By Matt Thorne
Faber & Faber – £12.99

Mick Jagger should fold up his penis and go home.
                                                                  Robert Christagau, The Village Voice

I’m a huge, huge Prince fan, but I have to say, this Updated Edition of Prince by Matt Thorne does rather read like a shopping list. It essentially consists of a chronological treatise of facts, figures and the countless songs recorded by the Minneapolis maverick – although very little else.

There’s no real insight into the actual artist himself, which, I don’t know about you, is what I’d fundamentally like to read about; especially when it comes to such an enigmatic and profoundly influential dean of musicology as he.

Such is all the more substantiated and put succinctly in the book’s third chapter (Wouldn’t You Love To Love Me?’) where former manager, Owen Husney, simply states: ”There was no one else around like him.”

Indeed there wasn’t, which is why reading something like the following makes for just a little too much linearity and dare I say it, dull and laboured reading: ”While working on the Vanity 6 album, Prince had also been preparing The Time’s second album, released a fortnight later. While the first album cover showed the whole band, Morris Day stands alone on What Time Is It?, […]. The record has more character than its predecessor, and although it is similarly structured, with three long dance tracks and three shorter songs, the lyrics are sharper and less generic, the concept now clearly in focus. It would be the hits from the third Time album that would fix the band in the public consciousness. But this is just as good. Prince’s association with the band was now well-established, as they’d supported him on his Controversy tour, but once again he kept his involvement hidden with only the co-production credit for ‘The Starr Company’ – the anonymous Jamie Starr’s new enterprise, also responsible for the Vanity 6 record – hinting at Prince’s involvement” – chapter six, ‘Gigolos Get Lonely Too (Part 1).’

To quote The Daily Telegraph’s Mick Brown, Thorne may well ”bring an exhaustive knowledge and attention to detail to the task,” but Prince as a whole is far too formulaic, far too scientific, to be remotely enjoyable.

David Marx


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