Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Family return as "FDeluxe"

Sometimes people tend to romanticize things that disappear and never return. ..
                "The Family" might be one such case.

     Formed/organized by Prince in 1985 after the break up of the Time, the band revolved around the vocals "St. Paul" Peterson and Prince's then-girlfriend Susannah Melvoin ( twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin). Sax player Eric Leeds and former Time members Jellybean Johnson and Jerome Benton rounded out the group.

By 1985 Prince was the biggest pop star in the world. Warner Brothers had given him own label, Paisley Park. He would create projects for Sheila E., Apollonia, Jill Jones, and anyone in his circle really. 

"The Family" was released to little fanfare in the Fall of 1985. In some ways, Prince's star was already starting to wane. His "Around the World in a day' was viewed as weird and too experimental by many after the huge success of "Purple Rain". In 1986 he would have success with the overrated "Kiss" single, but the rest of the "Parade" album was spotty. Later that summer the horrible vanity project that was "Under the Cherry Moon" was released. (I confess I paid to see it in the theater, ugh).
 Pretenders like "Ready for the World" (remember "Oh Sheila"?) had started to appear and former Time members Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis would have success as producers with the "Minneapolis sound" on records by Janet Jackson and Human League among others.

The first single from the Family is typical Prince sex/innuendo music ,"The Screams of Passion". 

                              "the Screams of Passion"


Not much of a hook to me and it stalled on the charts.
 I remember briefly dating a girl who liked to go to dance clubs (it was never gonna work between us. lol) who told me she liked this song. She's the only person I know whoever even knew it!

There is some talent in the instrumentals and I did like "River Run Dry", written by Revolution drummer Bobby Z

                                     "River Run Dry"

(I always thought Bobby's version sounded like something off of Bryan Ferry's "Bete Noire" album)

The song I thought was the strongest was the ballad "Nothing Compares to U". This was 4 or 5 years before Sinead O'Connor would have a hit with it. Musically it reminded me of cool Prince b-sides like "God", "Another Lonely Christmas", etc.

                                       "Nothing Compares to U"

I knew of no one who was into this original version.  I was a party of one....
I was going through a romantic breakup at the time so the lyrics hit home for me. When you have something real with one person no amount of shallow relationships can replace that true intimacy you had with that person . The song captures the blues of that feeling well....
 It was never released as a single and the group had broken  up by the summer of '86. 

Warner Brothers never bothered to release it on cd in the US. Later with the advent of Ebay some import copies would sell for $100  and up! It still hasn't been released on cd in the US. I don't think you can even buy a download of the album. I think part of the appeal of the group is that it is so hard to obtain that first album on cd or in a true digital format!

I would assume Prince controls the album won't allow it's release since he had a falling out with some of the group members (Susannah and he broke up. She would go on to be married to musician Doyle Bramhall II for a while). St Paul went solo and did release a few major label cd's.

The fans fondness seem to have grown over the years (apparently famous fans include ?uestLove of the Roots). Eventually the band (minus Jerome) did reunite in 2009 and in 2011 even released a new cd!  Prince seems to be holding a grudge and won't let them use the name "the Family". (jeez!) 
So they are rechristened "FDeluxe" these days. 

Susannah says "I called and said I wanted to play him (Prince) the new record. He said he didn't want to hear it and not to use the name. He's not the most forgiving guy. He's just not".

FDeluxe website

The band is actually playing live (something they never got around to back in their original days.)

Locally they are opening for Sheila E at the Howard Theatre in Washington DC.

1 comment:

  1. I was a fan of the Family album when it came out. Originally had it on cassette and years later I finally found a CD copy. "Mutiny", "River Runs Dry" and "Nothing Compares 2 U" were all great.