I got a large shipment from the Prince Store today with my long awaited copies of The Rainbow Children, One Nite Alone, One Nite Alone…Live!, and One Nite Alone…The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over! on vinyl. I’m in vinyl heaven right now getting a deep dive in to all of this Prince stuff from an era that I haven’t taken enough time to familiarize with. The packaging and presentation of The Rainbow Children is beautiful. The colorful artwork deserves to be displayed on a vinyl sleeve. The included booklet with liner notes and lyrics is also colorful and an enjoyable supplement to the album. To top it off, it was a clever move by the Prince Estate to press The Rainbow Children on perfectly clear vinyl and give a rainbow themed slipmat to put underneath the vinyl. It makes for a unique spinning rainbow visual while you’re listening to the album.
Today is not about my new vinyl even though that’s what I’m listening to. Today belongs to a sleeper Prince favorite of mine: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis).” Let’s start with the story behind the song. On September 12, 1995, Lenny Kravitz released his album, Circus, featuring the lead single “Rock and Roll is Dead.” For the record, I dig that song. “Rock and Roll is Dead” was released as a single in late-July of 1995, so it’s unclear to me whether Prince just didn’t hear it until the day the album was released or if he waited for dramatic effect. Regardless, Prince went in to the studio on September 12 and recorded “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive! (And It Lives In Minneapolis).” The very next day the song was premiered on Minneapolis radio. The song was never included on an album, but was the B-side to “Gold,” the second single from Prince’s 1995 album The Gold Experience.
The song itself is crazy infectious. It’s a party from start to finish. Once again, if I lived in Minneapolis I think this would’ve been my theme song for the past 25 years. I’d play it every time I got in my car, entered a room, went to a party, etc. What strikes me about the song other than the insane level of energy is the room Prince gave for solos at the end of the song. Usually a party song like this doesn’t feature a funky extended bass solo.
The video is unique to me if only because Prince is wearing a Minnesota Vikings Starter jacket. How often do you see Prince in something that wasn’t made for him by a designer? Did he just go to Target that morning and grab the jacket? My burning hatred for the Vikings aside, it’s cool to see Prince in (mostly) civilian clothes repping his state. Those furry white boots weren’t from Target or the NFL shop catalog. His wife, Mayte, makes frequent appearances in the video and gets credit as a background vocalist even though I’m pretty sure she just yells, “SING,” throughout the song. The guy with the gigantic purple keytar is back in this video, which makes me very happy. I also did some research and found out that giant keytar guy has a name, and it’s Tommy Barbarella. Shout out to him. Barbarella must’ve been athletic as hell because he’s all over the place with that giant keytar. He and Tuba Gooding Jr. from The Roots should tour the country completing musical and athletic feats with their bulky instruments.
Now, a quick personal story about this song before I sign off. In March of 2019 the Minnesota Timberwolves announced they’d be giving away an exclusive 7″ purple vinyl of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive (And It Lives In Minneapolis)” at their game on Friday, April 5, against the Miami Heat. This combines two of my favorite things: Prince and the NBA. The Target Center, home of the T’Wolves, is almost exactly four hours from my house. I asked my guy Dave Evans if he’d join me. He’s an NBA fan, but also a D Wade fanatic, and this would be an opportunity to see him play live one more time before retirement. We take a Friday afternoon off, cruise to the Twin Cities, watch an NBA game, get a Prince record, then either find a place to crash for the night or drive home. Dave wasn’t completely sold, but I felt he could be convinced. I was fully prepared to do all of this to get my hands on this 7″ Prince record…and see a T’Wolves game at the Target Center, which would’ve also been cool…but mostly it was for the Prince record. Long story short, we bailed on the idea because we ended up having my daughter’s birthday party that night. I went on eBay a few hours after Lucy’s party and got a copy of the record for $40 including shipping. It was cheaper, but the road trip would’ve been a much better story. I admire Dave for even entertaining my idiotic idea.
With that, I end today’s post. I give “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Alive (And It Lives In Minneapolis)” 3.5 out of 5 stars. Once again, love and respect to all of the people fighting for justice and equality in Minneapolis and all over the world. Rest in peace, George Floyd. Be safe out there, everyone.