You Want. Whatever, the song is like smooth electro gospel, beautiful. Get it and alternate Prince mix via this post at Music Source.

Sheila E. The Glamorous Life:

I always have time for The Incomparable Sheila E. This tune never wears out. I always loved the lyrics, such as "They made haste in the brown Sedan" and "If-u-have2-ask-u-can't-afford-it-lingerie...". Here also is Sheila's best video, the very 90's Sex Cymbal - watch the end to see that she is a major dancer too. You can get this MP3 anywhere.

Sheen Easton 101

Watch video here. No, I have not lost my mind, this Prince song is OTT madness in a manic way. My favorite part is the wailing bridge: "Nothing on TV / My girlfriends bore me / They try to please me / But I need you babyyy / You and me need to be / Together together / Physically!" to It surprises me that no one has covered this song because it's very electro. Burning The Ground has a post with remix MP3's (get password to unzip).

Jill Jones Mia Bocca:

For years
JJ hung around in the background of Prince projects with her platinum Marilyn hair. She has some funny moments in Purple Rain, but nobody knew how well she could sing until she recorded a phenomenal album with Prince in 1987 (another sadly not on CD). JJ recently weighed in on Prince's misguided fight against youtube with this wise comment: "Being in the world, and not of it, is difficult." Trivia: Jill married the male model Cameron, who starred in Madonna's Express Yourself video.

Ingird Chavez Elephant Box

Video must be watched here. An acquired taste? One hit wonder
Ingrid's solo CD was not so good. Double Trivia: Ingrid, who became Mrs. David Sylvian, wrote Madonna's Justify My Love with Lenny Kravitz, who she (Ingrid) was fucking while he was still married to Lisa Bonet. That relationship lead to Neneh Cherry writing the song Buddy X about Lenny.


DanProject76 said...

Hay, that's a flashback to my old 80s/90s 12" records era! I remember a mad remix of 101 and a white label remixes thing from Ingrid Chavez which was probably Elephant Box. I even bought her album.

Might have to search the house for some of these, if I still own them.

El MarvelOso said...

What a great post! These are truly the best of Prince.

I agree that Prince wrote some great songs in the 80s. Sometimes, his marketing was just so wrong, and I believe this made some of his artists suffer sales-wise ("suffer, pop: suffer!").

"Screams" is a great song. We used to do that little dip dance when we heard it. I still play that CD every once in a while (yes, I have the original CD).

"Love They Will Be Done", also great. The rest of the album was just ok.

Sheila E. was one of my favorites back then. Not sure if the casual fan knows this, but Sheila E. is credited as writing the song. I checked the title at the copyright office and found that the actual title of the song is something like "Glamorous Life written, produced and performed by Sheila E." but the writing credit is Prince.

"101" was an odd song, but I loved it. My partner, Ein Oso, has been playing this song non-stop ever since I played it for him (the remix). He LOVES the wailing bridge too!

My sister and I used to sing "Mia Bocca" all the time, but we would chop-up the Bo -KKA(like a chicken)! part. I wish my shoes would Prince-clap too. Jill Jones was one of the few Prince girls who actually had a real singing voice. I Love Claire Fischer's string arrangement in this song. The remix was pretty cool too. I DO have this CD! ( and two other of her albums)

"Elephant Box" and "Hippy Blood" were the only songs I liked on Ingrid's album. She sued Madonaa and Lenny since she wasn't paid or credited on "Justify". Madonna also stole lyrics from her in "Rain" - 'Clouds bursting in a prefect sky'. Ingrid had written this in "Hippy Blood" - 'Clouds bursting with rain in a prefect sky'. Hmmm...

I've talked about this before with some friends (not sure if anyone else has noticed this): I believe Prince songs performed by other artists tend to do better when someone else produces them. "Manic Monday", "Nothing Compares 2 U", "Sugar Walls"... It's like when Prince does the production, the songs don't chart that well. There is a quirkiness to his sound... plus he ALWAYS has to put his vocals in the track, UGH (Kate Bush and the horrible Madonna duet).

I haven't been a fan of his recent stuff. I was surprised with "Black Sweat", but one song in 10 years doesn't do it for me.

Michael said...

Love Thy Will Be Done is amazing. I remember listening to the cassette single over and over and over and over. The choir of Martikas and Princes is just seismic.

I love Mia Bocca too. The Jill Jones album was really underrated.

Phil said...


Martika came and went over here and this track certainly passed me by. Thanks for that. I loves it.

countpopula said...

XO, this is why you rule. What an excellent collection of stuff that, for the most part, passed me by the first time.

I absolutely loved 101--why that song wasn't a big hit is beyond me--maybe too intense for most? The gradual build is astonishing. As for the others--

I MUST find that Family album now. What a great song and arrangement, albeit a bit dated (what from the 80's isn't?). Of course, Sheila E. is DA BOMB. ("Hold me" was another great single).

I often heard people speak of Jill Jones, but never heard that song. Pretty good. The Ingrid Chavez was not a great album, but an interesting concept. Now where is the Carmen Electra?

Maybe it's time somebody at a label finally put together many of Prince's great non-Prince performed songs of this era. It's been over 20 years in some cases. Isn't he done fighting with Warner yet? Guess the Easton was MCA and Martika was Columbia, but it could be done if they really wanted to. How long will we have to wait?

Chris said...

Jill's record is indeed on CD. I own it. It's super rare... and often fetches up to $200 on ebay.

Paul said...

Before i comment on the post, i must commend Chris. If i had a cd that was worth $200, i'd find it incredibly hard not to rip it and sell it.

I'm not overly familiar with Prince's autre output but i really love Love Thy Will Be Done - what an amazing piece of work. That whole crescendo part from 2m55 is just stunning. Was Martika's Kitchen prince composed too? I remember kick kick kickng out the latest jam to that at a mormon church disco and my shoe flew off and took out sarah grice.

Dan said...

Casey Stratton does a quite lovely cover of "Love They Will Be Done" which I have always liked.

Michael said...

I live in Minneapolis/St.Paul so this list is pretty crucial to me.

No "Sugar Walls" eh? One of my fave Easton moments...

Ingrid Chavez also hung out in Minneapolis, and back in the late '80s she dated a good friend of mine. He was a huge Prince fan and a huge Sylvian fan, so I often wondered how he felt about losing her to two of his musical idols.

Just noticed I'm no longer linked - gutted!

xolondon said...

Michael, sorry about that. Your blog appeared to have shut down for several months so I removed you. I shall remedy it soon. Silence Is A Rhythm Too rocks!