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July 2016 Issue - Prince Tribute Special CD

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With every death of a hero now, there are new rituals to undertake. A trip to Youtube for a favourite song, a quick link across social media channels so that, as was the case with David Bowie a few short months ago, Twitter and Facebook become emotionally curated greatest hits streams. On April 21, a little stunned, I went on such a quest, ostensibly in pursuit of "The Ladder", a song from my favourite Prince album (Around The World In A Day) which seemed sentimentally apposite for the moment. Like countless others, I was confounded: it was as if Prince had somehow erased his records from the internet's sharing platforms, just as Radiohead made themselves disappear for a day or two at the start of May.

The death of Prince and the arrival of Radiohead's ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool, have acted as strange bookends to another momentous four weeks in music history. It would be a stretch to try and find much of a unifying theme here. Prince's life deserves to be celebrated in depth, and Radiohead's new music deserves to be considered over time - hence our decision to let David Cavanagh write the sort of definitive memorial at which he is becoming all too sadly adept, and to wait a month until we wrestle with the complexities of A Moon Shaped Pool in earnest.

Still, there is an odd and poignant connection between the two. Prince's assiduous policing of his music on Youtube might have meant that his studio work was hard to find on April 21. But a few live clips came to the surface there and were shared enthusiastically, none more so than a film of him performing at the Coachella Festival in 2008. The song is not one of his myriad classics but a cover - Radiohead's "Creep", transformed into a kind of slowburning blues anthem, unlikely kin of "Purple Rain". It is, to put it mildly, a weird fit: a genius, who never had much practical use for modesty, reciting the ur-text of self-pity. "In real life," David Cavanagh writes, "Prince never allowed himself to be viewed as a loser. Not once."

If he wanted to, of course, he could present himself as anything, could do anything, untethered by the stereotypes of genre, gender, race, faith and whatever other rules we might have tried - and failed - to apply. As our interviews this issue with his close collaborators prove, Prince played all day and all night, insatiably. He would beat everyone at basketball by 20 points. He would visit the Netherlands, and want to buy a windmill. And he left behind some of the most extravagant and enduring music of the last 35 years. "I used to refer to Paisley Park as the playground," soundman Cubby Colby tells us. "The purple dove was in the cage, the coffee pot was on. It was a special time…"

Colvin & Earle – Tell Moses
Robert Ellis – How I Love You
Jackie Lynn – Alien Love
Whitney – No Woman
Allen Toussaint – Mardi Gras In New Orleans
Brigid Mae Power – It’s Clearing Now
William Tyler – Gone Clear
The Felice Brothers – Plunder
Fiona Brice – Berlin
Case/Lang/Veirs – Atomic Number
Holger Czukay – Cool In The Pool
The Low Anthem – In the Air Hockey Fire
Tony Joe White – Hoochie Woman
Swans – When Will I Return?
My Morning Jacket - Mahgeetah