Tag Archives: Prince

10 Records in 10 Days: Day Six

16 Feb

Welcome back to 10 Records in 10 Days. A Facebook chain-turned 10 day blog series. The concept is simple. ”Post an album a day covering your 10 all time favourite albums. What really made an impact and is still on your rotation list, even if only now and then? Post the cover, no need to explain, and nominate a person each day to do the same”.

We’ve been nominated but rather than post without explanation, we thought it would be more fun to provide a little context. That is just the first of the rules we plan to break in this series. We are also not nominating anyone else (if you want to join in, you are more than welcome to do so) and we are also not adhering to any of the other implied rules either.

For the purpose of this series, we’ll be posting in the first person.

Day six sees a return to the theme of musical awakenings and my first exposure to the artist who would become my all time favourite.

Prince and the New Power Generation – Diamonds and Pearls

Like most kids in the late 80’s and early 90’s, a lot of my music came from the charts on Sunday night. Listening to and taping the tracks to play back again and again. This meant that, in all honesty, a lot of the music I listened to was not great. I was exposed to a lot of Stock Aitken and Waterman produced cheesy pop as well as songs that got a lot of exposure via the massive hit movies of the day.

So, when I headed on up to secondary school and heard Bowie properly for the first time, my mind was expanded and like a sponge, I started to suck in and absorb everything and anything I could. This lead to me listening to the likes of Belly and Sugar but also anything else my friends were enjoying. This was a period when most kids in my year had access to a walkman and most kids had headphones that could be shared. This meant lots of secret listening in class and at lunchtime and a lot of sharing of tapes.

While most of my friends at the time were experimenting with rock (Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, Iron Maiden etc) or dance and rave (Prodigy etc), one kid leant me a tape of something entirely different.

Prince was an artist I was aware of, but never really heard before. I missed the highs of Purple Rain and Sign ‘o’ the Times so never really knew what the fuss was about. Diamonds and Pearls would change all that forever.

While to many it marked the beginning of a downward spiral, Diamonds and Pearls was a highpoint in my pop music listening. It was so damn funky, so engaging and, frankly, so enlightening. This heady mix of musical styles, religion and sex was quite the revelation to this early teen at his all boys school.

As I was veering away from pop music, Diamonds and Pearls brought me back in and showed me it could be something so much more. There was funk, there was dance, there was jazz and there was hip hop, all present and to the fore, yet this was still undeniably a pop record. It was music I was familiar with and loved, yet unlike anything I had heard before. Who was this guy and how was he able to make such music, and how on earth was he able to sing the way he did?

I had to know more and set about buying more Prince records over the coming years, learning more about him and falling more and more in love with him. One of the first things I ever looked up online when I went to university (in a computer room, with a fellow student showing me what the internet was and how it worked) was Prince.

Diamonds and Pearls is not the best Prince album, it is not really even my favourite, but it is one of them and it is the one that I have the biggest personal connection with. It had such an impact on me that without it, such a massive part of my musical world would not exist. From the tiny acorn of sneaking a listen at the back of a Chemistry lesson, a massive oak tree of fandom and appreciation grew. It was Diamonds and Pearls that made me fall for Prince, and lead to him being (hands down, with only Bowie close) my absolute favourite artist of all time.

Emily King – “Distance”

28 Feb

Emily King

We want to share something that happened to us the other day if we may, a moment when we heard a song entirely by accident and it had just the most wonderful effect on us. A sense of warmth and happiness flooded over us as Emily King (a Grammy award nominated artist we had, until that very moment, never heard of – shame on us) sang and a Cheshire Cat grin grew across our face. Then it finished. So we pressed play and listened again, and again, and so on for a period of time that probably isn’t healthy. It’s like it hit the bullseye in our brain’s reward centre and we just had to keep going back for more.

The gently funky Motown beat gives depth and life and a sense of perfection to the relationship; slice the song in half and glitter and rainbows would spill out. An optimistic drum beat skips along with honeyed vocals that drip with innocence, infatuation and confidence in the love it is so lost inside. “Distance” begins and ends like an old Carpenter’s tune with the kind of dreamy, lilting melody that would fill a house on an idyllic, relaxed Sunday morning. An image that continues through the playful-Prince stylings of the song as it skips and dances along. Soft focus sunlight bathes the room as steam rises from the coffee pot; the delicious aroma of baking follows children’s laughter through the house to a wooden train set which passes through tunnels of Sunday supplements and passed slipper mountains.

It is a glorious throwback to emotive musical narratives of the past and one that we can’t help but feel a little bit addicted to; and it’s available to download for free from the player below. As if we needed any excuse to just keep playing it.

Stalk Emily King Website / Facebook / Twitter

Listen: St Vincent – “Digital Witness”

8 Jan

St Vincent

We were already pretty psyched for the new St Vincent album when we heard the skittish, discordant fabulousness that was “Birth In Reverse”, but we didn’t expect what came next, and now we are even more excited than before.

Also taken from the forthcoming eponymous album, “Digital Witness” is a psychedelic video screen of bright, spiralling, flashing colour type track; a brash foot stomping neon disco-funk type dance track. There’s some Prince flamboyance and synth exuberance in there, infectious horn sections that vibe across from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to P-Funk and back. It’s quite poppy, quite dancey, quite unerringly catchy and a little unsettling. But holy crap it is good. Just listen as the bass pumps and the guitars jumps sporadically into fuzzy life as if jerked by a defibrillator.

There are a bunch of hooks, all craving for your attention and adoration and each of them winning a little piece of you until your whole belongs to St Vincent. Keep listening, again and again, and we reckon your vision will be filled with images of lava lamps, disco lights and a flare-wearing Annie silhouette whizzing by, spinning and hypnotising you.

No, not what we expected but we bloody love it.

’St Vincent’ is out on 24 February and can be pre-ordered here.

Stalk St Vincent: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Listen: Fickle Friends – “Swim”

2 Jan

Fickle Friends

It’s time for our first brand new track of the year and while the hope and optimism of a new year is still fresh in our lungs and minds, we’re bringing you some super-catchy, life-affirming indie-pop to help keep it going.

The latest from Brighton based five-piece Fickle Friends, Swim (which, incidentally, features on the new Killing Moon/Ally Mccrae compilation) is bright, bubbly and as infectious as anything. Despite being about being so confused and messed up that you feel like you are drowning, it makes you feel anything but. There’s no confusion, it’s just sparkly and uplifting, the perfect buoyancy aid should you feel overwhelmed or besieged by January blues. You can bob along safely on its life raft of hooks and groovy guitar lines.

There are Prince-esque jams inside this 80’s new-wave pop doughnut, with a sprinkled coating of Robyn on the outside, and it tastes gorgeous. It makes you want to dance, and not all cool and ironic dancing either. We’re talking silly and enthusiastic, drunk and probably lacking in coordination but stupidly fun dancing. Singing along with your arm around a mate dancing as you have one of those nights that go down as one of the best nights ever (well, the bits you can remember at least). We’ll be singing this one for a while, that’s for sure.

Stalk Fickle Friends: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Listen: The Night VI – “I Would Die 4 U”

13 Nov

The Night VI

One sure fire way of getting our attention here at Alphabet Towers is with a Prince cover. Straight up, no fooling Mr, we love Prince, always have, always will. We particularly love how, in recent years, everyone seems to have woken up from the rather random collective Prince-myopia they were suffering (where only failings and odd behaviour could be seen) and remembered just how amazing a performer and songwriter he was/is.

We’ve also noticed, and are enjoying, the way “I Would Die 4 U” is gradually taking the place of Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game” as cover de jour for hip-young things (a much more sensible choice we’re sure you’d agree). The latest to break out the purple, ruffles and undeniable funky and sexiness are Anglo-French six-piece The Night VI and the result is a delight.

Naturally for a band who specialise in using complementary male/female vocals to create emotional, seductive music, their take is less energetic than the original, but no less passionate. Haunting and monochrome in places, dazzlingly vibrant in others, it’s an M.C. Escher painting unfolding out into the speckled colours of Lichtenstein as the voices entwine and spiral ever upwards. Guitars dance over sharp drum claps while the emotional core beats and pulses like the lifeblood of love and life within. Classic song, fantastic cover.

”I would Die 4 U” is the fourth in a series of six cover versions by The Night VI, each chosen by a different band member (this one chosen by drummer, Bo). The other three released so far can be found on the band’s Soundcloud page.

Stalk The Night VI Website / Facebook / Twitter