Date/Venue Prom Center,
St Paul 6/7/1985
Birthday Concert Prom
Center, St. Paul 7th June 1985
1. A Love Bizarre 2. Mutiny 3. Drum Solo 4. Sometimes It Snows In April 5.
Irresistible Bitch (including Cloreen Bacon Skin) 6. Possessed 7. The Bird 8.
Drawers Burnin' 9. Holly Rock
(rates this release 4.5/5.0) Review Courtesy of Mike Antonich
@ Blog: Now It's
A few weeks ago, I reviewed the astounding new soundboard
recording of Prince's 26th birthday show at First Avenue. The following year,
Prince And The Revolution again celebrated his birthday with a Masquerade Ball
at the St. Paul Prom Center, once again focusing on rare and brand new material.
Unfortunately, there is not a soundboard recording circulating, but 4DaFunk has
cleaned up the audience recording of this funk fest on their second release of
this show, "27 v.2".
This release is sourced from a low generation tape recording. The first couple
minutes are pretty muffled as the recorder was hidden under a coat according to
the notes on this release. Remember, this was 1985, when recording a show took a
lot more creativity and required the need to be a lot more covert. You can
clearly hear when the person recording the show finds his "sweet spot" and sets
up to tape the rest of the show, by the improved sound quality about two minutes
in. 4DaFunk, as always, have done their jobs to clean up the audio as best as
possible for the best recording of this show circulating at this point. Prince's
vocals are very clear throughout, the bass can get a little heavy at times but
it does not drown out the music. Just be advised, this is a 1985 audience
recording and, no matter how cleaned up it is, it is not going to be close to a
soundboard source. I'd give it a solid 'B' for sound quality, a huge improvement
over any previously circulated version.
As far as the show itself, Prince And The Revolution open with the first public
performance of "A Love Bizarre", which would see release over two months later
on Sheila E's "Romance 1600" album. Sheila was a guest onstage for a good
portion of this show as well. Prince seems to forget the lyrics as he repeats
the first verse instead of singing the second, but its pretty obvious this is a
new song to the band. Another new song follows as Prince And The Revolution are
joined by St. Paul Peterson, Susannah Melvoin and Jerome Benton from The Family
for an over 14 minute version of their song "Mutiny". St. Paul sings lead on
this performance. The Family's one and only album would not see release until
September of that year, so this was another new song to those in attendance.
After a two minute Sheila E. drum solo, the band slows things down for the
public premiere of "Sometimes It Snows In April". This song would not see
release for almost another year, on the "Parade" album in late March, 1986. It's
obvious the song is a work in progress at this point as Prince sings the first
two lines of the song, then it becomes an instrumental performance save the
chorus which the band has worked out, full lyrics and all. It's a fascinating
look at a song in its skeletal form. Prince tells the crowd 'y'all wanna get a
drink or something, it's cool', probably aware of the funk explosion they were
about to lay on them the rest of the evening.
The first familiar song of the night starts a 30 minute non-stop funk marathon
as they kick into "Irresistible Bitch". I simply love the way The Revolution
re-worked this song live, usually leading into the unreleased "Possessed" as it
does on this night. Eric Leeds and Eddie M. on saxophone add to the massive
groove emanating from the stage on this performance. Given his incredible Sign
o' The Times and original NPG bands, I think I have underestimated The
Revolution over the years and listening to these shows is a great reminder of
just how bad-ass this band was.
"Possessed" then runs into a brief workout on The Time's "The Bird" featuring
Jerome Benton helping with the chants. This leads into the seemingly improvised
"Drawers Burnin'", a hilarious song with Prince singing in his 'Morris Day
voice' and Benton again backing him up on the chant. This song has also been
referred to as "Burn It" in the past, but that seems to be more from crappy
recordings of this show making it hard to tell what they were saying. Prince
starts by singing 'Asshole tried to take my picture, kicked him in the neck!
Sued me for a million dollars I said what the heck!' as Benton chants 'Drawers
Burning' in between each line. Musically the song is little more than a popping
bassline and drums, but it is still funky as hell. 'Good drawers hard to find,
bad ones follow you home', too funny. Prince asking a woman in the audience 'Do
your drawers burn honey? Sing!" kills me as well. I highly doubt this song was
ever considered to be recorded, it all seems pretty much made up on the spot.
The night closes with a 13 minute version of another Prince written track given
to Sheila E., "Holly Rock". Sheila rocks the timbales on this performance, again
a debut as this song would not be released until September on the "Krush Groove"
soundtrack. In all, six of the eight songs played on this night were unreleased
at the time and two have still never seen the light of day.
It's a shame Prince pretty much cut out these birthday shows after the following
year's concert in Detroit, which was far less interesting than the '84 and '85
Minneapolis shows as far as material played. They were loose, fun and drowning
in new, rare material, a fan's dream. Although a soundboard recording would be
wonderful to see surface some day, at least fans finally have a decent , highly
listenable, totally enjoyable quality recording from this 1985 classic.