It is almost thirty years since Prince Rogers Nelson released his first album. In that time he has been a superstar; a recluse; an inspiration; an enigma; a slave; and a symbol. But throughout all these changes he has remained a prodigiously talented singer, songwriter, performer and musician. From the highs of "Purple Rain" and "Sign O' The Times" to the bitter quarrels and commercial failures of the 1990s, he has remained a compulsively creative force and a unique voice in rock, pop, soul or whatever music he turns his hand to. In this major critical biography, Brian Morton dissects the man behind the artist and shows emphatically why Prince still matters in the twenty-first century.
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(214mm x 135mm x mm)
Canongate Books Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
Cogent analysis of The Artist Currently Known as Prince.Scottish arts journalist and broadcaster Morton (The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, 2006, etc.) traces the Purple One's musical evolution over the course of a remarkable yet strangely unresonant career. Neither a standard linear biography nor show-biz tell-all, the book is steadfastly focused on the music and the psychological and sociological conditions that informed it. Morton proposes that Prince's music is uniquely biracial, borrowing heavily from both black R&B and soul tropes and white rock and pop styles; two of his largest influences are identified here as Jimi Hendrix and Joni Mitchell. Convincingly, if at times a bit baroquely (his enthusiasm and verbal facility can lead him down some baffling rabbit holes), Morton develops the idea that this is one of a host of dichotomies that lie at the heart of Prince's work and mystique. Others include the tension between sacred and profane themes in his lyrics, his aggressive androgyny and ambiguous ethnicity and the unusual racial dynamic of his hometown, Minneapolis, a city whose overwhelmingly white population has historically enjoyed relative social harmony with its tiny black community. Morton's analysis of each album is impressively nuanced and erudite, scrupulously avoiding sycophantic apologies for weaker entries in the canon, and he makes a convincing case for his subject's status as a profoundly significant musician. And yet, Prince's infamous insularity (if not outright paranoia) also defines his work: For all his success and dazzling musical accomplishments, he's a bit of a closed loop; unlike other artists of his stature, he strangely lacks imitators or disciples. The trails he blazed were personal, inward and, in the main, left fallow by succeeding generations of musicians. This self-contained, self-indulgent quality is simultaneously Prince's most fascinating and frustrating characteristic - not to mention, another dichotomy. It's lonely out there for sui generis eccentric geniuses - luckily, gifted writers like Morton are able to bring them a little closer to us. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Brian Morton
BRIAN MORTON was born in Paisley and grew up in New Orleans-on-Clyde, aka Dunoon, where he acquired a lifelong passion for jazz. He taught at university before spending ten years working on The Times and its supplements; he then became a freelance writer and broadcaster, and has had an illustrious career as an arts and music commentator on BBC Radio Scotland and on BBC Radio 3. His publications include The Penguin Guide To Jazz which he co-authors with Richard Cook.