Guest Blogger: Jason Draper is the author of Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution (Backbeat Books).
Rock’n’roll is alive – and it lives in Minneapolis: Prince first made the claim on his 1995 B-side, but he continues to assert its relevance. Just two weeks back, on 25th May, he took a short drive over into Maplewood to perform a two-night stand at the Twin Cities’ Myth Live venue. Described by Prince biographer Jon Bream in the Star Tribune as “two of his most rocking shows ever”, they were something of a homecoming for Prince and his new group, 3rd Eye Girl, an all-female power-trio that’s just wrapped-up a small West Coast club tour this spring.
Evidently tired of the hits-based shows that he’s been taking around the world for the best part of a decade, Prince started 2013 hunkered down and reconnecting with the music, aided by his new band of youngbloods, who’ve helped him rediscover the power of balls-out rock performance. Hitting the stage looking like Jimi’s ghost, Prince is turning out new songs written to suit the two guitars, bass and drums set-up, while reworking old favourites such as Let’s Go Crazy into a slow, bluesy groove.
It’s the latest reinvention from a legend who, turning 55 today, has only his own past standards to live up to. And while Prince hasn’t scored a bona fide hit in years, nor even released a new album since 2010 (his longest-ever break between long-players – though a recent deal with Kobalt Label Services suggests we might get a new one soon), his continued search for reinvention puts his old rivals to shame. Also from the Class Of ’58: Madonna, whose MDNA reached into the same old dance-pop bag and came out with something forgettable and retrograde; and Michael Jackson, who literally died trying to keep up with Prince’s record-breaking 21-night residency at London’s O2 Arena.
Whether Prince’s current muse can lead him back up the charts again remains to be seen, but if the recent live shows are a sign of what’s to come, the future looks bright for Prince and 3rd Eye Girl.
Jason Draper’s Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution was hailed as “meticulously researched” and “one of the best-written, most-factual Prince biographies currently available”. None of these quotes came from Prince himself, though Jason likes to think the man would have begrudgingly agreed.