on 21 November 1999
"DanceMusicSexRomance" is something different, however. It's, as Per himself describes it, 'a serious study, or something, since it combines a biography-style approach with an in-depth examination of his lyrics and music.' A tremendous amount of research was done for the book, spanning six years and including over 300 hours of interviews with people that were around during this period in Prince's career. One of them, sound engineer Susan Rogers, sat through 15 hours of questions about her studio work with Prince. Per's new book uncovers many previously unknown details about Prince's working habits, and makes you wonder how he and his entourage can keep their sanity intact while working impossible hours. The book contains numerous tales of birthdays and holidays spent performing, rehearsing or recording, sometimes all at once. Prince often demands the impossible from those working with him, and the accounts of the break-ups in both his professional and personal life are often damning. Per also uncovers the truth about many rumours and provides some surprises about Prince's music. The first few pages of Chapter Ten are breathtaking, as Per describes how Prince enters the Sunset Sound recording studios in Los Angeles ten days after finishing the Purple Rain tour, and records the first four songs of "Parade" in one go. The reality behind the decision to shelve the legendary "Black Album" in late 1987, a mere week before it was supposed to hit the stores, is exposed as being far more prosaic than Prince's explanations.
Thankfully, unlike many other traditional biographies, "DanceMusicSexRomance" concentrates on Prince's music and not his personal life, even though that part inevitably interacts with his music...Apparently, a lot of his other songs have a basis in real life, and aren't just the result of a very sharp imagination. It's also this aspect of the book that's most unflattering for Prince...
You don't have to be a Prince fan to enjoy "DanceMusicSexRomance", and as far as music biographies go, this one belongs at the top, alongside books like Michael Azerrad's "Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana". Granted, the book isn't without its faults: it would greatly benefit from an alphabetical index of names, song titles and places, and the photo section is somewhat disappointing. A second volume, dealing with Prince's post-1987 career, is planned, but only if the first book is successful: 'I can't spend another four, five, six years and invest a lot of money, which I've done, if the book only sells a few hundred copies,' says Per. 'Hopefully, it'll do better than that.' It certainly deserves to, and actually, Prince deserves to; it would be a shame if that period of Prince's career were only covered by cut'n'paste jobs such as Liz Jones' "Slave To The Rhythm". Perhaps Alan Leeds, who has worked closely with Prince and won a Grammy Award for his liner notes to the James Brown box set "Star Trax", says it best in his foreword to "DanceMusicSexRomance": 'If every artist as worthwhile as Prince has a historian as fastidious as Per, the future of this genre of musicology is safe and sound.'