Author Archives: Frankenräver

About Frankenräver

Frankenräver is an ol skool Ecstatican from Toronto's glory daze of peace, love & Ecstasy. Her e-book on the 90's rave scene, titled "Tuned In, Mashed Out: Confessions of a Rave Junkie" is currently in the process of being published in paperback. Stay tuned!

Vive Johnny Hallyday, French Icon

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Source: media.jukebox.fr

For the past week, France has been mourning the death of Johnny Hallyday, its biggest and most beloved rock star. I’d never heard of him until 8 days ago, when I saw a piercing set of blue eyes staring at me from the cover of Nice-Matin. Something about the expression of those eyes was intriguing so I picked up the daily to find out more. “Johnny Hallyday est mort,” announced the headlines. I was surprised to discover half the newspaper was wholly devoted to the deceased. Obviously this Johnny Hallyday was a big deal! With my rudimentary French, I deciphered some tributes splashed generously over the first few pages. Numerous artistes and French nationals professed their undying love for Johnny, with one person claiming she felt like she had lost her father. It rapidly became clear that Mr. Hallyday was an extremely important personality and revered music legend. So why didn’t I know anything about him? Furthermore, I was puzzled by the outpouring of affection and genuine sense of loss expressed by the public and music establishment.

From what I could gather, Johnny was the ultimate rock star and wild man. Those eyes told a thousand tales of a life fully lived. That well-coiffed head of strawberry blonde hair defied his 74 years. “I’ve seen everything and done it all,” was the message I read in his bold expression. Later, I overhead some French discussing someone who had died of cancer and Oh la la! – what a loss. “Are you talking about Johnny Hallyday?”  Yes they were. I asked a Frenchman in his 60’s why Johnny was so important. “I don’t know how to explain,” he replied, measuring his words carefully. “He’s a symbol of France, he was strong and when he performed, the people went crazy. I know Johnny all my life, I grow up with him and…it’s not so easy to explain,” he concluded, visibly touched. “He was like Michael Jackson to us.”

Jean-Philippe Léo Smet aka Johnny Hallyday was born on June 15th 1943 in Paris. He died on December 5th 2017 of lung cancer. His career lasted an astonishing 57 years, with 79 albums and 80 million albums sold worldwide. He had legions of loyal fans, yet he remained virtually unrecognized outside the French speaking world. How was it possible that I knew about Vanessa Paradis but not Johnny Hallyday?

After watching this performance of “Let’s Twist Again” in 1963, I had an epiphany. His obscurity in the English speaking mainstream music industry had less to do with French language. And more to do with the possible threat this handsome, charismatic European performer posed to outshining his hallowed American counterpart, Elvis Presley.

Excellent voice with nuanced English pronunciation. Professional hip swiveling. Fabulous in fitted suits? Two kings were not allowed in America’s rock n roll kingdom. It didn’t matter. Johnny Hallyday was king of rock in France and proud to sing in French! He gave France a larger than life persona, capable of living up to rock n roll’s colourful criteria in every category. This was a man who partied with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger, while avoiding the pitfall of premature death that afflicted so many of his peers. Mr. Hallyday had a powerful voice and towering presence that touched 4 generations. Very few singers have accomplished that.

You don’t have to understand French to see the unifying message Johnny was promoting in this performance of “Qu’est-ce que tu croyais?”(What Did You Think?) at the Eiffel Tower in 2000.

 

I got goosebumps listening to his soaring vocals on “Vivre Pour Le Meilleur” (Live For The Best). Here is an artiste that sings with conviction!

 

 

Over the weekend, I gleaned more insight about what Johnny Hallyday means to millenials. Nass, a 27 year old Frenchman and his best friend Romain spoke earnestly about what the beloved star means to them:

“Johnny Hallyday is like a legend for us. A real legend. Everyone knows him since my parents (generation) and maybe more. And this guy died. I didn’t think it was possible, honestly. That guy was one of the best French singers. I don’t even know how to describe it…I didn’t really like his songs but honestly I gotta say, this guy was unifying all the French people during the concerts; you can feel an emotion, something that you never felt before.”

Romain: “Johnny for us is like a monument.”

Voilà! Johnny Hallyday is like a monument, who will forever live on in millions of  L’Hexagone hearts. It’s a French thing. The rest of the world does not have to understand.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Betcha didn’t know I can sing! Parang II

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Once upon a time, I was part of a musical experiment known as Nebula Starway in the U.K. In 2010 along with my partner Emil Z. I co-produced this house-inspired cover of parang classic, “Rio Manzanares” originally recorded by Trinidadian group, Paramininos.  This is by no means a pristine production. Nebula Starway had very little money so we recorded this track in a bedroom studio with a homemade soundbooth and software including Sony ACID and Traktor. In hindsight, I would reduce the lengthy intro and add more background vocs, among other things. The meatiest part of the song comes at 4:26 with a jubilant percussion jam arranged primarily by Frankie Diamond. Pandeiro, shekere, cowbell, handclaps, whistles…I cut loose and had a blast!!!! It was my idea to cover “Rio Manzanares” as a tribute to parang and also to experiment combining it with house music. It’s not a perfect endeavour but Nebula Starway learned a lot. Plus it’s fun to sing in Spanish!

Here we have a Venezuelan duo playing bandola, a close relative of the cuatro which is a four-stringed guitar utilized in parang. This video demonstrates the Latin-American roots of this folkloric artform that is now popular in Trinidad and Tobago. The close proximity of Venezuela to these twin Caribbean islands birthed a cultural crossover, despite the fact that TnT is an English speaking nation. Moral of the story is great music transcends language barriers. And of course, Trinbagonians took it and ran with it all the way to…

THE CURRYSHOP!

Indian singing sensation Sharlene Boodram mashed up the airwaves with salacious hit, “Mamacita” (1991). A classic example of chutney parang, this song blends South Asian themes with soca-infused parang. Santa gets a Curry Christmas, courtesy of Mamacita who gets caught cooking paratha (Indian flatbread) for her celebrity midnight guest. Say wha!!! This tune boils over with culinary references to spicy South Asian staples like roti and dhal, all set against cheeky humour. Which leaves one with the impression that there’s something hotter than curry cooking between Santa and Mamacita! Delicious, delightful and daring, “Mamacita” is an appetizing number that still sizzles 26 years after release.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Parang: A Christmas Tradition

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A charismatic form of Christmas folk music from Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago, Parang was invented some centuries ago. The word parang is a derivative of the Spanish word “parranda” which refers to merrymaking. Parang are songs in Spanish, usually about Mary (Maria) and the Natividad (birth of Jesus), though there are various types covering different contexts. Instruments consist mainly of violin, cuatro, maracas, mandolin, bandolin, clave, box bass and flute. In more recent times, the electric bass and steelpan have been sometimes incorporated. Parang is traditionally performed by parranderos, a group of musicians who go from house to house, singing and playing in exchange for food and drink. Some pastel, sweetbread, ponche a crème or a shot of rum is greatly appreciated. Laughter and conversation with the occupants of the home ensue before the parranderos move onto the next home and repeat the process. So you can imagine how these musicians must feel after 4 hours of serenading. Pretty merry and belly full to buss!

Parang is a beautiful tradition, rooted in the spirit of altruism and kinship. Parranderos are often very poor, yet refuse to accept money for their serenades. Parang comes from the heart, for love of music, having a good time and religious deference for the spiritual tradition of Christmas. Fortunately, this folk music has grown in popularity, especially in the latter portion of the 20th century, fuelled by the advent of independent record labels plus performances broadcast by the now defunct TTT; Trinidad and Tobago Television. Spicy subgenres that have sprung up include soca parang and chutney parang, often about humorous topics in typical Trinidadian vernacular.

Due to the increasing crime rate in Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve heard that parranderos have drastically decreased their serenading. In the rural villages of Lopinot, Paramin and Arima, parang serenading is still practiced in the relative safety of tightknit communities. For parang lovers at large, there are local Parang festivals, competitions and concerts that are well-attended by the general public. Even expats living abroad in North America can enjoy the occasional concert by touring parranderos during the holiday season.

Parang has a complex history, fusing elements of West African and Latin American musicality to create an enduring artform  that has widespread, multigenerational appeal. Frankenrӓver presents a small selection of recorded classics for your enjoyment. Take time off from your hectic holiday schedule to appreciate parang while remembering to enjoy the simple pleasures  – good times, love, laughter, – embodied by this dynamic artform.

Beloved classic “Alegría Alegría” by Trinidad’s Queen of Parang, Daisy Voisin holds a place of affection in many people’s hearts. One of the most recognizable voices in parang, Daisy Voisin was known for her sweet intonation, inspired whoops “Aiee aiee!”and her bouquet, which she held in one hand as she sang, danced and twirled her extravagant skirts. A staunch traditionalist who focused on the religious aspect of parang, Daisy Voisin performed parang entirely in Spanish backed by her band, La Divina Pastora Serenaders. I was fortunate to have seen her in concert and was touched by her humility, passion and devotion to her craft, though her financial difficulties were evident. Daisy Voisin has one of the most moving voices I have ever heard and is a stellar example of a beautiful human being. She paved the way for other musicians to have successful careers recording parang in subsequent generations and deserves far more recognition for her cultural and social contributions.

Recorded by calypsonian Crazy (Edwin Ayoung) and released in 1980, “Muchacha” was an instant hit, gaining heavy rotation on local airwaves. This upbeat number fuses soca with salsa, parang, and some pop elements via synths. The result is a bright, sparkly song filled with the trademark humour Crazy is known for. “Muchacha” is a prime example of contemporary parang featuring English lyrics. Crazy holds the distinction for pioneering new forms of soca, including soca parang and Trini-style reggae. He was a very energetic performer whose distinctively long, voluminous hair  and colourful stage presence mesmerized audiences back in the day and he’s still active now in his 70’s.

“Latin Parang” by Colleen Grant is a most unusual composition. It’s what I’d call disco parang. The looped, salsa-style arrangement of congas, claps, synths and vocals against a mid-tempo backdrop make Latin Parang a very progressive song, coming as it did on the tail-end of the disco era (1980). Essentially, it is dance music with an ambitious arrangement, performed by an obscure singer from Trinidad. Colleen Grant’s quirky Spanish pronunciation of ¡Que me gusta cantar! in the chorus is delightfully haunting, ensuring this hidden musical gem continues to fascinate rare groove aficionados decades on.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Frankenrӓver Turns 6!

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Source: birthdaywishes.net

My Dear Ecstaticans,

After 6 years, I can’t believe y’all still be reading my blog! In this age of mass distraction, it is no small feat to still have an audience. To be honest, I have thought about annexing the blog. It is now more than 20 years since the rave era began in Toronto. And that’s a sobering reality. I am an adult with real-world responsibilities, yet I still remain a raver at heart!

Evidently my blog needs to evolve in a different direction. Less focus on parties and more attention on quality music that gets lost in the mad shuffle of commercialization. There are so many under-appreciated artists and classic songs that more people should be aware of. To that end, stay tuned for more savoury treats from the bubbling cauldron that is my brain 😉

Speaking of savoury, enjoy this Boiler Room set by Chicago house legend, Roy Davis Jr. Peace out x

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Roni Size / Reprazent New Forms Turns 20

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20 years ago on this day, June 23rd 1997, seminal album New Forms was released by U.K. drum and bass producer Roni Size and Reprazent, a collective of artistes including Onallee, DJ Krust, Suv, Die and Dynamite MC. The successful mashup of spaced out jazz with hip-hop infused drum and bass earned Size/Reprazent the Mercury Prize in 1997 and heavy hitter status during the 90’s rave era.

I happened upon this album sometime in 1998. “Brown Paper Bag” happened to be playing on a T.V. where I worked and I was hooked. To top it off, the video was shot in Toronto! An extended intro featuring a double bass doing a seductive number with a flirty guitar, like a conversation leading back to bass place…that conversation par excellence helped that song become a bonafide hit. At first I got the single C.D. but later acquired the double disc. And that, in and of itself, was a revelation.

From the head-bopping infectious rhyming of Dynamite MC on “Railing” to the digital staccato burst of “Morse Code”  this mind-blowing album took me on a joyride through superlatively rich soundscapes. “Share The Fall” featuring Onallee’s éclair whipped vocals became a classic DnB anthem. American MC Bahamadia’s hypnotic heist on “Feeling So High” left heads speechless. Clearly, this maverick collaboration was a critical and commercial success. Roni Size graced the cover of several music magazines, somewhat overshadowing the Reprazent crew. Heck, I even saw Size spin at a rave in Toronto (he’d shorn the locks, I was disappointed! His set satisfied me though :).

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Roni Size / Reprazent

It’s fair to say that if you have not heard Disc 2 of New Forms, you are truly missing out. If you listen carefully, it becomes evident that water plays a predominant part in the production. Which is hardly surprising when you consider that Roni Size is Scorpio, a water sign. Moody and playfully mellow, “Down” is anything but. I felt like a leaf, meandering down a burbling brook on an overcast day as the water swirled around me. Skillful breakbeats layered with jazzy instrumentals, strategic looping and clever phasing give this double album an atmospheric feel that is unparalleled. It is full of textures, ranging from mysteriously edgy to effervescent. I love playing it on a rainy day as it amplifies that warm cozy feeling that makes me glad to be indoors with a hot cuppa tea, getting a proper rinsing!

20 years later, I still listen to New Forms. It sounds every bit as fresh as it did back then. Sure, I have bigger concerns than getting a fresh pair of cargos for the next rave but you know what? It just makes me all the more thankful that I had this amazing experience. Oh, and “Hot Stuff” is going off in the background, which brings to mind supers and laying down in bed, admiring my silver tone bubble chair and my Liquid Adrenaline poster which I will never forgive my mother for accidentally throwing out.

I could go on and on about the cool sound effects on each track like the windchimes on “Ballet Dance” but I suggest you discover this brilliant gem of an album yourself. Or revisit it from a mature perspective. There is much to love and appreciate about New Forms as we evolve over time.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

82 Year Old DJ Sumirock’s Solid

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Let’s face it: at 82, society thinks you’re washed up. Why, you’d be considered lucky if you could knit a scarf and walk to the corner store without falling down. You are old and for the most part invisible, a useless relic of a vibrantly youthful past. Or so they would have us believe.

ENTER DJ SUMIROCK

This senior, seriously funky Japanese citizen is making jaws drop around the world. At an age where most people want the music turned down, she’s turning it up! Sumiko Iwamuro started spinning in her 70’s after her husband passed away and now has a monthly club residency in Tokyo’s infamous red light district. On top of that, she still works as a full-time cook at a Chinese resto which she has been doing for 60 years. I bet she makes a mean teriyaki!

According to CGTN, Iwamuro said, “My setlist is based on music that I feel like dancing to. I’m physically very strong. I stand all day in the kitchen, ride my bicycle home, walk my dog for half an hour so I don’t have a lot of free time. I can deejay at this age because I’m very healthy and I’m very lucky to have a place to work.”

Does this sound like an “old person?” Definitely not! An elderly lady with a taste for techno and dark glasses – most defo!

Kudos to DJ Sumirock for showing us that as long as you have health, you’re never too old to pursue your dream. In a world intent on discarding the elderly and invalidating women especially as we approach middle age, Sumiko Iwamuro defies the narrow minded stupidity of youth obsessed society. As I observe her on the decks, I admire her relaxed approach, calm focus and pure enjoyment, not to mention her sexy outfit!

DJ Sumirock, I hope you get to play in New York someday. You are a brave soul, a true inspiration and I know you will do a fantastic job. Domo arigato!

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

All Gender Bathrooms At Raves

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Gender neutral bathrooms are a hot topic. In recent times they have been popping up in public and private facilities and their popularity is increasing. Laws were recently passed in America allowing school children and people to use the washroom that corresponds to their gender as opposed to their sex. These tentative steps toward gender parity are now in danger of being overturned by a regressive administration intent on fostering division and discord instead of peace and unity.

In the midst of all this chaos, it’s refreshing to know that in the 90’s rave era, washrooms (women’s in particular) became gender neutral during peak periods. For argument’s sake, let’s call this spontaneous occurrence AGBAR – this blogpost title in acronym form. When there are thousands of people rushing all at once and they need to pee (sometimes ALL at once), it truly doesn’t matter which friggin bathroom you decide to use. It was not unusual to see guys and trannies traipsing into the girl’s washroom and vice versa. Men actually preferred ours because they said it was cleaner. “Girls are so lucky! You don’t know what we have to put up with!”, a male raver once CONfessed as he washed his hands next to yours truly. Let me emphasize that at no time did I ever feel unsafe when men and transgendered folks needed to use the ladies’ washroom at a rave. Security was well aware of the situation but I never saw them intervene. AGBAR was in full effect, and although there may have been unpleasant incidents, neither myself nor anyone I knew ever heard of or witnessed them. Ecstasy is reputed to have a neutralizing effect on baser instincts that lead to violence. With everyone feeling all loved up and rushy-rushy, I’m sure the number 1 concern for ravers of all genders using the toilet was to make sure their pants or skirt was really down so as not to piss or crap all over it. Lord knows I’ve had a couple of close calls – can you say ECSTAPEE OH YEAHHHH!!!!

World renowned dance club Fabric London had gender neutral toilets that were conspicuously monitored by security personnel. Hilarious conversations would transpire around the circular sink fountain as guys and girls washed their hands together in peace, all gung ho for AGBAR and the great spirit of togetherness fostered by that overwhelming need to relieve that plagues all genders, all sexes, all nations! And we behaved like civilized beings.

For a dance culture movement that has been much maligned by politicians and mainstream media, it’s funny that ravers helped pioneer a successful social experiment in gender inclusivity, well ahead of the curve. Outside of that peace loving party atmosphere, the reality of rape culture society sets in, making the scenario outlined in the previous paragraph unthinkable in everyday circumstance. Despite the fact that ravers in the 90’s were often perceived as dirty, drug addled degenerates, I was never sexually assaulted at a rave. Not even when I wandered for hours in a sea of Ecstaticans after being separated from my friends. People were so kind, respectful, and they looked out for you. Hopefully one day, stone cold sober society will catch up to where we were. And remember to wash up on the way out.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Love My Luscious Overalls!

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Lusciously altered and ready to go

When it comes to 90’s rave fashion, Luscious was a brand spoken of with reverence by many, even to this day. As dance culture flourished, small homegrown industries sprung up to cater to the specialized needs of flamboyantly fabulous ravers. Local fashion labels such as Snug and Modrobes (who remembers that fantastic store the latter had on Queen Street West?!) were known for their uber cool, totally out there gear designed from lightweight, durable fabrics. Luscious in particular earned a special place in many ravers’ hearts for their ultra-comfy, functional overalls specifically designed with the raver in mind.

Imagine my delight when I recently stumbled upon this vintage treasure in Kensington Market. I was especially happy to have it at a mere fraction of what I would have paid for it back in the day! These black Luscious overalls with white stitch detail are made from a 98% cotton and 2% lycra blend. The cotton imparts breathability, especially when you’re dancing for hours in a hot, sweaty room, while the lycra provides just the right amount of stretch. A huge bonus when you’re bending and squatting all night long. I would even go so far to say that this is the next best thing to wear besides naked at a rave! Side zipper closure makes these overalls easy to get in and out of and they fit nice and snug without being tight. Cleverly slanted hidden pockets, 1 on the lower leg and another on the upper back are pretty groovy. So nice to have extra places to hide and possibly forget your gum. Or papers. Not to mention, stash your glowsticks!

Such considerate extras are features that are sadly missing from today’s overalls. In case you haven’t noticed, overalls have made a huge comeback in the fashion world. This came as no surprise to me, since I’d been rocking Silver coveralls (another Canadian brand) since 2012, intuitively sensing the return of sensible wear. Often, I find women’s slim fit overalls are less about functionality and more about objectifying the female form to the point of vulgarity. Which makes Luscious all the more loveable and dear.

Alas! The pair I picked up needed to be shortened. Folding the cuffs didn’t work either because of the wide flared leg, plus I wanted to keep the double stitched finish. So I took it to Sylvia Wilkins, a wonderful lady who supervises a sewing group in my hood. Right away, she declared that previous alterations had been done on the hem. Turns out that these overalls were made for an extremely long-legged, slim built Amazon, which meant that in their original condition, they were actually too long for the previous owner. I can’t begin to tell you how good that made me feel.

Sylvia began by pinning the hem to my desired length. With a sewing gauge, she carefully measured and cut 2 inches off. This expert seamstress confessed she likes to start seams on the inside of pants and hates sewing in black. All the more reason to appreciate her assistance!

Next, Sylvia added the first row of stitches. They were a bit loose, so she adjusted the tension on the sewing machine, which helped tremendously. So the next row came out just right, which meant I had to remove the loose job with a seam ripper. At least she was nice enough to start it for me. Fun!

As she hemmed the garment, Sylvia used a cool tool called an awl to tame the fabric as it objected to being altered. As do many humans too. She explained the flared bottom has more material which made it bouncy. Sylvia got that rebelliousness under control right quick.

Lickety split, I got the perfect fit! Thanks to my kind and generous mentor Sylvia Wilkins, who taught me sewing basics for a year.

“What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?” I asked, hoping to glean some nuggets of wisdom from this seasoned veteran.

“I have no idea…” she replied.Not the response I was looking for but it felt good to know that in future decades, I can look forward to being every bit as clueless about life as I am now.

“Attitude, love, patience,” was her final answer. I can honestly say those attributes served me well on the dance floor and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Copyright © 2017 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Frankenräver at 5

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5 years of Frankenräver! Sure, I haven’t written much at all lately. Life gets in the way – what can I say? While the world reels in the aftermath of a Muppet Show U.S. election, this blog is about to get a wake-up call of sorts.

When I first begat Frankenräver, I had much more time on my hands to play with my pet project. Then I got caught up in the Matrix, duking it out with various Mr. Smiths who kept morphing into the most annoying people and situations. Fortunately, the light is at the end of the proverbial tunnel! I thank God for my life and all the wonderful people and energies that have accompanied me on my zany journey.

A major celebration is ahead. At 5, I am reborn, refreshed and rearing to grow!

Stay tuned,

Frankenräver

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Prince: The Dove Has Flown

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Prince has passed away. The aftershock of this seismic occurrence will be felt for some time to come within the music industry and amongst his legions of fans, not to mention his close associates. I, for one, am still coming to terms with the blow of his sudden demise. “Life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last,” as he once famously sang in the hit classic “1999.” Just a week before he died, I had christened my new stereo by playing Purple Rain. And now he was gone. Surreal.

I am deeply saddened by his death, because he seemed so young with so much life life left to live. It has taken me almost a month to finish this article. Weeks of playing his music, basking in the warmth of his phenomenal talent, processing all his fantastic accomplishments. Now I can accept that he is gone and think about what his legacy means to me.

Let’s face it; Prince’s catalogue is mindboggling. With 39 studio albums, a plethora of bootlegs and hundreds, maybe thousands of unreleased tracks chilling in the vault, the biggest question remains what does this mean for his music? That remains to be seen. Prince was notoriously protective of his work, but his fans are having a field-day judging from the glut of videos on YouTube lately. As a matter of fact, I received a notice from his lawyers to remove footage I`d shot of his Welcome 2 Canada concert in 2011 or have my YouTube account deleted. I complied, wondering how some 2 minute low res clips could possibly pose a threat to Prince. But nonetheless, it was oddly gratifying to receive a warning letter from Team P. I simply wanted to share the experience with those who could not make it. And evidently, there were plenty of people who wanted to see His Royal Badness, seeing how my videos racked up a total of over 7,000 views for 1 glorious week.

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Prince mural on a sidewalk in Toronto, Canada.

Prince was the soundtrack to my adolescence. The first time I remember seeing him was on a Billboard countdown on T.V. He was in the top 5, inching closer to number 1 with “When Doves Cry.” I saw this strange looking dude dressed in purple and a frilly shirt with a morose expression on his face. I didn’t know what to make of him. I couldn’t tell whether he was black or white. I decided not to like him. And then I saw Purple Rain, the movie. I was blown away by this temperamental, stylishly talented musician and the mercurial drama surrounding him. The wardrobe was hip and astonishingly extravagant with lots of lace, big hair and big boobs heaving out of corsets. I liked how he fought with The Revolution, especially with the rather masculine Wendy, and the fact that he mentioned masturbating (!) in Darling Nikki. And how he humped the stage so hard that Apollonia got upset and ran out of the theatre. In a kid’s mind, this was pretty cool stuff.

Shortly thereafter I went to the local record store to buy the tape. It was run by this super cool guy who sort of resembled Prince. Carlos had a permed coif accented with blonde highlights. I had a huge crush on him. So much that I would go into the store and rummage through records, stealing glances at his big dreamy bedroom eyes and moist succulent lips. But of course, I was too young to really know much about sex, except that it was grown up stuff and judging from what went down in Purple Rain…pretty damn confusing too. There was also a pretty girl who worked with Carlos, rocking a similar Afro-punk style. I felt like they were part of some secret society that knew all about the Purple Rain life except me. The tape he sold me was a bootleg. No cover art but I didn’t care. I played the heck out of that cassette, feeling like I had discovered a soulmate, a rebel, someone who understood how I felt. As an added bonus, Carlos included part of The Time’s LP on the recording. I loved how Purple Rain would segue into “Jungle Love” straight after the violins. That tape is now lost in the annals of time. The way it shaped my brain development though, will last a lifetime.

Fast forward to 1985, Long Island, New York. I am spending the night with this rather rambunctious girl named T and her mom. T is a huge Prince fan. She has the Purple Rain album. We play the record and sing along. I admire the album art, especially the flowers strewn amidst the liner notes. T gives her mom plenty of lip, virtually non-stop sass. I am amazed at just how much American kids can get away with when it comes to talking back to their parents. I feel sorry for her mother, who can’t get T to listen or cooperate. The yelling continues. T sprints away, only to run straight into a wall, breaking her hand in the process. Which means T’s track and field meet for tomorrow has just gone up in flames. Her agonizing screams are nerve shattering. T’s mother scolds her soundly, saying that if she had listened, this would not have happened. They go off to the hospital, leaving me alone in the apartment. I get to enjoy the Purple Rain LP in solitude. Nice!

That summer, I acquired “Around The World In A Day.” This time, it is a bonafide recording with cover art. I dig the colourful swirls and funky fonts but above all, I feel the music. It takes me to different worlds that I have never encountered, but Prince and The Revolution make them come alive in my head. I am especially enamoured with “Tambourine.” The tape does not fall apart, no matter how many times I rewind and repeat that song. Little did I know that several years later, my little sister would sneak into my room, bang that tape and subsequently fall in love with it. She confessed to having a similar obsession with Tambourine, a seemingly innocuous song about a musical instrument. Or so I thought back then…

around the world in a day tape

Rock of ages. Just won`t quit!

1992: I am the 108th caller on a radio contest, thereby winning a pair of tickets to see Prince in addition to The Love Symbol tape. Hardly believing my luck, I phoned my boyfriend and broke the news. “I’m not coming to watch you take your panties off and throw it onstage,” he declared. Seriously dude? Get your mind outta the gutter! “Chances are my panties will land on someone else’s head before it ever gets anywhere near Prince,” I reasoned. Surely he could see the sense in that? Nope. So I invited my aunt instead. She was ecstatic and we went to Maple Leaf Gardens. It was the first time I saw Prince in concert. The atmosphere was raw and electric. He performed sexy MF (he swore!) and Mayte Garcia was stunning. It was one of my happiest moments ever. Needless to say, my panties stayed on. The boyfriend became pop history shortly thereafter.

Circa 1997, my co-worker introduces me to his friend Ed. He thought we would get along because we both love Prince. He’s right. Ed is a Prince fanatic. In fact, we hit it off so well that we become raving buddies. Just imagine Prince brought 2 ravers together! I think Ed was relieved that he could wild out about Alexander Nevermind and I wouldn’t think him odd. Ed had bootlegs, videos, stuff that I’d never heard of or even known about it. Obviously he had the time and energy to keep up with Prince, who could easily drown you in a river of records. I was glad that someone else could take care of the legwork while I got to enjoy the benefits. That’s what friends are for!

Over the years, Prince has brought joy into my life with his music and unique presence. I was fortunate to have seen him perform a number of times. There is no question he is the most talented musician I have ever seen. It is hardly likely that there will be many more of his calibre in our era due to a shifting soundscape. With the advent of technology, there is less appreciation and effort made to produce recordings with live instruments. The beauty of Prince was his ability to marry tech (synths, drum machines) with a solid musical foundation of funk, pop, rock and soul. He owned his sound and his style. He drew attention to injustice within the industry during his infamous battle with Warner Bros. Back then, I didn’t understand what he was so upset about but I sure as hell do now.

Thank you, Prince, for teaching me so much about myself. Your passing gave me pause for consideration. It made me take an honest look at life. I felt sad, not just because you are gone, but because I never took the time to consider your pain as a human being. You were larger than life but you weren’t exempt from suffering; just better at transcending it than most. A true inspiration and shining example for humans to be their exceptional best. I Wish U Heaven.

Copyright © 2016 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.