Category Archives: rock and roll

Prince 101: Let’s Work

[I’ve tried to load a live clip from Prince in the early 80s doing “let’s work” and I’m unable to make a digital connection.  You’ll have to search for that tune yourself. I suggest the live eighties versions with Prince in a unitard. ]

“Let’s work” is an understatement from the enigmatic Prince.  His output is stunning.  I probably a dozen good Prince albums.  Prince certainly worked.

You’ve got to work.  You’ve got to work to be funky.  You’ve got to work to be real.  You have to work to be anything.

James Brown: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

But this is the least indulgent song imaginable.  This is emblematic of funk-a-teers going to work. Militarily precise in the application of snare and slap bass.  Dance floor mandatory!  With just enough swing to make sure you know it came from the land of 8 billion lakes or where ever Prince is from.

The real power of Prince is that if you are open and aware then you have to acknowledge his brilliance.

Also suggested is the Wax Poetics Alan Leeds article about tour managing Prince.

 

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Filed under funk & soul, memorial, music, rock and roll

Janelle Monae & 500th post

This is the 500th post on life of refinement.  I’m proud of the non-linear series of artifacts gathered here that point toward new understandings.  I use this web site to archive interesting things.  Meaningful things.  This is a curation of the rambling series of artifacts and patterns of representation I find significant enough to be marked and analyzed in a free open public space.  This is as close to learning as we’ll ever get.

Thanks to all who read the website.

***

 

I knew of Janelle Monae and appreciated her music but only had singles in my library.  Inspired by a Wax Poetics write up, I bought a copy of “The Electric Lady” last night.  With two full listens into the album (barely enough to comprehend what is going on) I’m sold.

This project is wonderful dance music and a really good concept album (or an extension of a concept album to multiple projects — Monae plays an alter ego pretty consistently).   The record is an extended riff on technology, cyborg/human interactions, civil rights and living life with dual identities.  Given that “The Electric Lady” could be a Phillip K. Dick novel, the smooth inviting production and musicianship is what carries the project.

This albums sounds VERY eighties to me.  From the sonic structure and choices of beats/samples to the rock opera lyricism of the concepts.  At points I was reminded of my nostalgic childhood filled with Styx, Heart, Bon Jovi and Run DMC.    The strings sound eighties.  The drums sound eighties.  Even the vocal harmonies remind me of eighties hits.   But the eighties were a point of technological jump off and the slight broadening of pop music.

I like the futuristic world that Monae is painting.  And the willingness to build futuristic pop music out of the sonic blocks of the past.  Astute Monae names tracks after inspiring pioneers: “Sally Ride” (astronaut) and “Dorothy Dandridge Eye’s” (first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award).

In the context of the blog, I’ll quote the end of the “Dance Apocalyptic” when Janelle Monae says: “I really really want to thank you for dancing to the end.”   Thanks for reading and dancing ’til the end.

 

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Filed under art, communication, funk & soul, hip hop, human rights, music, representation, resistance, rock and roll, technology

Alice Cooper: Black juju live

How much fun would it be to see Alice Cooper in the day?  Daaaaaamn.  Stick around for Black Juju.  It gives me some ideas for monday’s class on semiotics.

Thanks to Dangerous Minds for the suggestion.

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Filed under music, rock and roll