Monday, November 18, 2013

Prince "Cindy C"

There it was.  A little piece of legend wrapped in plastic.  And I didn't have the money to buy it.

I headed back to my college dorm, knowing who I had to talk to.

"You aren't going to believe what I saw downtown."

"What?" he said.  He was the kind of guy who believed he was cool, so he acted cool, nonchalant.  But I knew his interest was piqued.

"The fucking BLACK album!"

He knew what I was talking about, immediately.  And he knew what it meant.

I'd gone straight to him, because he was a fan of Prince, like me.

And we'd talked about the mythical Black Album before.

Word was that just weeks before its intended release, it was pulled from production.  Few copies existed.  Some stories said that Prince thought the record was too dark.  Other stories had it that the record label had found it too vulgar.

Whatever the reason, it was not in stores.  Until now.

Trolling through the import LPs at a downtown Amherst record shop, I found it.  Like the Spinal Tap record that shares its name (and predates it by several years), the record was as black as black could be, with only a small sticker to indicate that this was a Prince release.

It was an "import" suggesting that it had been released in Europe.  But more likely it was a bootleg.

And it cost $30.

I didn't have thirty dollars.  But I knew someone who would want the record as badly as I did.

"And there's only one copy," I told him.

We made our way back downtown, post-haste, ready to split the cost of owning a rare and profane piece of art.

Neither of us actually owned a record player.

But a guy down the hall did.

He let us sit in his room and listen, so long as we did it one at a time, using headphones so he could keep studying.  I got to go first.

I'd heard a few things about the contents of the record.  Like, there was a dirty tune about his lust for Cindy Crawford.  And that it was funkier than anything he'd released recently.  And that he was dabbling in rap.  And he'd done all kinds of crazy things to electronically alter his voice.

Like in the song "Bob George," where he talks (rhythmically) to a woman he suspects is cheating on him, with Prince.

I listened as the beats flew by and his voice was amped up, lyrics tumbling by at an over-caffeinated pace.  I could hear him saying some nasty shit, but a lot of it was too altered and garbled for me to pick out.

As side one was drawing to an unrelenting close, my co-owner stuck his head in the door.

"How's it sound?" he asked coolly, but with an undertone of eagerness.

"Great," I enthused.  "But he's doing some crazy stuff with his voice.  And its short too.  Side One is about to end and I've only been listening for 10 minutes."

My friend looked at the turntable, and, trying to remain cool and nonchalant, while injecting a slight tone of both disdain and glee, said:

"You don't play an LP at 45.  You're listening at the wrong speed."

Cindy C. by Prince on Grooveshark
Bob George by Prince on Grooveshark

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