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Prince by Matt Thorne
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Prince (edition 2012)

by Matt Thorne

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Member:dazzyj
Title:Prince
Authors:Matt Thorne
Info:Faber and Faber (2012), Paperback, 576 pages
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Prince by Matt Thorne

arts (1) bio (1) biography (1) music (1) prince (1)
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Matt Thorne's Prince bio is a very personal account. Which is inevitable in a music book: what one person sees as a masterpiece, another dismisses as trite. And for a while the book does manage to find a balance between facts and opinion, even though the tale he tells is vastly uneven, often going deep into flimsy material while almost skipping over Prince's career highlights.

It's understandable that he rushes through the 1980s, since that period is covered in numerous other books (most importantly Per Nilsen's unsurpassed "Dance Music Sex Romance -- Prince: The First Decade"). But after completing the book I felt that he had an ulterior motive: propping up Prince's vastly inferior output from the second half of the 1990s and onwards. It doesn't help that numerous pages deal with an in-depth account of every concert and aftershow of Prince's "21 Nights" run in London.

Thorne has interviewed many of the "usual suspects", the dozen or so former band members and other associates who have told their side of the story plenty of times in the past two decades or so. It is disappointing that after all this time so many of the other friends/employees still remain unwilling to open up.

The only real surprising eye witness is Hans-Martin Buff, an engineer who worked with Prince during the 1990s. He provides insight into a period that so far has remained somewhat under-reported, but Thorne is too eager to extrapolate Buff's testimony to the whole of Prince's career, when it should be clear that Prince's working habits have shifted somewhat.

There are some jarring theories in the book. Thorne seems eager to dismiss the tracklists of unreleased projects as merely snapshots, when his is already clear to any Prince-fan who cares to use his head: if there are half a dozen known tracklists for a single project, it stands to reason that perhaps we should not regard these as set in stone.

The book also wildly hops throughout time, and fails to tell a linear and consistent story. One moment you're reading about a late-1990s Prince album, and the next Thorne is discussing Carmen Electra's album from years earlier. I can understand the urge to group side projects into separate chapters, but in the end it just doesn't work.

In the end, Thorne is too much of a fan. It is telling that he dismisses Kevin Smith's legendary tale of his weeklong documentary filming at Paisley Park, while this account is absolutely consistent with numerous other stories about Prince (which also remain unmentioned in the book). It is far from a must-read, and the best thing that can happen to it is if someone enters Buff's information into the Princevault website and this book is mentioned in a footnote as the source. ( )
  Bert.Cielen | Oct 16, 2013 |
From his cover bio it seems that Mr Thorne is a novelist, not a musician or music journalist. That may explain the curious approach he takes to his subject, which is to focus not on Prince's ground breaking and peerless music, but rather on his, err lyrics. Which unsurprisingly turn out to be largely about one subject only.

If you are looking for stimulating discussion of Prince's uniquely virtuosic guitar playing or the revolutionary arrangements you will find on his classic albums, you will look in vain. If you want to find out how many tiresome variations one man can come up with in singing about the theme of sex, this is the book for you. ( )
  dazzyj | Jan 12, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0571273491, Paperback)

Legendarily reticent, perverse and misleading, Prince is one of the few remaining 80s superstars who still, perhaps, remains unexplained. Now a firm fixture in the pop canon, where such classics as "Purple Rain", "Sign o' the Times" and "Parade" regularly feature in Best Ever Album polls, Prince is still, as he ever was, an enigma. His live performances are legendary (21 Nights at the O2 in 2007) and while recent releases have been modestly successful at best, his influence on urban music, and R'n'B in particular, has never been more evident. The Minneapolis Sound can now be heard everywhere. Matt Thorne's "Prince", through years of research and interviews with ex-Revolution members such as Wendy and Lisa, is an account of a pop maverick whose experiments with rock, funk, techno and jazz revolutionized pop. With reference to every song, released and unreleased, over 35 years of recording, Prince will stand for years to come as the go-to book on the Great Man.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:04 -0400)

Legendarily reticent, perverse and misleading, Prince is one of the few remaining 80s superstars who still, perhaps, remains unexplained. Now a firm fixture in the pop canon, where such classics as "Purple Rain", "Sign o' the Times" and "Parade" regularly feature in Best Ever Album polls, Prince is still, as he ever was, an enigma. His live performances are legendary (21 Nights at the O2 in 2007) and while recent releases have been modestly successful at best, his influence on urban music, and R'n'B in particular, has never been more evident. The Minneapolis Sound can now be heard everywhere. Matt Thorne's "Prince", through years of research and interviews with ex-Revolution members such as Wendy and Lisa, is an account of a pop maverick whose experiments with rock, funk, techno and jazz revolutionized pop. With reference to every song, released and unreleased, over 35 years of recording, Prince will stand for years to come as the go-to book on the Great Man.… (more)

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