Prince – A Remembrance by According2g.com

Posted by The G on April 21, 2017 under The G Spot | Be the First to Comment

Photo by G.

Prince (1958 - 2016)

Prince (1958 – 2016)

April 21, 2016 started off for me as any other day in the dreadful 2016 – 3 months later, I still couldn’t believe David Bowie departed the earth in January and like so many fans of the arts, I was finding it hard to go on.  But on this day, I pulled myself out of bed to go to the gym at the crack of dawn, not because I wanted to, but because I had recently obtained an unreleased alternate version of one of my favorite Prince songs and I couldn’t wait to hear it in my Beats by Dre headphones.  Little did I know, that was the last time I would ever hear a Prince song before the terrible news broke several hours later that he was found dead – and of a drug overdose!

As Prince had been a worldwide superstar for 30 + years, it was no surprise that tributes from rock royalty to the President of the United States poured in.  I’ve been a fan of his music since I was 4 years old and though my fandom had reached some tumultuous times in recent years, each day was brimming with the possibility for me that Prince was going to  renounce his preachy religion, announce a last minute concert or songs from his legendary vault of unreleased music would come out.  Those possibilities and the nervous systems of so many of his hard core fans came to a screeching halt on April 21 when the news broke that Prince was dead.  Across the world, so many Prince fans told the same story – “People from all aspects of my life – from elementary school to former co-workers, ex-lovers and friends – got in touch with me to make sure I was OK and to offer their condolences because when they think of Prince, they think of me.”  Yes, many of us did not know the man personally, but to a lot of us his words broke through to us in places deeper than “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss,” “When Doves Cry,”or “Purple Rain,” touched the masses.  One of the great things about Prince was that you could be a fan at any commitment level and I am about to talk about the different levels of Princefandom I’ve witnessed in my years of loving his music and I am breaking it down for those who are unaware of the full extent of his artistic greatness.

  1. The “Greatest Hits” Fans.   If you were alive in the 1980s, maybe you loved Prince and maybe you didn’t, but one thing is for sure, you were exposed to his music. He was a hit factory for close to 15 years, where nearly every single he released became a huge anthem.  Coupled with his unique style, his love of the color purple, his mystique, his ability to seamlessly fuse sex and spirituality in the same breath and the iconic imagery in his music videos, his hits had crossover appeal in the same way that Michael Jackson, Madonna and Bruce Springsteen did even if their style of music wasn’t “your thing.”  However, these types of fans never bothered to dig any deeper than what they heard on the radio or what MTV (a cable TV channel that used to play music videos) used to show.  Post 1991 (which was the release year of one of his final commercially successful albums), whenever you’d mention his name, people would ask if he is still making music, to which you’d resoundingly roll your eyes and shame people for not knowing some of the deep album cuts.
  2. The Die Hards.  Being a die hard fan of Prince is different than being a die hard of most artists because of the sheer amount of work that Prince created. The only modern artist that comes close in terms of the amount of recorded songs is Bob Dylan, but Dylan rarely changes genres, whereas Prince could never be nailed down to a certain category – often fusing many of them within the same song!  In addition to having a nearly 40 year career, Prince officially released approximately 50 albums of original material in his own name, as well as over 100 music videos and four theatrically released feature films.  An impressive feat by itself, but that’s just the surface of how much additional music Prince recorded. He wrote and produced full albums for his “proteges” including Sheila E., The Time, Jill Jones, Vanity 6, Apollonia 6, The Family, Madhouse, Bria Valente, Tamar, Judith Hill, Mayte, Carmen Electra, Ingrid Chavez, The New Power Generation (also full length albums by The Flesh, MC Flash and The Rebels have never seen the light of day officially), and he gave away tracks to the likes of The Bangles, Sheena Easton, Patti LaBelle, Madonna, Chaka Khan, No Doubt, Ani Di Franco, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Kate Bush, Martika, Mavis Staples, George Clinton, Andre Cymone and the list goes on.  Being conservative, that would add another 25-30 albums worth of songs, bringing the number of albums of songs he officially released to over 70. But it doesn’t just end there!  He had so much creative energy that he practically lived in the recording studio making hundreds and possibly thousands of songs (yes, thousands!) that have been locked away in his vault for potential future release.  But that’s not all!  He toured the world endlessly over those 39 years and he wasn’t satisfied merely playing to a stadium of people and then going home after the show.  He often spent the afternoon of a show day rehearsing new material and then played an after-show of completely different material at a small club after the main show (a cigarette after sex, if you will) and he did that for over 25 years!  Not only did he pull out rare songs to perform, but he often tested out new material, performed covers of his favorite songs, performed a song one time (and never went back to it ever again) and drastically changed the arrangements of the songs you already knew, so every time you saw Prince in concert (even if it was 2 nights in a row or twice in the same day), you got to see a dramatically different show each time.    Needless to say, people started bootlegging the concerts and nearly every show he performed over these four decades exists in some format, bringing the total number of hours of recorded Prince music to tens of thousands!  Because of the vast array of music that exists, the die-hards can be further broken down into these categories:
    1. The Collectors.  These are the people that simply must have every single thing he did from the officially released albums, the extremely shitty quality bootlegs (because the stuff was not officially released, sometimes the master source is a copy of a copy of a copy of a tape or in the case of live recordings, sometimes it sounds like someone was in the parking lot recording the show – but many perfect or damn near perfect quality recordings exist) the protege stuff (which most of it is criminally out of print), to the promotional items released at the time (which often sell for a hefty price tag on sites like E-bay), to the rare fan club only singles, to the merchandise,  to the people that scour the internet saving every photo that exists (because he did a ton of photo shoots too, and he was very controlling of his image, so he never looked like anything less than a rock star from another world in each shot).  There are other fans who don’t collect all these items, but instead travel the world to see Prince.  That can put a huge dent in your wallet (or your nervous system as Prince is notorious for announcing shows with less than 24 hours notice).  These fans line up all day to be in the front and they are rewarded as Prince makes love to his electric guitar on stage and sets the place on fire with his one of a kind performances.  Despite personally going to approximately 50 shows/appearances, I just want as much music as I can get my hands on.  To me (and to so many other fans), it’s a drug.  It’s the juiciest steak you’ve ever eaten. It’s your friend.  It’s your lover.  The fast and funky songs make you want to get up and shake your ass in the middle of a business meeting. The ballads seduce you and make you want to take your clothes off in public – no matter who is watching!  Most of all, if you are all alone in the world, Prince’s music will always have a lyric, a funky riff or a guitar lick that will rock your world and give you a reason to go on.  Whether you are hearing the songs for the first time or the 200th, they sound fresh as ever and with every listen, they hit you in that place that Prince excelled in hitting every time.  Also, just when you think you “know” Prince, an unreleased song leaks out somehow and the lyrics reveal another side of Prince you never knew existed, thus making him even more amazing and enigmatic that you already thought was possible!
    2. The Bootleg Collectors.  Within the realm of the collectors are the bootleg collectors.  As I mentioned above, there are thousands of unreleased songs known to exist and hundreds of them, as of this writing, (enough for SEVERAL full length careers) have leaked out of the vault.  The cause of these leaks is unknown but some of the popular theories are:  he was careless with his stuff, he was a jerk to the people in the studio – either treating them terribly or not paying them and songs leaked in retaliation to his treatment of them; he leaked the songs himself knowing that the world is not capable of digesting all the music he felt compelled to create and he wanted to give the people who were willing to listen a chance to hear these tracks. Whatever the cause of the leaks are, the songs are traded freely among fans, although there are also shady but enterprising fans who have started their own bootleg record labels and sell the tracks to fans who aren’t internet savvy or have no connections.  Needless to say, there are levels of rarities out there in the unreleased music realm and despite the limited number of people who are this serious about the music, there are those fans who have access to stuff that “normal diehards” do not have access to and hoard it for reasons unknown.  One such track being hoarded is “Wally,” a 1986 track that is reportedly the most personal song Prince ever wrote.  The fabled backstory says that Prince destroyed the tape after it was recorded because it was too personal.  Without going into too much detail, it exists and the upper echelon of Prince die-hards have it, so rest assured that you will probably hear it one day!
  3. The Purple Kool Aid Drinkers.  In his passing, Prince’s countless acts of kindness were finally revealed to the public.  In his lifetime, he usually wanted to remain anonymous about his generosity.  He donated money to help teach music to children and was also a silent activist in the fight for human equality.  However, to those in the inner circle, he was not always regarded as such a nice guy.  This is a similar story you will hear from other artists who were insanely creative.  As I can only speak from stories I’ve heard, I will not air out these grievances because they are not mine to address, but suffice it to say if these countless stories from numerous associates, former lovers, employees and fans are true, where he excelled in artistic prowess, he often lacked in humanity.  Many of these stories are well documented in the community, but this is where the Purple Kool Aid Drinkers come in.  They find it impossible that Prince could be anything other than perfect to everyone at all times.  After all, most of his songs were about love, peace and tolerance and he seamlessly fused spirituality and sexuality in a way that made it accessible even to those who believe in nothing.  If you say anything disparaging about Prince in public or online, get ready because these people will come for you and will show no mercy (despite their acknowledgement of the fact that Prince primarily sings about love and togetherness)!  It is impossible for these people to admit that the man did not always practice what he preached (from ruining his mainstream career by protesting his treatment by his record label by writing the word “slave” on his face, despite willingly signing the largest record deal in history at the time to fighting so hard for his artistic freedom to protect his musical legacy but upon his death he left no will, thus not caring at all about the music he spent his lifetime protecting.  Also, he was a strong advocate of being anti-drug and in the end, he died of a drug overdose – even if it was as reported “accidental.”).  There are also levels of Purple Kool Aid Drinkers whereby to non-fans, they will correct any error they hear about Prince not because you want to, but because you have to clear his name and let everyone know just how brilliant he was.  They feel (and I agree with this) that it’s damned shame that too much of the world only knows the hits when there are hundreds of great songs to rock your world, so the sooner the world catches on, the happier of a place it will be but at the end of the day, I am glad that the music brings me joy, so if you don’t feel the same, that’s for you to decide.  If you’re a die-hard Purple Kool Aid drinker, chances are you regale the purple community (or worse, your social media accounts) with your knowledge because you know someone who knows someone in the inner circle, or hell – maybe it is you that was in the inner circle, so you “know for a fact” that [insert Prince myth here] happened.  Pix or it didn’t happen!  The upside to the Purple Kool Aid Drinkers is that if you can just focus on the music, the fans will become some of your best and most loyal friends because for the reasons listed above, his music touches fans in the same way (regardless of race, sexuality or religion).
  4. The love/haters – It is totally possible to dip your toe into many of these categories (and at the same time!) and I know that I hovered in this category in the years leading up to his death.  Because of the reasons above – the amount of music that touched my soul, his strong work ethic, his rejection of failure and his words serving as guidance counselors and teachers, he was my favorite, but in the last decades of his life, he became a Jehovah’s Witness and his lifestyle became contrary to the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place.  What turned me on (even as a 4 year old) was the fact that I felt like a misfit on this planet and his lyrics reassured me that I am doing nothing wrong and in fact, my differences are something to celebrate and never back away from.  For that unapologetic way of thinking, he probably saved more lives than he was even aware of.  However, when he became ultra-religious, his formerly open minded way of thinking was replaced by a narrow view of the world that called people out if they didn’t believe what he believed.  On my first trip to Paisley Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2001, within moments of entering Prince’s version of Graceland, I wandered into a private room and ran smack dab into the man! Before I could fan girl out, his first words to me were “did you know there is only one God?”  This was a subject I am pretty well researched in (because thanks to his music as well as other sources, I had been curious enough to investigate and form my own opinion on the subject) but instead of listening to what I had to say, we got into a shouting match!  It was certainly not my intention to argue with one of my idols, but I was not about to be a doormat!  I yelled, “you’re not even listening to me, Prince!” and he shouted back that I was “wrong” and when I tried talking to him like a rational human being, he just kept repeating over and over that there is only one god (and I remember tripping out that this conversation even existed and in Paisley Park, of all places!), but it did and I lost a ton of respect for him that day.  He clearly wanted to be surrounded by “yes men,” and I refused to be that, even to someone who was basically my own personal version of a god.  Because his music literally saved my life at times where all else was black, I agreed to disagree with him but although I could forgive, I had a hard time forgetting.  It was extremely disappointing to me considering how much time, blood, sweat, tears (and money!) I’d invested in Prince for the greater part of my life.  It was not helped by the fact that at numerous times in the later years, he sued die-hard fans, put the kibosh on loving artistic tributes to him and was very stubborn about letting new generations discover his art on streaming music services.  His magnetic energy is the reason all of us came back even though we felt like scorned ex-lovers and I know that secretly we all hoped that eventually, he would go back to being the open-minded person we all fell in love with in the first place.  He didn’t need to sing “Sexy MF” or hump the stage anymore, but for the love of Jehovah, we just wanted him to stop using “duck” when we all know what he really wanted to say.  Sadly, he did not, but if even one song recorded post 2001 that has the F-word exists in his vault, that will help soften the blow.
  5. The Post-Death Fans.  A whole new generation discovered his music on April 21, 2016 that had previously not been exposed to his work and to those people – WELCOME!  Have a look around and sort yourself into one of these categories.  If you never get past the hits, you have dozens of tracks that defy genre identification.  If you choose to dig beneath the surface, you will find an impressive body of work, one more vast than almost any other recording artist of any era!  Hopefully you’ll discover some songs that will become your best friends for the rest of your life.

As a life long fan, who has lived and loved with the music and as someone who has witnessed the ups and downs of his career from afar and from the front row and now that we can look back on the entire story, here are a few observations that I’ve made about the life and work of this remarkable man:

1. He was a bad ass.  His sound and fashion sense were unique (from matching his high heeled pumps to the one-of-a-kind outfits he wore to his unique facial hair) and he surrounded himself with bad ass musicians and they had to be because they had to keep up with him.

2. His work ethic is unparalleled.  He worked harder than every other popular musician (it’s not an opinion – it’s a fact.  His punishing touring schedule, the number of shows he performed each day while on tour, the hours spent rehearsing and the amount of material that was recorded in the studio make him arguably the most prolific recording artist of the modern age).

3. He did not make mistakes.  Somehow, his voice always sounded great (and he regularly played a 2 hour stadium show and then several hours later did a completely different show at a small club), he never hit bad notes and he was not known for canceling shows (showing up extremely fucking late – yes, canceling – no!).  It makes me wonder about his drug use, because it has been suggested that he was not a stranger to drugs, but drugs often make people get sloppy, and you can say a lot of things about Prince, but you cannot accuse him of being sloppy (aside from the events of his final week on earth).

4. He never gave less than 100%, looked like a rock star from another world at all times and all the while making music that cast a spell over millions of fans across the globe.  He didn’t just perform, from the second he stepped onto the stage to the time he left it, he was electrifying!  He challenged his audiences to show up as their best selves and in return he gave his.  In an era where everyone dresses down, you always went to a Prince show dressed to the 9s and he rewarded you by wearing a sharp tailor made outfit that made the ladies swoon and the guys wishing they had that much charisma and swagger.

5. He chose to set the trend rather than follow it.  If he believed in something – no matter how ridiculous, he saw it through, even if it meant alienating fans or even the public at large (when he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol or suing fans, for example).   At times, this found his message being contradictory – but I guess it’s possible to change your belief system repeatedly as new epiphanies come in and/or, it was his Gemini nature to be the yin and yang depending on the day?   He wasn’t afraid to fail.  He took risks by discovering and promoting new talent repeatedly throughout his career and if he wrote songs that were not suitable to be released under his own name, he generously gave them away to other artists he felt could capture the sound he was trying to achieve.

6. He changed and grew constantly and could kick your ass musically whether the song – fast or slow – had vocals or was a jazz, rock or funk jam.  He never rested on the laurels of the past and was always looking forward and most importantly, he was always living in the moment.  This is evidenced by the fact that he recorded a ton of music, put it aside and never stopped making new material or performing (changing the arrangements of his old stuff) until the very end.  He didn’t worry about the minutiae about how this stuff world be released and in fact, he did not leave a will and to not think of the future is about as living in the moment as you can possibly be – despite it infuriating those he left behind to collectively shake our heads and wonder what the heck he was thinking!  His estate is currently in total shambles and in less than one year since his death, his music has already been licensed to streaming networks (something he was fiercely against in his life) and his sanctuary Paisley Park is hosting a “celebration” not on his birthday, but on the anniversary of his death date.  It’s my opinion that he would not want either of these things, but if you don’t write your wishes down, this is what happens.

7. It is really difficult to think of Prince in the past tense.  His music is so passionate and alive.  His performances have so much energy.  In his music he was able to achieve super human things, but at the end of the day, he was a mere mortal. Every time I go to a non-Prince show, I still feel that at any moment, he is going to come out from backstage and jam. At the time, dropping everything at a moment’s notice to see him perform could be extremely tiresome, but now we’d give anything just for one more show.   It’s a shame that the book is closed on that chapter of our lives.  But despite all the not so nice things I’ve said about him throughout this article (it’s all part of the duality that was and is Prince), I am eternally grateful for the music he made and for the people that I’ve met because of his music.  Like all geniuses, the man and the music are extremely complicated and it is my wish that even if people don’t get obsessed to the level of collecting all the bootlegs and ephemera, that they at least realize what an extremely talented and once-in-a-lifetime original soul was on this planet from 1958 – 2016.

What are some of my highlights of being a fan for over 35 years?

  1. Dancing on stage with Prince twice.  Once in Minneapolis during his 2001 Celebration at the arena near Paisley Park (and if you follow me on social media, you’ve surely seen the photo!) and once in Los Angeles at a secret show at the Hollywood Palladium.  I am told that Madonna and Lenny Kravitz were in the audience that night and they got to see my funky dance moves.
  2. Working on his double CD “Ultimate Prince.”  Myself and fellow uber fan Mathieu Bitton were selected to work on a double CD of Prince’s greatest hits, which saw the first release on CD of many of Prince’s beloved 12″ versions.  There was a lot of drama when the cd was first issued, and it was bittersweet that after his death, the CD reached the top 10 in many parts of the world.  It warms my heart to know that the love we put into that CD was the first introduction of his music to legions of fans that discovered him after his death.
  3. The fans!  I have met people from all over the world who are some of my great friends and I know for certain that we would not have bonded the way we did without his music.  I’ve met people of all races, genders, religious beliefs, etc. and it makes no difference when it comes to loving each other.  I think that is probably the most important thing about Prince’s music and in these troubled times, I hope that the love spreads.
  4. Singing “Play That Funky Music White Boy” with Prince.  I was at an after-show in New York at a tiny place called Butter and I was literally inches from Prince the entire night.  He covered Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” and the entire night I was groovin’ and singing along to every song.   When the chorus rolled around, he stuck the microphone in my face and made me sing the chorus.  While it was a huge honor, I don’t think singing is my strong point (based on a bootleg I’ve heard of the recording).
  5. Becoming friends/acquaintances with his a lot of his associates.  Though these people may not be household names to the masses, to me they are gods and goddesses!  I’ve worshiped these people alongside of Prince for decades and having some of them support my own artistic endeavors or recognize me when we run into each other is mind blowing and I don’t take it for granted either!
  6. The music.  As I’ve said before, the songs are like long lost friends that you can always turn to when no one else is around.  When an unreleased song surfaces, it’s like hitting the jackpot and when you listen to a rehearsal or live recording, you hear the feeling of what it’s like to create art.  I never cease to be blown away.

Prince, if you are out there, please know your fans miss you so much and you have left a void that can never be replaced by anyone.  Nothing Compares 2 U.  To quote another one of your songs, I speak for all of the fans when I say, “love is too weak to define, just what you mean [to us].”   THANK U!

 

“Journal of Grievances” by Geoffrey Dicker – Available Now!

Posted by The G on September 20, 2016 under The G Spot | Comments are off for this article

Artwork by Carl Paoli.  Book by G.

 

Warning: this book is recommended for immature audiences only. It contains ridiculous amounts of adult language and really twisted situations. Journal of Grievances is a controversially raw and uncensored look into the ups and downs (both in and out of the bedroom) of a struggling, single gay male writer in New York. Told through daily journal entries on his year long approach to 40, the protagonist spills his guts with hilarious wit as he waxes philosophically and analyzes his raunchy sex life, drug addictions, debauched relationships, life encounters, and his frustrations with society while navigating through relationship drama and job-loss as he struggles to find his place in the world. This is Geoffrey Dicker’s first novel. He asks that if you are easily offended by profanity or graphic depictions of gay sex to please not buy this book. Alternately, he advises the reader to flip to any page and promises that within 2 sentences, you’ll be laughing.

Buy it now on Amazon.com

According2g.com’s Top 15 Albums & Songs of 2015

Posted by The G on December 1, 2015 under G Reviews | Read the First Comment

Photos, videos, words and autographs obtained by G.

If you are unfamiliar with any of these bands, songs or albums listed below, I urge you to open your mind and check them out.  Maybe they won’t be your taste or maybe they will change your life!  And now… According2g.com’s top 15 albums + songs of 2015!!!

Currents by Tame Impala

Currents by Tame Impala

  1. “Currents” by Tame Impala.  By now you should know I am obsessed with this band.  They fuse psychedelic rock and and pop seamlessly on this album, their third, and I can’t get enough of it.  Lead singer Kevin Parker’s voice sounds like a fusion of John Lennon and George Harrison with a little bit of reverb on his vocals.  The opening track “Let It Happen” is over 7 minutes long and I listen to it over and over and over again and months later, I am still not sick of it.  By now you’d think I’d have the lyrics memorized, but the processing on his voice makes the end part sound like he’s signing “Shoobie doobie doobie” to me.  And I’m not complaining!  It makes me smile every time I put this song on repeat.  The songs on “Currents” move away from being so rock oriented and this collection of tracks are the grooviest songs Tame Impala has done to date.  If this is the direction they are headed in, I am ready to take the ride.  I recommend this album, but if albums aren’t your thing, check out “The Less I Know The Better,” “Let It Happen,” “Eventually,” “Cause I’m A Man” and “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.”  If those songs don’t rock your world, we are no longer friends 🙂
Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey

Honeymoon by Lana Del Rey

2. “Honeymoon” by Lana Del Rey.  I’m really glad the world finally stopped hating Lana Del Rey and came to the realization that there is no one else out there in the music scene that is like her.  From her dark lyrics to her noir-esque music, Lana’s songs sound like mini 5 minute soundtracks to David Lynch films that don’t exist yet.  Love her or hate her, no one else opens an album with a 6 minute song that is nearly a capella, save for an orchestral arrangement when the name of the song is sung.  Her lyrics are badass (“you could be a bad motherfucker, but that don’t make you a man”) but she still gets her heart broken (“Ever since my baby went away, it’s been the blackest day/ All I hear is Billie Holliday/ It’s all that I play”) and in between she name checks legends and talks about many of our favorite subjects including getting high by the beach, appreciating art deco and invites you to move to California and become a freak like her.  Oh Lana, you have my heart!

Alex Kapranos of FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)

Alex Kapranos of FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks)

3. “FFS” by FFS (Franz Ferdinand and Sparks).  Who would have thought pairing 90s rockers Franz Ferdinand and 70s duo Sparks would have been such a great idea, but whoever matched these two bands up deserves a medal.  The 16 song (if you have the deluxe edition) album is as theatrical as a Broadway show and has enough grooves and quirky lyrics to make you listen to this album repeatedly, whilst occasionally laughing out loud at the absurdity.  The opener “Johnny Delusional” talks about not being attractive and trying to impress a hot woman.  With song titles like “Dictator’s Son,” “The Man Without a Tan,” “The Power Couple,” the band knows how to take the piss out of themselves.  In fact, the regular edition of the album closes out with “Collaborations Don’t Work,” and “Piss Off” which is obviously telling critics to piss off, since the results of this collaboration (that does work!) are some of the best work either band has done.  The deluxe edition features the song “So Many Bridges” and just from hearing the title, you think it’s going to be a reflective song, and instead they sing about how there are “so many bridges in the world to jump off from.”  This album rules!

Jarryd James

Jarryd James

4. “Thirty One” by Jarryd James.  Jarryd James is a singer/songwriter from Australia who has a nice mixture of soul, R&B and pop in his songs.  In the age of the piano ballad that makes you want to slit your wrists, Jarryd James is the relief as his music has a beat and many times, a funky little groove.  His album has yet to make a splash in America, but I think with the right marketing, he has the potential to be a big star.  I happened to see that he was playing a concert in New York and the promoter inserted a youtube link to his track “Do You Remember?” and I pressed play, heard about 5 seconds of the song and said “I need to see this guy sing.”  It was a great decision and I enjoyed every song I heard that night and when his album came out, I found the same love for every track on the record.  If you are looking for a starting point, let me recommend “Give Me Something” (for a more upbeat taste) and if you need a slow jam, check out “High.”  I really hope Jarryd’s career takes off because I love this album so much.  I am looking forward to hearing more from Jarryd James and you should be too!

Adele

Adele

5. “25” by Adele.  Hello!  A brilliant album of sad songs.  Adele is so charming when she is interviewed (I’ve met her 3 times and I can confirm the charm), her laugh makes the world a brighter place.  But sad songs are her specialty, so we’ve gotta let Adele be Adele.  Luckily songs like “Send my Love (To Your New Lover)” and “Water Under the Bridge” give us a glimpse of Adele when she is at her most up beat.  The world is her oyster, so hopefully we will get a tour and more music without having to wait years in between.  But Adele lives by her schedule perhaps if more artists did that, we’d get more artful works such as “25.”

Borns

Borns

6. “Dopamine” by Borns.  If T. Rex were alive and making music with the band MGMT in the age of the millennial, it would sound a lot like Borns.  His songs are groovy and soulful with a little bit of psychedelia mixed in.  You’ve got to watch the video for his single “Electric Love,” and if the song and video don’t blow you away, then try the title track “Dopamine,” which will have you repeating the chorus “wanna feel that stream of dopamine” over and over again.  “10,000 Emerald Pools” and “The Emotion” are two of my favorite songs on this great debut.  If you scour the archives of this site, you will find videos of Garrett Borns covering Bowie and Elton John.  You’re welcome!

Judith Hill

Judith Hill

7. “Back In Time” by Judith Hill.  Judith Hill is so bad ass!  She’s sung backing vocals for a list of legends including Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson and for her latest album “Back in Time,” Prince produced it!  This production gives us a throwback to the purple proteges of the 1980s when every song on the record is great and it sounds like a Prince production.  I saw Judith Hill perform a few of these songs live and the studio renditions don’t do her voice justice because this woman can SING!  If you don’t throw your hands up church style when you hear songs like “Cry Cry Cry,” you might need to get your ears checked.  “As Trains Go By,” the album’s opener is that funk that is sorely missing from Prince’s own output these days and “Jammin’ in the Basement” will make you do just that.  Hopefully the world will catch on to the amazing Judith Hill because she deserves to have a career as great and powerful as her voice.

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue

8. “Kylie Christmas” by Kylie Minogue.  Aside from a handful of rock songs, I typically despise Christmas music.  I was pleasantly surprised to find Kylie Minogue’s Christmas record to be a mix of classic x-mas songs with traditional arrangements (“It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” “Santa Claus is Coming To Town,” where they’ve seamlessly spliced in Frank Sinatra’s voice) to 1980’s covers (“2000 Miles” by the Pretenders, “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses – but Kylie’s version is paired with Iggy Pop! and “Only You,” a Yaz(oo) cover “Only You” paired with funny man James Corden – proving he’s got a nice set of pipes) to a disco Christmas song – “100 Degrees,” a duet with her sister, Danii Minogue.  It’s got a little something for everyone and you’ll need the deluxe edition if you want some of the better tracks on the album.  Ho Ho Ho!

Disclosure

Disclosure

9. “Caracal” by Disclosure.  Not as strong as their debut, the sophomore release from the cute Lawrence brothers has some really strong tracks.  In fact, when the tracks are strong, they hit it out of the park and when they are weak, they are little more than album filler.  Their collaborations with The Weeknd (“Nocturnal”), Sam Smith (“Omen”) and Lorde (“Magnets”) make you wish they would do full albums with these artists.

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson

10 “Uptown Special” by Mark Ronson.  Mark Ronson + Kevin Parker of Tame Impala = G Heaven.  There are in fact 3 collaborations with the pair including “Daffodils,” which is a track so funky, I’ve had it on repeat a lot this year.  But the collaborations don’t stop there, Ronson also works again with Andrew Wyatt of the electronic group Miike Snow (sic) as well as producer Jeff Bhasker and there’s even a little bit of Stevie Wonder’s harmonica featured to open the album.  The record also features the mega smash “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars, and to be honest, Bruno’s music is so derivative to my ears that this song sort of sounds like a Saturday Night Live parody of Eddie Murphy doing James Brown, but that’s just me.  The music is funky though, and that’s what matters.  This record is a little patchy in comparison to Ronson’s last effort “Record Collection,” but I still love it.

Young Empires

Young Empires

11. “The Gates” by Young Empires.   There is no greater champion for this band than me, and I was so excited that their full length debut record has finally seen the light of day.  Their music is dance rock, funk punk or “haute rock” as they like to say.  Call it what you want, there are 10 tracks to shake your ass on the dance floor and some of my favorite songs are the reggae tinged “Never Die Young,” “So Cruel,” and “Mercy.”  Below, you can check out a live version of “Sunshine.”  Apologies for it being so dark – that’s rock and roll!

Matt Bellamy of Muse

Matt Bellamy of Muse

12. “Drones” by Muse.  Not their strongest album, but there are so many Muse moments, from their very political lyrics, to Matt Bellamy’s high pitched voice, stadium anthem ready choruses and my favorite moment on the album – the song “Revolt” where Matt Bellamy tells the listener to do exactly that!  FUCK YEAH MUSE!

Bernard Sumner of New Order

Bernard Sumner of New Order

13. “Music Complete” by New Order.  Peter Hook is noticeably absent on bass, but there are guest stars a plenty that range from good “Superheated” (featuring Brandon Flowers of The Killers) to really good “Tutti Frutti” and “People on the High Line” (featuring Elly Jackson of LaRoux) to cringe worthy “Stray Dog” (featuring Iggy Pop).  The strongest tracks on the record, according2g are the obvious tribute to Peter Hook “Unlearn This Hatred” and “Plastic.”

 

Simon LeBon of Duran Duran

Simon LeBon of Duran Duran

14. “Paper Gods” by Duran Duran.  Duran Duran’s career in the 2000s has been all over the map as they released the near-career killing, but mostly pleasant “Pop Trash,” the comeback, but not hugely popular album “Astronaut,” the absolutely horrible “Red Carpet Massacre” (PLEASE don’t ever work with Timbaland again), the criminally underrated “All You Need Is Now” and the spotty “Paper Gods.”  As FFS somewhat rightly noted in entry number 3, collaborations don’t work.  This rings true for some truly WTF moments as DD have collaborated with Kieza on the otherwise good track “Last Night In the City” but she over-divas her vocals and that has no business on a Duran Duran album.  The first single “Pressure Off” also suffers from the ill conceived collaboration with Janelle Monae.  Don’t count Duran Duran out though – their live show is still great and Simon LeBon’s voice sounds better than it has in years.  They perhaps need to just focus on their strengths which are best made with the 4 remaining members of the band.

Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson

15. “Unbreakable” by Janet Jackson.   It’s just so good to hear Janet sing again after the death of her brother and almost a decade long hiatus, she could sing the phone book and it would have made the list.  Don’t ever leave us again Janet!  And check out “No Sleeep” (sic).  It’s classic JJ!

Deluxe Edition:

Madonna, D'Angelo

Madonna, D’Angelo

16 / 17.  “Rebel Heart” by Madonna and “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and The Vanguard.  Both of these albums were released at the end of 2014, so they don’t really count.  Well, Madonna’s record leaked over 6 months early and didn’t see an official release until 2015, but the versions she picked to give the fans something different than what leaked are nearly all inferior to the leaked versions.   A pity, since this was Madonna’s strongest studio effort in a decade!  On the other hand, “Black Messiah” is a fucking masterpiece by the recluse of R&B, D’Angelo.  Every song on it is not only great, but essential listening.  Let’s hope he is inspired, after the universal love he got for this album, to continue to release music in intervals shorter than every 14 years.

Here are my Top 15 songs of 2015.  I’m going to save the commentary, so seek out these tracks!

  1. Erik Hassle – “No Words”
  2. Nervo (featuring Jake Shears, Kylie Minogue, Nile Rodgers) – “The Other Boys”
  3. Mac Demarco – “Just To Put Me Down”
  4. Father John Misty – “I Love You Honeybear”
  5. Yacht – “Matter”
  6. Leon Bridges – “River”
  7. Charli XCX – “Sucker”
  8. Duffy – “Whole Lotta Love”
  9. The Maccabees – “Marks To Prove It”
  10. Penguin Prison – “Show Me The Way”
  11. Guy Garvey – “Angela’s Eyes”
  12. Beck – “Dreams”
  13. Van Hunt – “The Fun Rises The Fun Sets”
  14. Lianne LaHavas – “Unstoppable”
  15. Courtney Barnett – “Small Poppies”

 

What’s on your list?

10 Horrifying Lyrics from The Weeknd + Live Video of “Can’t Feel My Face”

Posted by The G on November 21, 2015 under G Reviews, G Videos, The G Spot | 3 Comments to Read

Photos, Words and Video by G.

Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd

Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd

In the 1980s when I was a kid and I turned on the radio to the current pop music stations, I vividly remember my parents thinking our music was “just a bunch of noise” in comparison to the classic rock and roll of the era they grew up in.  Years later, we gained an appreciation of each others music primarily based on the lasting effects both kinds of music had on the world.  I’ve always tried to stay current on the latest in music and in the streaming music generation and it gets harder and and harder to find music that I could find myself wanting to listen to one time, let alone over and over again.  I have found myself retreating to “obscure indie bands” so that at a minimum, I can listen to music being made and sung by actual musicians.  I am really not a fan of the autotune world we live in, where it takes over 5 writers to compose the most simplistic and banal lyrics imaginable.  I have also found that mainstream radio, which I used to enjoy so much, is so offensive to my ear drums, I’d rather listen to silence than what the current pop channels have to offer.

With that being said, for a lot of the modern music super stars, I am familiar with their names (primarily because they can’t seem to keep out of the scandal pages for being despicable people – but we’ll save that discussion for another time), and I find I don’t know the music that makes them famous.  When a name keeps popping up, I often take a chance and go see them live and I experience their music for the first time when they are standing before me.  Also a discussion for another time – try it some time.  It really takes you out of your comfort zone and I can say from doing this hundreds of times, there are not a lot of people that are willing to take this chance.  When I did this for Miley Cyrus last year, I found myself feeling like an “old person” as I was completely shocked at how bad her music was (despite thinking she had a good voice) and also what a bad role model she is for teens, her main audience, who attended the concert without parental supervision, dressing up like complete sluts and in winter time, no less!  Trust me, I am one of the most liberal people you’ll ever meet and I found myself cringing with horror, which messes with my head because it makes me feel like I am an old person who is judging the youth.

Enter Abel Tesfaye, also known by his stage name: The Weeknd (sic).  Three of his songs slipped onto my radar: “Nocturnal,” a dance track with Disclosure, “Prisoner,” a duet with Lana Del Rey (a track I don’t really care for, but I like Lana’s vocals) and “Can’t Feel My Face,” an uptempo track that almost rips off the music for a song called “Jaded” by Soul Decision verbatim (but I like that song).  That was enough for me to go see The Weeknd, who played 4 sold out shows at New York arenas (2 at Madison Square Garden and 2 at Barlcays Center in Brooklyn).  If a performer can play to approximately 70,000 people over the course of 1 week, his music must be something special, so I took a chance and went to see him at Barclays Center on November 19, 2015.

At the conclusion of The Weeknd’s show, I found that he has a decent voice and I enjoyed the light show that included explosions and fire.  What I didn’t enjoy was walking out of the concert feeling dumbfounded in a similar manner (but with different circumstances) like I did when I left the Miley Cyrus concert a year ago at the same venue.  I should also point out that I do my best to avoid the news, but occasionally, items hit my radar, typically after they are discussed ad nauseum.  One such item is “Black Lives Matter.”  It’s hard to escape that sound byte.  With what little I know on the matter, one way to make that so is for all of us, black, white or green to start treating each other with respect.  Seems like a no-brainer to me, but to the 70,000 that sang along word for word to songs by The Weeknd, the so called “N-Word” was uttered so many times that I lost count.  In my opinion, it sets any progress this movement might have made backwards by leaps and bounds and not only is this guy selling out arenas, but he is also winning awards for his music!  WHAT???  Nearly every song is bragging about being high out of his mind, fucking, beating up and degrading bitches (his words, not mine) and causing havoc with his niggaz (his words, not mine).   Sounds like he should be in jail instead of being celebrated as the “new Michael Jackson.”  This is like a Kathy Bates in Misery moment, where you want to shout “HAVE YOU ALL GOT AMNESIA!?” Do parents know what their kids are really listening to?  And if so, Madonna and 2 Live Crew are owed an apology because at the time, they were mocked for being too scandalous and that stuff could be taught in church in comparison to what The Weeknd was telling his followers!   So with that, I decided to compile a list of 10 of the most horrifying lyrics I heard at The Weeknd’s concert.  The items that make the list are included for their horrifying lyrical content, because if we wanted to do one with all the bad grammar and misspelled words, we could be here for days.

After the jump, see if you are as horrified as I am or if you think I am an oldster that needs to get with the times.  Please let me know in the comments section, and include your age if you would, please.

Read more of this article »

Exclusive Live Videos from Disclosure, Young Empires, Borns and Blur

Posted by The G on October 26, 2015 under G Videos | Comments are off for this article

Photo and all HD videos by G.

Disclosure

Disclosure

 

Need a fix of some world exclusive live videos?  I’m here to help!  This post has SIX world exclusive videos just for you and the post below has an additional six.  Who loves ya baby?  G does!

Let’s kick things off with UK dance duo Disclosure performing “Jaded” at Madison Square Garden on October 25, 2015.

While we are in the dancing mood, check out Canada’s Haute Rock band Young Empires, performing “Sunshine” at Mercury Lounge on October 17, 2015.

Next up, is the newcomer Borns, who has a T. Rex meets MGMT vibe. He covered two classic songs recently, and I present them both to you: Here’s Borns taking on “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John!

Borns, also covered “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie!

Finally, a pair of tracks from Blur’s first Madison Square Garden headlining show. Damon Albarn commented that it only took them 25 years to get there, but as you will see, it was worth the wait.

The first track is a Blur rarity, “Country Sad Ballad Man,” which has not been performed live in 20 years!

Last but not least is a song you all know and love – “Song 2!” WHOO HOO!!!!

Please support these bands (and all others on the site) by seeing them in concert and spreading the word!

Please support According2g.com by following me on Instagram  🙂

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