As our little archival project digs a little deeper,
Prof Paul talks about how he relates to this cover of Prince’s When Doves Cry
by shambling early-nineties stumblebums, Bird’s Fate….
We’ve spoken in the past about our archival work. Slowly, Wurdz Boi, Celestial Steph and I are restoring the unpublished work of the Scottish shoegazers “Bird’s Fate”. It’s an exciting side project, starting with two songs we restored for last Christmas.
So imagine my surprise when Ricky texted me Friday morning that, while out and about in Edinburgh, he had stumbled upon a Scottish Prince Tribute Record, Purple Kilts, and there, as if by magic, was a Bird’s Fate cover of When Doves Cry.
Well, sample, scan, clean, slice, dice, upload, etc… and voila, we now have a third restored track by our defunct Scottish friends ready for you to hear.
Wurdz Boi is busy researching how this could have possibly come to be. It must have been the typical combination of contractual obligation, ill advised semi-ambition, and the Irn Bru/Laphroig/Lemsip cocktail the band was drinking at the time.
But of course, Ricky was shopping for Prince oddities because of Prince’s unexpected death. And we were lucky he found a record which intersected with our archival project at such a sad time. I’m sure Ricky will write about his feelings on Prince in an upcoming blog, but I thought perhaps I would share a few of my own.
I love Prince’s music. I never loved him because he was a weird outsider. I’ve never been confused with anyone purple, funky, or elven. But that music. The three big records Purple Rain, 1999, and Sign O the Times are so very, very good.
I remember hearing Little Red Corvette when I was, what, 11 years old in the summer of 1982, and having it be the first song which wasn’t, in some sense, safe. It was an intersection of music and adulthood which wasn’t just love and cotton candy and Abba. And which was performed and composed in a way which wasn’t – well – dumb.
But if you have your copy of 1999 to hand, go listen to All The Critics Love U In New York. And think that song is almost 35 years old. I’m pretty sure if it showed up on a Kanye record we would think it was innovative.
That musicianship, the adoption of technology, the crafting of songs – that’s why I love Prince. 1999 sounds crazy because he had one of the first LM-1 drum machines in the world. The reason Sign o’ the Times is so personal is because it is exactly that – a fully personal construction of two albums of songs. He played all the instruments and recorded those albums solo. On tape.
Sign o’ the Times is one of those records where every moment is great. Like Abbey Road, Pet Sounds, Exile on Main Street.
And I haven’t even got to Purple Rain. If I thought Little Red Corvette was somehow a transgression into my then suburban childhood, where do I even start with Darlin Nikki?
I could go on. But I won’t because there’s enough that’s been written on the internet already, some of it good, some of it dross.
But all of it telling of people whose understanding of what music could be – of what music could make them feel – was changed by Prince.
So, thanks for giving us that, Prince.