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After shows, many of y’all ask where we from. Normally, we shake our heads and reply, “New England.” That’s rarely enough, as most of you are either a) from New England, b) have been to the place, or c) have family and friends here. Invariably follows, “Where in New England?” or..”Oh, like Boston?” And then we reply, “Well, we practice in Providence, RI, except when we don’t. And we do a lot of mixing, mastering and performing in Portland, ME, and P.Nice hails from Cambridge originally, but… Oh yeah, Daddy Wrall and I live on Nantucket.”
“Wait, Nantucket? Like Wings? I didn’t know people actually live there…”
“Yeah, it’s a real place. With grocery stores and seasons and schools.”
“Not special schools…Normal schools?”..
“Yeah, do you a have prob…”
Okay, it usually doesn’t get that out of hand. More likely, people say, “Nantucket? Never heard of it…” So I thought I’d give you a little glimpse into what makes this place so ridiculous. And great.
But still ridiculous…
Every April, one of the last Saturdays of the month is reserved for..a special event that serves as the highlight of “Daffodil Weekend,” or as us working-types often refer to it as, “Daffy.” I assume it’s a commercial holiday intended to get folks to Nantucket with loosened purse strings, but it does have merits. Now, this Saturday is reserved for a noontime parade through Main Street: a caravan of antique cars dressed in Daffodil wreaths and yellow ribbons. People keep cars from the sixties, fifties, forties, thirties and twenties all year ‘round, only to polish them, decorate them, and drive them once for this special event.
Normally they are filled beyond capacity with waving kids and sun-burned weekenders. Now, Main Street is not a quiet street by Nantucket standards, but on normal days, no one honks their horn. Very occasionally, a quick beep might sound as a way of saying hello, or at a busy intersection if an accident is barely avoided, but on Main Street, the cars travel at 10 miles an hour and most of the noise comes from mufflers and chatter.
On this fine Saturday, though, the horns are blaring. You can hear them for blocks and they don’t sound like the horns of today. Many of them are much higher pitched or say “ah-oooo-gah!”..and some play old tunes. I think I heard “Polkadots and Moonbeams,” but I couldn’t say for sure.
Now to be clear, a few thousand people line the streets for the passing motorcade. (Fewer than at the Christmas Eve lottery, but that’s another story…) They dress in their best yellow sweaters, and wave and laugh as they celebrate spring. Children hold daffodils in their fists and point and squeal at people hanging off the sides of old Fords and sitting across the back of their Oldsmobile convertibles. It hasn’t changed much since I was my sister’s age (6), excepting perhaps the excessive video-cameraing. One man captured the car’s eye view, while hanging on the outside of his Model whatever, another woman scared the crowd while hanging out of the driver’s side with some camcorder or another.”Oh, it’s a British style, with the driver on the right!”..(That was the..sound of recognition as it snaked through the crowd.)….
After a double loop through Main Street, the cars head down our sole state highway (also known as Milestone Road) to have a picnic on the eastern edge of the island, blankets spread under the enormous trees, all older than the oldest picnicker.
It’s a contrived event, an attempt to recreate the community of old, buy paying homage to our oldest man-made things and our last remaining natural ones, but it works pretty well. I hadn’t been in years and found myself smiling uncontrollably after just a few moments in the crowd. Despite my twenty-first century cynicism, I like things like this, even when they..can’t be..spontaneous. So happy Daffy Weekend folks! Take a minute to stop and smell the daffodils…
My name is Moyne and as I have been doing for the past few days, I will be filling in for the injured Dunlap. Worry not, his hands and ears are unaffected. In fact, physically he is fine (if just a wee tired…) It is his mental faculties that are of concern. (Enough so that I have hope that I might replace him in the band.)
You see, I play the Zut Flute as well, a (once terrible, now) auspicious coincidence, for while I was wasting my talents in a midwestern practice space, Lap was fortunate enough to have found musical partners in Daddy Wrall and Samuel P. Nice, forming one of the best three piece outfits I’ve ever seen.
So, during a recent tour, the band was concerned about Lap and considered it imperative that he “take a break.” I happened to pass the boys on the corner of LeMoyne and Hoyne streets in Chicago, while they were talking about the iniimitable Glen Goins.
(Ed. note: Mr. Hoins speaks in a strange dialect, that though it is written like English, sounds different. The former sentence, written phonetically, would sound like this: “I happoind to pass the boins on the coin of LeMoyne and Hoyne in Chi-toin, while talkoin about Glen Goins.”)
I had seen the band at Gunther Murphy’s and was impressed enough to be intrigued. As the Great Dunlap is my virtual doppelganger, and we have virtually the same skillset, I offered my services. Tagging along to Minnesota and Wisconsin, they realized that nothing was lost (ed: except intelligibility) and decided to keep me on as an alternate band member. Don’t be surprised if you see me at a show.
Speaking of which! Thanks to Cristina, Lipschitz, Lawrence University, Colby and Yi-Lo, Matt and Tapes n Tapes, Solid Gold, Chris, Hexagon Bar, Bad News Jones, Dylan and Brian, Gunther Murphy’s, Gary, Dan and ESPECIALLY all of the new and established fans. You people are theBOMB.
(ed: the next passage has been phonetically reproduced for effect.)
Soin, the next toim you happoin to be at a Fairchion shoin, please talk with Moyne, Samuoin, and Daddy Wroin, take our music hoim, listen on the headphoin and enjoin! Send an e-moin or post a commoin any toim.
Moyne LeHoyne Hoins (of the Hollywood Hoins’)
Those of you who have seen Miss Fairchild recently might have noticed a very slight addition to our stage set-up. On either side of (or sometimes underneath) Samuel P. Nice’s dj table rest two large PA speakers. Why would we be toting around such ridiculousness, you ask? Well, in recent discussions about the traditional hip-hop format that we have adopted (plus flute, keyboards and percussion), we realized that Samuel was missing a thing or two from his setup.
Take a look back at footage of a Public Enemy performance from twenty years ago and you’ll see Chuck D (played here by Daddy Wrall) Flavor Flav (played by yours truly) and Terminator X (hence the new P.Nice moniker: Terminator P.) We figured if X gets to be surrounded by an overpowering source of his own music, why not P.?
Soon this whole setup could be changed forever and instead of comparing us to Public Enemy (not being a hip-hop act, it does seem a little suspect…) I might use the James Brown mold (with Dubs as Mr. Please Please himself, myself as Bobby Byrd with a little Fred Wesley thrown in and P. Nice as, well, everybody else.)
Since “Everybody Else” doesn’t have much of a ring to it, let’s stick with Terminator P. That way he can dream that he’s haaaaaaaaaaard.
or those of you who don’t know, Prince has a new album out: 3121. It was released on March 21st (3/21) and early returns are positive. It is certainly better than Musicology, my be better than Rainbow Children, and may even be his best effort in fifteen years. “Black Sweat” and “Lolita” bring us back all the way to Prince’s Dirty Mind days, (hopefully) reminding or educating a new generation about where producers such as the Neptunes got theirs. Makes you want to look at his career, doesn’t it? Let’s try that…
A few weeks ago, Daddy Wrall and I began to solidify a long-debated list: Prince’s top six albums. Attempting to take into account artistic merit, critical acclaim, chart success, historical importance and most importantly, personal opinion, we went about ordering those albums that we considered his undeniable best. Some will balk at this list. We are too young to remember the debut of many of these works and did not have the knowledge or historical perspective to understand their impact at the time for any of them. When “Dirty Mind” hit the airwaves in the early 80’s, its stripped-down, one man funk must have been shocking next to the slick production of the disco of the day. Though we can understand this, we didn’t live it (at least consciously), so please save your critiques. If Dubs and I know anything, we know funk, and we can rate Prince compared to himself. That’s all we intend to do here.
(You might be asking, “Why top six?” And though, I know top five is more typical, I’m more into six. It fits better.)
6. 1999 Prince’s breakthrough album that catapulted him into the realm of superstardom, established that we was here to stay, 1999 should make the list just on the merits of the anthemic “1999” and “Little Red Corvette”. You know this record, though. What can you say about…
5. Diamonds and Pearls Probably his most underrated album, Diamonds and Pearls actually performed well in record stores. This album showed off an incredibly tight New Power Generation and only has one bad song: “Jughead”. With successful singles such as the title track and “Cream” it’s forever sing-along-able, but it’s “Willing and Able,” “Walk Don’t Walk” and “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” that make this an artistic masterpiece. “Willing and Able” takes Michael Bland playing his best impersonation of the South African grooves popularization on Graceland and layers them with a call and response between Prince and the Steeles. As if that weren’t enough, the song ends with a rap by NPGer Tony M. Now, even if you don’t like the rap (which I do), its comedy is undeniable.
Diamonds and Pearls happened early enough in the nineties that Prince hadn’t yet been affected by the horrible production styles that were about to follow. And unlike his earlier recordings, there is nothing lofi in here. This album is probably too long, and “Jughead” is pretty awful (DW would argue in its defense), but it’s an incredibly entertaining listen, with a undeniable artistic merit. Don’t be scared by “Thunder” when it starts, though.
4. Dirty Mind This album changed the game. It popularized the stripped-down style that has become the basis for soooooooooooooo much of today’s pop music. It showed off the best one man band since Stevie Wonder. It can play beginning to end at a club and never empty the dance floor. Most importantly, though, it single-handedly rendered obsolete the distinction between the pop and r&b charts. If The Beatles caused the splintering of pop music by inventing fifty new genres, then Prince made those distinctions obsolete. Call him the great reuniter, since the king of pop title went to some other, less deserving soul.
3. Purple Rain The quintessential Prince album? Yes. This one took him to the top. And I mean the tippity-top. It has pop goodness (“Let’s Go Crazy”), pop badess (“Darling Nikki”), an acceptably overlong power ballad (“Purple Rain”), weirdness (“Computer Blue”) and a home for our favorite catchphrase (“When Doves Cry”). Did I mention that it’s also a great film that inspired waaaaaaaaay too many remakes (see 8 Mile) and launched the careers of Morris Day and Time and Appolonia?
2. Sign O The Times Most critics see this as not only his best album, but also his last good one. They are wrong. He has done good, and even better work, since. However, the merits of this album cannot be overlooked. An amazing collection of songs that traverse a variety of styles and topics, this record has something for every taste. One can see how it was whittled down from seven records spanning two projects. Prince was at his creative peak at this time, had finally embraced horns (thanks to Eric Leeds’ brilliance), and had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of clever pop gimicks to mix with his superior musicianship and vocal prowess.
What’s the problem, then? Why is this not the best? The simple answer is that he just got better. On Sign of the Times, Prince didn’t have these songs in this order in mind. It’s an amazing collection of songs, but it doesn’t flow with the best albums of all time. Also, he had a great new band to replace the revolution, but he didn’t trust them yet, so he continued to play a lot of the parts himself (perhaps too much). I love the Camille persona, but it does break up the flow a bit to have these competing ideas for a lead singer. I have a difficult time promoting a double album to the top of any list. It seems to break the definition of “album” and therefore deserve an asterisk. The concert video fixes most of these problems: the band plays the whole time, it’s shorter, Prince sings the Camille songs as Prince, and best of all: you get to see the choreography and outfits. Heck, the splits and Eric Leeds in a cloak: who could ask more than that? I could. I’d ask for…
1. Lovesexy Take nine amazing songs, have them played by the best musicians and sung by the best singer, produce them in a consistent way and order them so that they flow together. Now add recurring themes and an overarching idea. What do you get? (Ooh La La, Sha Sha… but that’s another story.)
You get Lovesexy. It’s only problem is that the CD version is all on one track. In the end, though, this actual works to Prince’s advantage. Some songs (that might seem more shallow at first listen) are considered with each listening, due to the inability to skip through, causing an extra appreciation for not just the album as a whole, but also these “weaker” songs. In the end, they aren’t weaker at all. “Positivity” is maybe the best last song in Prince’s discography. The Lovesexy band is his best group of musicians, and the group with the most personality. This album takes all of what was good about Sign O The Times and improves on it. Eric Leeds is quoted as saying that Prince’s vocabulary had been established before this record (meaning it didn’t break new ground.) Even if that’s true, Lovesexy is the best example of his vocabulary, the most complete version of Prince’s musical vision.
Honorable mention goes to Parade, the Rainbow Children and the Black Album. Critics lauded Musicology when it came out a couple of years ago and I think they are crazy. One review called it “his best since Sign O The Times,” which I think is just crazy. I saw Prince on that tour, and he was amazing, but I really thought he was done as far as recording went because of that record. 3121 proved me wrong, and might even make a case for top ten some day, so check it out.
Please excuse shameless plugs for Miss Fairchild’s own music; I really do think it’s that good. Oh, and stay tuned for more top six lists.