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Penman on Prince

Started by pancreas, August 06, 2019, 04:45:02 PM

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pancreas

Ian Penman seems to write about music rather well. He wrote about Prince in a recent LRB. Having basically never listened to Prince before, I've been making my way through his rather substantial catalogue. Hugely interesting, inventive stuff, no? Sign O The Times in particular is dizzyingly creative.

This bit resonated (footnote 2):

QuoteListening to Dirty Mind again, I was struck by something that sounded like an echo of Van Halen's song 'Jump', so I looked up the dates. Dirty Mind, 1979/80; Van Halen, 1983/84. Now look up the respective entries on Wikipedia. Van Halen gets paragraphs of technically specific praise – 'driven by a keyboard line, played on an Oberheim OB-X' – and self-glorifying quotes: 'We recut it once in one take for sonic reasons.' Does Prince get similar praise for his far-sighted innovation, for creating the template for so much pop-rock to come? No, he gets: 'demo-like'. Which is typical: reams of purple prose for the latecomer white rockers, while the black artist's risky investment is derided, overlooked or taken for granted.

It's spot on ...

Anyway, maybe say some stuff about Prince.

sevendaughters

that's really down to Wikipedia, Ian! Prince's work has been academicised for a while now because it is that good and important: https://www.jstor.org/stable/853046?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

indeed I always thought one of the many discourses surrounding him, beyond sex/purple/namechange was his general status as polymath of performance and production, and would say his contribution is generally thought to be more important than Van Halen - who attracts a certain kind of nerd. not saying there's no racism here, but I think that's a slighty uncharitable twisting by that writer.

Funcrusher

August 06, 2019, 05:18:53 PM #2 Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 05:41:23 PM by Funcrusher
Haven't thought about or read Ian Penman in years, but 80's hi falutin NME writers will always have a place in my heart. That said, his point there is just bobbins. There are many examples in which black artists are underrated and overlooked compared to often inferior white artists, but the idea that Prince has been critically overlooked, least of all compared to Van Halen, is just tosh. Certainly in his imperial 80's period he had god status for critics and was written about very extensively.

Endicott

Yes, I'm forced to agree with Funcrusher on this.

Have you tried his first album, For You, yet pancreas? Don't overlook it. A 19yo Prince writes, plays, and produces the whole LP.

The Culture Bunker

I got a bit confused by the first bit, as I always thought 'Jump' by the Pointer Sisters was the song ripping off 'Dirty Mind'. Never really made the Van Halen connection, but I see the point.

kalowski

Quote from: pancreas on August 06, 2019, 04:45:02 PM
Ian Penman seems to write about music rather well. He wrote about Prince in a recent LRB. Having basically never listened to Prince before, I've been making my way through his rather substantial catalogue. Hugely interesting, inventive stuff, no? Sign O The Times in particular is dizzyingly creative.

This bit resonated (footnote 2):

It's spot on ...

Anyway, maybe say some stuff about Prince.
It was a terrific, and well argued, piece. However, I don't fully agree with Penman's claims that Prince was just treading water after Lovesexy, and if I have the time I'll knock up a list of 50 great tracks post 1990.
The issue was that Prince was utterly brilliant from 82-88 so anything that follows looks poor in comparison. Although it's also very true that he couldn't deal with rap, and seemed to recruit very poor rappers for his bands (eg Tony M)

Twed

Quote from: pancreas on August 06, 2019, 04:45:02 PM
Having basically never listened to Prince before, I've been making my way through his rather substantial catalogue.
You lucky bastard.

jamiefairlie

Quote from: Funcrusher on August 06, 2019, 05:18:53 PM
Haven't thought about or read Ian Penman in years, but 80's hi falutin NME writers will always have a place in my heart. That said, his point there is just bobbins. There are many examples in which black artists are underrated and overlooked compared to often inferior white artists, but the idea that Prince has been critically overlooked, least of all compared to Van Halen, is just tosh. Certainly in his imperial 80's period he had god status for critics and was written about very extensively.

Prince is shite but Ian Penman is a superb writer. Him and Morley were instrumental is setting the intellectual framework for the whole post-punk movement in the late 70s and early 80s, making the NME essential reading for pretentious wee arses with existential longings (like me).

Gulftastic

Do get hold of The Black Album. His last truly great work.




Golden E. Pump

Just look at my fucking avatar, you dirty old bollocks. Look at it.

thugler

August 07, 2019, 02:08:55 PM #12 Last Edit: August 07, 2019, 02:43:11 PM by thugler
'Darling Nikki' on the otherwise poptastic Purple Rain soundtrack, in which the titular character is found 'in a hotel lobby, masturbating with a magazine'. It's also the only weak song on an otherwise flawless album, a track I routinely skip

Not finding myself agreeing with this guy much, but an interesting article none the less

'The more prosaic truth may be that he suddenly realised how shockingly dull and pro-forma it sounded in comparison to his best work'

This is bullshit