Farewell Prince

PAUL OSBORNE remembers one of music’s true giants with help from The Muppets

prince-at-17-photog-robert-whitman-leadPrince 1958 – 2016

June 1990, Wembley Arena, and the 15-year-old me has just had his mind blown by one of the greatest entertainers of our age. Having worn out my VHS tapes of the 1988 Lovesexy tour, to see Prince Rogers Nelson on stage was truly a thing of wonder for me, and given the sad news of his passing yesterday is a memory to be cherished.  Although his recorded output over the latter years of his career had been patchy, the run of albums he released between ’83’s 1999 and ’88’s Lovesexy cut a unique path through the wasteland of gated drums and synthetic sheen of ’80s music, channelling The Beatles, James Brown, Hendrix and creating a sound and look all of his own.

A fiercely independent musical spirit, Prince made music that was inventive, funky and at times downright weird. For proof look no further then acid-fuelled masterpiece that was ’87’s quickly withdrawn Black Album. Hard to imagine a modern day million selling pop star even coming close to the creepy pimp narrative of ‘Bob George’ (“Prince! That skinny muthafucka with the high up voice!”) or twisted psych-party funk of ‘Superfunkycalifragisexy’ with its references to squirrel meat and masturbation.  1987’s career high point Sign Of The Times showcased the brilliance of his talent, covering social commentary (the title track), JB-esque funk (‘Housequake’), childlike psych-pop (‘Starfish & Coffee’) and dark paranoid soul (the brilliant ‘If I Was Your Girlfriend’) and veered between rich layered textures and stark guitar and drum sounds. The accompanying movie remains the concert film that all others should be judged against.

To see Prince live was to understand the true measure of his talent. Whether shredding on his guitar, running up and down scales on a grand piano or pulling off dance moves that left you blushing, he worked the stage and his instruments with an effortless ease that left you open mouthed.  Like Bowie he remained an enigma right until the end, a truly individual talent the likes of which we’re never likely to see again.

One of the last great entertainers of our age has left us, and the world is a slightly duller place.


The Dreaming Spires ‘Paisley Overground’ debut

Exclusive streamed preview from The Dreaming Spires from the forthcoming Paisley Overground album

It must all go back to The Beatles and their ringing 12-string Rickenbackers, heard by us all as children, and heard by Roger (Jim) McGuinn too. In the Bennett household the band were bouncing round the living room to all of ‘Hard Day’s Night’ and to ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ as well, despite being 30 years too late for the moment that chord first struck. They didn’t know either that The Long Ryders and others were right then resuscitating that sound, with a discordant edge, in sweaty rock clubs on Sunset Boulevard, planting a seed that led to California’s modern day Rickenbacker revivalists. When they started creating pop songs dominated by the chime of the 12-string guitar in their band Goldrush – ones that even made the real charts – the lads weren’t the first Brits to revive the sound; Tony Poole’s Starry Eyed & Laughing had done so in the ’70s when McGuinn and co were already fading out of fashion. Sid Griffin of The Long Ryders and Tony Poole are both on board here, Sid contributing ‘Tell Her All The Time’, and Tony producing and playing on that track and the first two Dreaming Spires tracks on the EP, as well as mastering the record.

Read more The Dreaming Spires ‘Paisley Overground’ debut


The High Llamas ‘Here Come The Rattling Trees’ EXCLUSIVE

Seasons change, and now that spring’s around the corner, why not open up the windows and freshen your musty old interiors, huh? And since Here Come The Rattling Trees is such a fresh piece of wax, spin it on while you’re doing your cleaning! The latest LP from the venerable High Llamas, England’s finest purveyors of meticulously breezy-n-lite modern pop sounds


Here Come The Rattling Trees was just released in January to critical acclaim. And while everyone’s clamoring for these blissfully woozy sounds (making the record difficult to keep in stock!), it’s easy to forget that they originally eminated from a theatrical performance: a play written by Sean O’Hagan himself, with music written and performed by High Llamas! We’d happily describe the basis for this play ourselves, but we wouldn’t do it justice – instead, why not let O’Hagan himself fill you in? Yeah, that’s better!

Read more The High Llamas ‘Here Come The Rattling Trees’ EXCLUSIVE