Rolling Stones

Playlist: Remembering Prince

April 21, 2016, the world lost one of music’s iconic and talented musicians, Prince. He was truly a legend who left a huge impression on music with his style, songs, and vision. He was a versatile artist who constantly pushed boundaries and challenged perceived notions of music. Since he was bigger than life, even though he only stood 5’3, you don’t picture him working with a lot of other artists or even performing covers. His music is so good, why should he play other people’s songs? But, surprisingly, Prince extended himself to various musicians and created memorable, yet underrated duets. At the same time, he also put his funky, sexy spin on songs you’d never guess he’d play. So let’s remember the late Prince by looking back at some of his most notable duets and covers.

“Love Song” – Madonna + Prince

When listening to Madonna’s landmark album Like a Prayer it’s easy to gloss over this smoldering track. The sexy ballad features the two music icons being seductive with one another. It’s a smooth, sexy track meant to put you in the loving mood. So how did the two end up working together? “We were friends and talked about working together, so I went to Minneapolis to write some stuff with him, but the only thing I really dug was ‘Love Song’ […]” With its funky groove and steamy lyrics, it’s more of a Prince song. It sounds like something that belongs on one of his albums and doesn’t mesh well with the pure pop of the rest of the album. You would think a song featuring two of the biggest acts of the 80s would get more attention. But the track couldn’t really compete with massive singles “Like a Prayer” and “Dear Jessie.”

“Creep” – Radiohead

You don’t expect someone like Prince to do too many covers, especially considering how many hits he has in his catalog. But during his headlining set at 2008 Coachella, he pulled out a number of them. He played The Beatles’ “Come Together,” Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” The B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” But the most talked about moment was his blazing cover of Radiohead’s “Creep.” Though the elements of the original are there, he turns the track into something completely his own. When he pulls out the extended solos and falsetto vocals, it doesn’t even sound like the same song. It’s amazing to listen to especially since he never played any of the band’s songs before. But of course, Prince wasn’t happy when footage of the cover went live online. He ordered the video to be taken down, which Radiohead reverted since it’s their own song.

“Waiting Room” – No Doubt + Prince

This is another unexpected Prince collaboration. Found on No Doubt’s Rock Steady, it’s got a bit of groove, it’s kind of soulful with a dash of synth and pop. Thanks to Prince’s work on the track, it sounds nothing like the band’s previous or later material. Apparently, Prince agreed to work on the track as a favor to the band since Gwen Stefani appeared on his track “So Far, So Pleased.” They sent him the track and he completely rewrote it. His influence can be heard all over the song. If it wasn’t for Stefani’s lead vocals, you would swear it’s a Prince song. It’s one of the weirder, yet satisfying options from No Doubt’s 2001 album.

“Best of You” – Foo Fighters

Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl Half-Time performance was the first time I realized just how versatile and insanely talented he was. We know how hard Prince rock’s his own material, but not too many other songs. That changed when he busted out renditions of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watch Tower,” and Foo Fighter‘s “Best of You.” You wouldn’t expect to hear falsetto shrills in a Foo Fighters song, but Prince truly made that track along with the others he featured all his own. He infused them with his attitude, flair, and a healthy dose of soul like no one else ever could. Though some people didn’t think he was worthy of handling the show, his performance is still hailed as one of the best in Superbowl history. Watching it now, it still gives you chills, especially when he busts out “Purple Rain” during an epic downpour.

“A Love Bizzare” – Shelia E + Prince

Prince was so unique and had a style unlike any other that his essence pours out of every song he writes. This duet with his protégé Shelia E, features the Purple One on background vocals and on bass. But even though Shelia E is the focus of the song, it’s undeniably a Prince song. With its upbeat funky groove, irresistible hook, and sultry lyrics it could’ve come from any of his albums. Though his contribution is kind of downplayed on the studio version, the live version has his flamboyance all over it. Like so many of his tracks, this one is fun, energetic, and sexy. Then again, what Prince song isn’t sexy?

“Every Day is a Winding Road” Sheryl Crow + Prince

Any artist collaborating with Prince should know once he makes an appearance, he steals the show. That’s what happened during this live collaboration with Sheryl Crow. The two performed a hard-edge version of her hit “Every Day is a Winding Road.” Prince does backup vocals and shreds away on his iconic guitar. Shortly after this performance, Prince recorded his own version of the track for this 1999 album Rav Un2 The Joy Fantastic. If you’re lucky enough to find this version, you’ll find a completely different song. It’s funky, slinky, and downright sexy, which you don’t expect from a Crow song. It’s soulful and makes you want to dance. The cover is so good, Crow should hand it over to Prince to be rightfully his. On the same album, the two collaborate on the track “Baby Knows,” which has this cool rock, funk swing to it. If you want to hear it, you better pick up the record; they’re impossible to find online.

“Why Should I Love You?” – Kate Bush + Prince

Kate Bush is an iconic figure in alt rock. Her music is often dreamy, otherworldly, and elegant. So it’s a bit unexpected to learn she worked with Prince. The song, which appeared on her comeback album The Red Shoes, starts out with an air of whimsy and airy and quickly turns into a Prince jam. Seems to be the usual pattern with Prince collaborations. Apparently, Bush sent him the track back in 1991 so he could add background vocals. He not only added vocals but a lot of instrumentation. Since it sounded so different, Bush wasn’t sure what to do with it. They worked on it for two years trying to make it fit Bush’s sound. Clearly, it didn’t work.

“A Case of You” – Joni Mitchell

Prince is known for his sexy, funky style, but on this Joni Mitchell, we get to hear a different side. While it still has an air of sensuality, the track is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an intimate moment with Prince and a piano that’s unforgettable. Hearing his soaring falsetto vocals and the classy tinkling piano keys leave you in awe. We all know Prince was such an amazing guitar player, it’s often easy to forget what a versatile musician he was. This cover shows the beauty and elegance he could add to songs, whether they were his or not. This version is a stark difference from Mitchell’s original folk stylings.

“Love is a Losing Game” – Amy Winehouse + Prince

This haunting and somber track from Amy Winehouse’s final album Back to Black, received the Prince treatment several times live. Footage of this is difficult to find, but luckily, the two eventually teamed up for a powerful rendition of the song. Winehouse joined Prince onstage in 2007 during his final show at London’s O2 Arena. He leaves her to take care of the vocals while he tears it up on guitar. In case you forgot what a badass he is on guitar, you’re quickly reminded on this track. It’s an unforgettable collaboration, though you can’t help but feel a little sad since both musicians passed on unexpectedly.

“Honky Tonk Woman” – Rolling Stones

Prince started performing this song live in 1993, but his version was never officially released. Previously, it could only be found on the Japanese version of The Undertaker. The cover received a wider release when Warner Bros. shared rehearsal footage of Prince performing the track shortly after his death. He turns the song into a scorching number with meaty guitars and a bad ass solo. If you needed more proof of what a genius Prince was at playing guitar, just watch this video where he shreds away with an “I make this look good” look on his face.

“Give Em What they Love” – Janelle Monae + Prince

Prince doesn’t easily hand out compliments and didn’t hide it when he didn’t like someone. But he did admire Janelle Monae, who looked up to him. Luckily, the two worked together for this track from Monae’s second album, The Electric Lady. Not only does Prince play guitar, he also provides co-lead vocals on the track. The song is already is already hot with Monae’s passionate vocals and seductive demeanor. But having Prince sing his signature falsetto makes the track even sexier. Plus, it’s funny to hear Prince utter the term “chicken head.” It’s funky, has a healthy dose of attitude, and makes you feel sexy as hell.

“One of Us” – Joan Osbourne

Prince covered Osbourne’s sole hit for his 1996 album, Emancipation and played it live in concert. With this track, he takes you to church. His soulful delivery, cries for the crowd to join him, and his passionate singing makes it feel like you’re in the middle of a sermon. You want to close your eyes, sway your arm in the air, and shout “preach!” as he’s singing. While there’s nothing wrong with the original, Prince’s version is superior especially with the fiery guitar solo that gives it an extra edge. He even uses the track to take a dig at his former label, Warner Bros. by changing the line “Just a slob like one of us” to “Just a slave like one of us.” This shows if Prince had a problem with you, he’d let you know it in the sassiest way.

“Shhh” – Tevin Campbell

There’s no question about it; Prince was a sexy mother. Just about everything he did dripped with sex. He does the impossible on this Tevin Campbell cover; inject a song that’s about getting in on and make it 100 times dirtier. No, he doesn’t change any lyrics or anything like that. It’s all in his over the top delivery. Hearing his falsetto cries of pleasure you’d swear he was having sex while recording the song. If that wasn’t enough to get you hot and bothered, the blazing guitar solo will do the trick. He takes a typical 90s slow jam and turns it into a sex romp. Only Prince could somehow make a sexy song even sexier.

“Crimson and Clover” – Tommy James and the Shondells 

If you thought Joan Jett made this song rock, you haven’t heard Prince’s version. For the most part, it’s a straightforward cover with Prince being playfully coy during the breakdown of “I think I love you” and blowing kisses into the mic. It’s not until the solo where he makes this song sizzle. In case you needed a reminder what an awesome guitar player he was, Prince make sure you remember with this performance. He makes the guitar burn and blaze like he’s Jimi Hendrix. It leaves you stunned the way he makes the guitar whine, scream, and trill. The cover appeared on his album LOtUSFLOW3R, but it’s his performance of the track on Ellen that gets a nod here.

Which ones of these Prince covers/duets is your favorite? Which ones did I miss? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Everyday is Halloween Anthology – Ministry

Release Year: 2010

Rating: 6/10

Every band has a slow period between recording albums and touring. This makes it prime time for random compilation records to keep sales up. Greatest hits, remix, and sometimes rarities albums are what artists turn to hoping fans will eat it up. That must have been the case with this Ministry release. The band wasn’t satisfied with a straightforward compilation with only their singles or only remixes. They decided to do a hybrid release mixing hits with remixes and covers. Now the question is was it worth it?

This album isn’t sure what it wants to be. Is it a retrospective? A cover album? A remix record? The first half is nothing but classic Ministry songs re-recorded and remastered. Why? I don’t know. The songs, “NWO,” “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” and “Stigmata” all sound similar to their original counterparts. Sure, that may be the point, but it makes them unnecessary. It’s not like the band change the tracks drastically. Usually, it’s more distorted vocals that are hard to make out and louder gritty guitars. The remix of “Everyday is Halloween” is pretty good, but since it has more of a heavy metal vibe, it sounds like a Rob Zombie song.

You would think the saving grace would be the covers. Well, they’re not horrible. The band plays it straight with most of the songs, like “Paint it Black” and “Sharp Dressed Man.” They keep the same format and vibe of the track and add in lots of guitars. The same goes for “Thunderstruck” and “Stranglehold.” Whereas the latter track has an industrial groove, the former is pretty true to the original. The only problem is Al Jourgensen’s vocals don’t exactly work with the song. While these covers aren’t terrible, they’re pretty bland and forgettable.

The “Iron Man” cover is actually the best cover on the album. They take the unmistakable riff from the classic Black Sabbath track and integrate it with their fast paced, synth electro madness. Instead of keeping the dark and gloomy mood, they turn it into something chaotic, wild, and destructive. They really make the song their own without shitting all over the original. It’s something both Sabbath and Ministry fans will appreciate.

One of the strangest, yet more entertaining covers is Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.” As you would expect, it’s the complete opposite of the original. It’s insanity incarnate with Jourgensen screaming “They try to make go to rehab/and I said/No!/No!/No!” It’s kind of an ironic cover since he had his own drug problems over the years. With the hard driving music, brutal nature, and aggressive vocals, the cover is certainly unique. It’s not necessarily good, but it’s so ridiculous and intense it’s hard not to like it.

Even though it’s an interesting idea, the album is unsatisfying. The remastered songs are pointless and most of the covers are bland. It seems like they needed to release something, did some covers, but needed more material to pad out the LP. It would’ve been better off if it was released as a short covers EP. The album is one of those forgettable albums that gets old after the first few tracks. After listening to this, I’m convinced cover albums are never a good idea.

Playlist: This is the End of the World

Even though Donald Trump is running for president, we made it another year without the world imploding. It wasn’t that long ago when people didn’t think we’d make it to 2016. Whether it was nuclear war, Y2K, the Mayaen calendar, or Judgement Day, people felt the world was going to come to an end sometime soon. Still, it remains a topic of interest, especially for musicians. Several of artists envision what the end of the world will actually look like and it’s usually pretty scary. Here are a handful of songs about the apocalypse to remind you that not everyone thought we’d make it this far.

“Apocalypse Please” – Muse

Muse are no strangers when dealing with the end of the world. Many of their songs and videos reference it, but this track from Absolution does it best. The music comes marching in and sounds like it’s crashing down on you. Everything sounds like damnation before anything has started. As always, Matt Bellamy sounds sweet as he sings such fateful lines like “And this is the end/the end/this is the end/of the world.” As the music swells and Bellamy keeps pounding on the keys, the vibe gets steadily dramatic counting down to the moment where everything disappears. If there was a soundtrack for the apocalypse, this would be the first track.

“London Calling” – The Clash

Perhaps their most popular song, The Clash maps out the nuclear apocalypse on this single where they reference hiding in cupboards, the ice age, an enclosing sun, and “nuclear error.” The title itself is a reference to the BBC World Services identification during World World II. According to Joe Strummer the song came about from the events of Three Mile Island, which left him concerned about the state of the future. The track is also about the disintegration of the band. During this time they struggled with high debt, no management, and inner band disagreements. This is where the line about “phony Beatlemaina” comes in; they felt the punk rock bubble would burst at the end of the 70s. Unfortunately, they were right.

“Last Day on Earth” – Marilyn Manson

Like most of Manson’s songs, this one probably isn’t as cut and dry as we think, but it does have a lot of references to the apocalypse. In the track Manson finally finds his love, yet realizes it’s too late since the world is about to end. Featured on the excellent Mechanical Animals, the song is one of his most somber, depressing, and sentimental. Listening to the slow, echoing guitar riff and the swelling music gives you this sense of hopelessness. It also makes you think how would you spend the last day on earth with your lover. Though it is one of his best songs in his catalog, it does leave you shaken and isolated.

“The Final Countdown” – Europe

Whether you love it or hate it this song is one of the most ridiculous and overblown of the 80s. And it’s so much fucking fun to listen to. That iconic synth riff you sing out loud, shouting “it’s the final countdown!,” and the simple hook all make for an unforgettable song. Even though it has a party vibe, it’s actually about leaving behind an Earth that’s spent and finding life on another planet. Frontman Joey Tempest described the song as being both optimistic and apocalyptic. It’s exciting to be starting life on a new planet, but also sad to leave Earth behind, especially if loved ones were still there. This is one song that won’t ever die and has now found new life in a hilarious Gieco commercial. Thanks for that, Europe.

“Babylon’s Burning” – W.A.S.P.

Frontman Blackie Lawless was heavily inspired by the four horsemen of the apocalypse and the book of revelations for the band’s fourteenth album. This imagery pops up all over this song with references to clopping hooves, the number of the beast, and pale riders making the vision of the end clear in your head. Lawless said he was inspired to write the song and the album during the 2008 financial meltdown. He says this song is “an overview of what we allow ourselves to become and the consequences that befall us for the poor choices we make.” Also note that Lawless is a born-again Christian, which have a lot to do with this song’s themes. Why is it that most shock rock artists get religious as they get older? Alice Cooper, anyone?

“It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” – R.E.M.

This is probably the first song you thought of for this apocalyptic playlist. Sung in a rapid style where everything starts blending together, Michael Stipe claims everything is going pretty well even though he knows the world is ending. He offers a speedy rant on everything from Leonard Bernstein to overflow of the population. Inspiration for the song came from various sources, including Stipe’s dreams and what he saw while channel flipping. Despite it’s bleak title, the song is upbeat, energetic, and really catchy, which is why people love it so much. Even if you don’t like R.E.M. you at least know this song and probably even like trying to sing all the lyrics, even though it can be challenging.

“Fuck Armageddon…This is Hell” – Bad Religion

This punk band takes a different approach when it comes to the apocalypse. The lyrics reference the devout scorning others for being bad and hoping they can plead with God once the end finally comes. The band retort they don’t need to wait for Armageddon because the world they currently live in is hell alone. Violence, pollution, and hypocrisy are some of the reasons that make life so shitty according to Bad Religion. They end the song by proclaiming “Life is such a curse!” Bad Religion seem like they’ll be able to just shrug off the end of everything.

“Electric Funeral” – Black Sabbath

Apocalyptic themes can be found all over the band’s second album, but they come out strongest on this track. Ozzy sings about the destruction of homes, cities, and people all brought on by nuclear warefare. The images get pretty gruesome, especially during the bridge when the Prince of Darkness sings “Buildings crashing down to a cracking ground/Rivers turn to wood, ice melting to flood/Earth lies in death bed, clouds cry water dead/Tearing life away, here’s the burning pay.” If that wasn’t enough doom for you, the wavering wah-wah guitar riff itself sounds like it’s bringing on damnation. It may be bleak as hell, but it’s still one of Sabbath’s best songs.

“The Four Horsemen” – Metallica

If you couldn’t tell by now heavy metal and the apocalypse go together like spikes and leather. This track, originally written by former member Dave Mustaine, is all about the damnation, death, and misery that the four horsemen of apocalypse bring. Not only does it talk about the oncoming end of the world, it also deals a lot with the passage of time and how “you have been dying since the day you were born.” The origin of the song has an interesting history. Mustaine brought up the song to Hetfield under the original title “Mechanix.” Once he was fired, Metallica released the track under its current name. Mustaine also released the song under the original name and with different lyrics, but the music is very similar. Screw Guns N Roses. Anyone think Mustaine and Metallica should have a reunion?

“Countdown to Extinction” – Megadeth

Though this one doesn’t have strong apocalyptic themes, it still deals with the world coming to an end and it’s all our fault. The song was inspired by Mustaine’s concerns about the planet and environment. The title itself was ripped from a Time article speaking about the same issue. In the song, humans are referred to as an endangered species that is not only killing the planet, but also killing itself. The only thing left is to countdown how little time we have. What’s eerie about the song is it can still be applied today even more so than when it was written in 1992.

“2 Minutes to Midnight” – Iron Maiden

Is it a surprise Iron Maiden has a song dealing with impending doom? This popular Maiden track is more about the beginnings of nuclear war rather than Armageddon, but it’s still closely related. The title itself is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to countdown global catastrophe. The lyrics actually talk about how war is often romanticized. Even though we find it repulsive and awful, a part of us are fascinated by it as well. Since its release in 1984, it has become a fan favorite and a staple at their live shows. Maybe it’s because Bruce Dickinson makes the most awful topics sound kick ass with his soaring vocals.

“Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones

This Rolling Stones classic is pretty bleak and grim. Written during the time of the Vietnam War, the song is about the chaos, violence, and destruction war brings about. Though it does have overarching themes related to war, Jagger himself says it’s an end of the world situation and looking at the lyrics shows you why.  Trying find shelter away from the murders and rape is closely tied to trying to find protection during the end. During the time of these events many people did feel like the world was coming to an end, so it makes sense. This song is a haunting reminder of the violence and destruction that divided the nation not long ago.

“The Sky is Fallin'” – Queens of the Stone Age

While there are some interpretations of the song out there that suggest the song is about something deeper and personal to frontman Josh Homme, you can’t deny the references to doomsday in the lyrics. The opening verse alone sounds like it’s about the sun crashing into the Earth and realizing how much of your life has been wasted: “The sky is falling, human race that we run/It left me crawling, staring straight at the sun/Only a moment I notice, every dog has his day/I paid attention, cost me so much to today.” Also, the phrase “the sky is falling” usually has apocalyptic notions attached to it. It’s a hypnotizing track full of swirling guitars and Homme’s sweet cooing vocals. That man can make any disaster sound good.

There are a ton of apocalyptic songs I didn’t include, so which ones are your favorite? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments!