Purple Snow – Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound

Tracks like Mind & Matter’s I’m Under Your Spell, or  is the sound of high living or people pretending they are living high, aspirants’ music. That is probably why this Fall/Bunnymen/Smiths fan hated it at the time; I couldn’t see past the shoulder pads to examine what made it tick.

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It’s funny... life... in the latest batch of promo CDs was this one, and it was the one I reached for first. I was genuinely up for giving this a spin. Despite the fact that 30 years ago, I wouldn’t be seen dead listening to music like this. Why? Tectonic social shifts?  An unwitting acceptance that these things don’t really matter? Who cares. It’s akin to finding a liking for tomatoes in later life, or shedding off some dislike or phobia once you realise the rawness of dislike has dissipated.  In such a manner moves the eternal mystery of music. As I said, 30 years ago I wouldn’t be seen dead listening to music like this; and as for the most famous son of this Minneapolis scene - Prince - from the odd single I couldn’t stand him.  It was probably the fact he seemed to have a predilection for looking like Prince Rupert of Bavaria or maybe the fact all the really fucking irritating people at college loved him.  Ah, but this review isn’t about Prince; he’s here in spirit, but we can safely ignore him as the music on this retrospective is classic enough for you to forget all about everything "he" entails, if only for a while.

There are of course a lot of records like this appearing at present – chronicling lost musical movements that have been left to quietly fertilise the undergrowth, this reissue culture crystallising, or giving new meaning to half-remembered snippets that sometimes float to the surface in your memory bank. And yes you could dismiss the whole trend as the heritage industry in full swing, but then, it’s difficult not to get sucked in when the music is as unrelentingly glorious and affirmative as this. With their track Higher, Lewis Connection (what a name, Lewis Connection, think on…) take a pinch of Parliament and iron of some of the more obtuse bits of that squiggly sound Clinton’s mob created, relying on a more robust, straightforward, and laid-back method to reel you in. Tracks like Mind & Matter’s I’m Under Your Spell, are the sound of high living, or people pretending they are living high, aspirants’ music. That is probably why this Fall/Bunnymen/Smiths fan hated it at the time; I couldn’t see past the shoulder pads to examine what made it tick.

It’s an eclectic, tough sound too, in that it drags in Moroder & Hall & Oates as well as Clinton & Al Green. And you can certainly hear with Su Ann Carwell’s Should I Or Should I Not?, the template that S.A.W. used to hone their success. In any case, regardless of provenance and old battles, it’s also hard not to fall for the smokier numbers such as Haze’s Waiting For The Moment, and Orville Shannon’s beautiful Oh Lover, despite it’s the sort of thing that could (given a devilish mind) be ripe for parody if it wasn’t 30 years too late. But never mind; take on board that Bowie-esque refrain, beaming in straight from Win, which lights this track up like the fleet in Spital Head. And how GOOD is Flyte Time’s It’s The Things That You Do? A brilliantly smoky carousal, that draws on New York and Philadelphia in equal measure.

I’ve got my mits on a promo CD which gives but  a snippet of the 2 hours of killer, shiny, glossy, classy  funk music which you can listen to in full here; there are 4 LPs if you chose vinyl and a doubtless lavish and extensively researched book to go with it. I think it’s ace.