Prince: The Last Great Rock & Roll Megastar


Prince performing liverpool live review getintothis.jpg
Getintothis celebrates Planet Earth’s sole remaining rock & roll megastar.

Last week in these very web pages, Liverpool musician Harry Brooks said there are no great rock & roll stars anymore. He was very much mistaken.
Anyone that knows me, will say this extended slice of waffling that I’m unleashing into cyberspace is both bias and inevitable. And they’re correct. But I’d argue my standpoint is utterly justifiable.
As a self-proclaimed uber-fan of his Royal Badness since the age of seven (ironic, symbolic, who knows?), the big little man can do no wrong, and thus with this week’s ‘release’ of his 46th record – 24th studio LP – via the ghastly-selected medium of the Daily Mail, I was by no means surprised by his latest form of industry trend-buckling.
By choosing to sanction Planet Earth (below left) as a give-away cover mount with last Sunday’s edition, he was merely continuing a steady upward curve of unorthodox release methods which has progressed quietly and confidently since his infamous wrangle with Warner Bros in the early 90s.
For Prince (if you want a history lesson go here) is ultimately a punk – in the true definition of the word. He always has been a revolutionary; dictating creativity on his terms and breaking musical and cultural barriers with every turn. Dictating his terms when signing to Warners aged in his late teens and assuming full artistic control, he’s played the game by his rules alone to this very day.
Making quasi-dimensional movies and videos, encrypting language (he’s responsible for text speak), re-inventing secret ‘guerilla gigs’ and spawning a legion of copyists and solo careers Prince has forged an industry while the other two thirds of the megastar holy trinity – Madonna and Jacko -respectively lost the plot musically and mentally.
Life under Prince’s Cherry Moon began to get truly interesting when he formed his New Power Generation Music Club website just as his Warner’s deal was fizzling out in the 90s.
A purple online palace of sound dedicated to true, super fans, Prince was able to release new material on an astoundingly regular basis, shaking off industry shackles, allowing dedicated supporters (via a small annual fee) an insight into his remarkably prolific treasure chest of Paisley Park delights.
Dozens of records were spawned, many of which were ignored by the mass media, who wouldn’t get to hear in full until they were imported into the country, made available illegally online or given official release dates, for Prince was only concerned with addressing his fanbase.
Thus, the media at large – and indeed the record industry was disgusted: who was this 5’2″ prodigy to neglect their influence after so many years service, and pander to the faceless pond scum buyers sat behind their computer screens.
How the ‘P’ fans did laugh. Sure there was some duds in this 15-year period of Prince’s online music-making experiment, but for every 45-minute swamp-jazz noodle there were classics which would later surface on records such as Rainbow Children, Musicology and 3121 – and that’s not to mention the many, many other diamonds lost but to the few dedicated hardcore.
Aside from the music there’s been a handful of hit-n-run tours – ‘catch me if you can,’ he declares – and while you’re at it, you can join me onstage for a dance if you’re part of the online fanclub. Or what about performing at an award show – the Grammy’s, the Brits or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – all of which he’s stole the show in recent years.
Not to mention a half-time Superbowl display this year which has been hailed as the greatest ever.
And so in 2007, when Prince, despite a lucrative deal with Sony BMG reportedly on the table, decided to toss out another record for free – thus resulting in his UK release date with Sony ripped up (they subsequently backtracked stating they were proud to represent such a forward-thinking legend) – it was just the latest in a long line of ‘direct marketing’ strategies, in the history of a true musical maestro who refuses to play ball.
Sure being a Prince fan is bloody hard work, but as a follower of any true rock & roll legend, it’s unpredictable, rewarding and most of all utterly thrilling.