overlooked albums

mirror.co.uk
My bizarre job interview to work for Prince
Alan Edwards flew to Paisley Park after being asked whether he wanted to be Prince's UK PR man. But there was no way to prepare for the interview that followed
By Ashleigh Rainbird

From PR guru Alan Edwards landed his dream job to represent Prince – after the weirdest job interview ever.

The Outside Organisation boss tells the Mirror about his trip to Paisley Park, where he expected to meet the superstar himself.

Alan tells the Mirror: “I got a call from someone in LA who asked if I’d consider being Prince’s UK PR. I said: ‘Of course, yes.’

“I was flown out to Minneapolis – it was winter, pretty bleak – and there’s a driver waiting there. He takes me, and it feels like the middle of nowhere, there’s endless fir trees, then suddenly, out of the snowy landscape, up pops an extraordinary white, space age building – Paisley Park.

“It was like something out of E.T. or Star Wars. This was the 1980s, I’d never seen anything like it.

“I knocked on the door, someone answered and sent me up to a room upstairs where I sat down. But when I say a room, it wasn’t a normal room. It was sort of suspended, and it had a glass floor. It was like being in a see through cage.

“Nobody had said anything to me yet. It wasn’t even as if anyone brought me a cup of tea.

“Then a button was pushed and music starts coming out – and it’s fantastic. It’s Prince’s album Diamonds and Pearls, which hadn’t been released yet. So I’m just sitting there, completely on my own, in this see through room, listening to this album.”

But despite being in an clear, empty room, Alan wondered if he was being watched.

“I had a sensation that I was being observed,” he continues. “You get that feeling. I couldn’t work out what it was, but I thought I better really put some energy into listening to the record.

“I was tapping my feet, moving my head, but I think I stopped short of getting up and playing air guitar.

“I was really getting into it, which wasn’t hard because it was truly a lovely album and I still think one of his greatest and slightly overlooked albums.”

The entire album – all 65 minutes – were played without interruption as Alan sat by himself.

“Nobody had come in, nobody had said anything,” he continues. “Then it finished and someone says: 'Your car’s outside.’ And I leave.”

Returning to the airport, he wondered if his Prince experience had come to an end, but was startled when his stretch limo driver struck up an unusual conversation.

“We’re driving back through the pine trees and snowy landscape and he said: 'Well, what did you think of this song?’ And: 'What did you think of the vocals there?’ He really peppered me with questions – it was like a school exam.

“It dawned on me quickly that this was maybe not casual conversation. The driver was cross questioning me like a music journalist, forensically, about the album.

“It occurred to me very fast that in one way or another, maybe this was being relayed back to someone. For a minute I wondered who was under that cap!

“I was questioned all the way to the airport. It was a lot easier than my O Levels because I had a passion for it, and I’d just heard a great record. I didn’t have to ham it up too much.”

Returning to London, Alan heard nothing from Paisley Park. He began to think he might not have got the job.

But, he says: “Then in the office three days later, and the phone rings and a voice says: 'You’re hired.’ And that was that.”

For the next few years, Alan would represent one of the most iconic performers of our time. Of course, the role came with its quirks.

Alan continues: “My partner at the time, Chris Poole and I were in a very small office in Charlotte Street, and even though we had some great clients the entire operation was in one room.

“Prince was very shy, he was not a very chatty person. And one of his prerequisites was that he insisted that we had a phone installed for his use.

“It was pre-mobiles, so it was a bigger deal to go to Telecom and get a phone installed, and you paid for the line. It just sat there for weeks.

“We were never allowed to use it, and nobody else was given the number. Only Prince had the number. Whenever he wanted to call, he knew he could get straight through, and wouldn’t have to talk to anybody else.”

Press events were equally as unusual – and Alan’s first face-to-face encounter with the singer wasn’t as direct as his usual interactions with new clients.

“I was given the task to take 10 journalists to Rotterdam, where we were told Prince was going to appear at a club,” he says.

“He was the biggest thing in the universe at that moment. I stood there in this half empty club with journalists including the Mirror’s 3am team for one hour, then two hours, and I had to keep saying: 'He’ll be along in a minute.’

“I had Fleet Street’s finest – the most powerful columnists in the UK – what’s going to happen? It was pre-mobile, so there was no texts from management - we were just stuck there.

“It got to 4/5 o'clock in the morning, then there was a kerfuffle, and Prince comes upstairs with his manager and I was taken over to have a conversation with him about whether or not he’s going to perform, and whether the club is good enough for him, and who this mob is with me at the bar.

“He was a few feet away from me. The manager was on my left, one foot away from me. Prince addressed all the questions to the manager, who then asked them to me. I answered the manager, who then told Prince what I’d said.

“This thing went on for about 10/15 minutes – the whole conversation. The manager was just repeating it: 'Alan says there are 10 journalists here, and they want to review the concert.'”

Alan has nothing but fond memories of the superstar, and heralds his former client as a “genius”.

“Prince was a very gentle, soft spoken, and a nice person to deal with. He’s just shy, he really was shy. It was really extraordinary for someone so flamboyant, such an amazing performer to be so quiet one-on-one. You could hardly hear his voice at times.

“He broke the rules racially, sexually, musically and business wise. This word 'genius’ is overused, but it definitely applied to this man.

“All his approach was a few hundred years ahead. You had the record industry dispute and him painting slave on his face.

“He was a business pioneer, and now all artists expect to own their catalogue and have a control over their careers. To a degree, they need to thank Prince.”

2

Currently on #Vinyl - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “She’s the One” soundtrack.

It’s easy to overlook soundtrack albums as “real” albums in an artist’s library, but this one is an underrated great. Recorded around the time of the amazing “Wildflowers” album and also produced by Rick Rubin it feels like an extension of that work.

youtube

SONGS FOR THE SEASONS / Autumn

Grace Jones - Autumn Leaves (Fame, 1978)

Grace Jones’ early disco albums with Tom Moulton were often panned & overlooked, but all three albums (Portfolio, Fame & Muse) are worth hearing in my book. No, they aren’t quite on the splendid quality of subsequent projects like Slave To The Rhythm or Hurricane, but they have many songs that have remained some of my favorites from early disco, like Muse’s dreamy “I’ll Find My Way To You” and Fame’s “Autumn Leaves”, which is another lush, orchestral cover of a French song in vein of “La Vie En Rose”. While it does repeat some of that song’s formula, it has a different mood, with a less summery feeling, being closer to that of autumn like the title would imply.

Overlooked Albums of 2012…So Far (Part 2)

External image

Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself.

Break It Yourself is the sixth album by the ever reliable Andrew Bird. For the best part of sixteen years he has time after time again released solid material with a touch of class that the modern folk scene has been lacking. 

External image

Justin Townes Earle - Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now.

I’ve been a fan of Justin Townes Earle’s work for a while now. In a relatively short space of time he has released four albums, that each act as a different scene in the often chaotic life of Justin Townes Earle. His latest, Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now, sees the young musician stripped to the core and tackling issues like heartbreak, drug and alcohol addiction and a longing for a proper relationship with his famous father. A truly brilliant album.

External image

Julia Holter - Ekstasis

Multi-layered, Enchanting and often beautiful, Julia Holter’s second album may be a controversial choice on this list but I really feel this album has been overlooked.

External image

Soko - I Thought I Was An Alien.

I wrote about Stéphanie Sokolinski, aka Soko, back in April and I haven’t been able to quit playing this album since. ‘I Thought I Was An Alien’ is an incredibly touching album and at times Sokolinski's writing displays such vulnerability I haven’t seen in a record since Ryan Adams 'Heartbreaker’. Sokolinski’s brutal honesty about failed relationships, being lonely, love that never developed and her pain over failing to make that love blossom is startling for someone so young. Rightfully this album should reach a wide audience and catapult her among the other up and coming young singer-songwriters.

External image

Lower Dens - Nootropics.

Jana Hunter’s Brooklyn shoe-gazers Lower Dens released their second LP ’Nootropic’s’ back in April. Atmospheric and at times epic, it’s just a really brilliant rock album. 'Brains’ was its lead single and it’s one of my favourites of the year.

External image

Team Spirit - F**k The Beach EP.

The side-project of Passion Pit synth maestro Ayad Al-Adhamy and one of my favourite albums to thrash about to is Team Spirits 'F**k The Beach’ EP! It’s just a really enjoyable piece of rock n’ roll.

External image

Peaking Lights - Lucifer.

Married indie dream-pop duo Peaking Lights went about their business and quietly released one of the years sweetest records. Take the tune below for example, Beautiful Son, which is a heartwarming song dedicated to their newborn son.

External image

Weird Dreams - Choreography.

Well now it just wouldn’t be a Silver Soundz list without some Dream Pop from a bright up and coming young English Band.

Pure Bathing Culture - Pure Bathing Culture EP.

I stumbled upon this excellent new band back in June and have been playing this EP a lot since. Pure Bathing Culture is a new Portland, Oregon pop duo that consists of Vetiver guitarist and keyboardist Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille. It’s a brilliant EP full of nicely constructed melodies and indie-pop hooks.

External image

Poliça - Give You The Ghost.

An absolute diamond of an album. Fans include Justin Vernon and Jay-Z himself.