This is probably no consolation to the artists involved or their loved ones, but there's a certain advantage to being a fan of musicians who are playing the harp and timbrel in heaven rather than a Les Paul banjolele down here with us mere mortals. Apart from the unreleased stuff unearthed by record companies (of which there always seems to be more for some popular arteeestes), with a musician who has passed on to the other side, you always know what it is you are trying to collect. You know how many records he, she, or they made. You know whether they are any cop or not. You know it's your own silly fault when you buy the ones that aren't any good for £180.77p on eBay, because you've had 20 years to find out they are rubbish but decided you just had to have them anyway. There are no gigs to queue for in the stinging rain, and no panics caused by trying to obtain one of the 250,000 tickets which sold out in eight seconds when released on the internet in the dead of night, despite you being signed up to all the fan clubs and deep-web forums dedicated to your hero it is possible to join. Your idol is no more. Which is a manageable situation for a collector/obsessive: so long James Brown, thanks for all the mashed potato. Right now, I feel sorry for the fans in Britain who are facing up to Le Mystère Of Prince Rogers Nelson, for many folk the James Brown of his era; at this moment, fans of the wee purple funk-rock legend are chasing around London trying to get in to see him, including my esteemed colleague Jason Draper.
It's not an easy task. Prince played at the Electric Ballroom, but only four songs were delivered to paying punters; the bulk of the set was delivered to guest list members. Having seen Jason put in the legwork and chase his contacts in an attempt to see him, yet fail at the time of writing, I've got to say that there must surely be a better way of doing things. OK, so Prince is maintaining his reputation for being an international man of mystery, and building a sense of anticipation for whatever he's got up his wizard’s-gown-like sleeves, but there are going to be a lot of frustrated fans out there. But, as Mr Draper says, “once you are in, you are in”. By which, he doesn't mean in the gigs, but in the obsession. He could no more duck out of trying to see Prince than a mad Man City fan could avoid trying to see them at a Champions League final or a Keira Knightley obsessive could stop himself peeping if she happened to knock at the door and ask if she could sing in his shower. This is the problem for all collectors and music obsessives writ large: once you are in, you are in. We feel compelled to participate in whatever charade (or Parade) we are being fed. And we love it. Thank God the obsession is not something darker, such as heroin, or Miley Cyrus tattoos. I hope and pray for Jason's sake that there's never a one-off secret gig in which Prince and Beck team up to sing the songs of Serge Gainsbourg. Anyway, here's a bit of sweet soul that seems appropriate to the situation: click here.
Eddie Cornelius sounds like Paul Jones in that song, and I ought to give a plug to his Radio 2 show here because it's about the only national programme where you can hear the sort of music he plays on a regular basis. Very impressive and broad selection too, despite the rhythm'n'blues tag it gets; everything from Count Basie's version of Hobo Flats, which I know in this incarnation, to Nine Below Zero. He also recently aired Otis Clay's little-heard cut of Sir Douglas Quintet's awesome She's About A Mover, which is one of the standout tracks on Hall Of Fame Volume 3, a CD which refuses to leave my car stereo at the moment. Jones deserves his national treasure status for sticking to his guns and keeping the music he loves heard.
We are grinding away on the new issue of RC; don't worry, we'll have it sanitised before it goes on sale. This edition recalls the days when all a band needed to do was send a Beatleish promo photo to a US teen mag to launch your career in the States; the era when a bunch of public schoolboys could change rock forever thanks to some songs about stately homes and a face mask; how a couple of gigs by a bunch of chancers attached to a half-successful London boutique could ignite an entire musical movement all across Europe; and how a trio of girls from the poor side of an industrial metropolis in America could suddenly find themselves posing with a cute car in a Paris street and be regarded as très chic. Plus lots of other mad stuff from the vital to the what's-that-doing-here? ephemeral, as ever.
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Have a great week, best wishes,