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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.'
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on 9 February 2000
I'm only 100 pages into the book, and I have to say that Per Nilsen has written one of the greatest biographies I have ever read. A lot of Prince's/The Artists actions are shown in a different light within this book, and helps to understand the man behind the music.
Personally I would recommend that everyone read this book, even if they aren't Prince fans. I think it should also be a must read for any music critic before reviewing another Prince Album.
Excellent Stuff. How about givng us Prince:The Second Decade?
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on 9 October 1999
After many Prince biographies that merely scratch the surface of such an amazing career, "DMSR" goes to new levels of detail and insight.
This book includes quotes from almost every person who worked with Prince in the late 70s and 80s and chronicles previously unknown record projects and the meaning behind great albums such as "The Black Album".
The forward by Alan Leeds (the writer of the liner notes for "The Hits" album) just about sums up Per Nilsen and includes the quote:
"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. The bookshelvels will be singing."
I found this book to be both fascinating and a great read. Every chapter brought to light many factors that have influenced Prince's music, things that I had never beeen aware of, even though I have followed his career for more than 16 years.
If you're a Prince fan, or just remotely intersted in what shaped his career then go buy this book !
Can't wait for Prince: The Second Decade !!! :-)
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on 8 December 1999
I recently sent an email to the author Per Nilsen part of which reads as follows:
"I am sure you have had a huge and positive response to your book, which as a huge follower of Prince, I thoroughly enjoyed. I recently took the book on holiday with me to India, and it was one of the only things that I found refuge in, with the madness going on around me.... I was sad to finish it by the 10th day of my trip.
Although I read and enjoyed Liz Jones's "Slave to the Rhythm" your book provided answers to the many questions surrounding what inspired Prince to write and compose his songs, and more importantly, it was interesting (and suprising) to read when songs were originally written, and/or modified for future albums. I especially was interested to read how he recorded particular tracks with the use of the particular equipment and how other people worked along side him. I am still amazed at the amount and quality of the work he produced in a relatively short length of time. I am sure there can't be many artists that compare with that (Frank Zappa maybe?)
I was also interested in various information such as "The table and the chair" by the poet Edward Lear. I am also trying to obtain other albums featured by The Time and Madhouse that I was unaware were more or less solely Prince projects".
The book is very well written and is obviously well researched. A must for any Prince Fan.
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