Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"The Screams of Passion" by The Family

Song#:  2482
Date:  09/28/1985
Debut:  75
Peak:  63
Weeks:  6
Genre:  R&B, Dance



Pop Bits:  In 1984, Morris Day and Jesse Johnson left Prince-developed band The Time after a successful run that including their appearance in the film Purple Rain. With only three members remaining in the Prince camp, the band basically disintegrated. Yet Prince wasn't done with his pet side project and decided to create a new band using the three remaining members. He brought in two new people to create the quintet he named The Family. Yet just like The Time, Prince used the band as an outlet for his own music and he wrote, produced, and played nearly every instrument on the songs intended for the new group. Prince would then just substitute his vocals with those of the band members and perhaps overdub and instrument line or two from them. The band, of course, would fully participate on their concert dates, just as The Time did. Six vocal tracks and two instrumentals make up The Family's self-titled debut album and this track was selected to be the first single. It did well at R&B (#9) and Dance (#10), but it couldn't get a real foothold on the Pop chart and fell off after a few weeks. A second single, "High Fashion," would get to #34 R&B and then that would be it for The Family. Lead singer St. Paul (aka Paul Peterson) chose to leave and after that, Prince just decided to fold the band for good.

ReduxReview:  Well, I guess it was good for Prince to use this off-shoot group to do his experiments instead of releasing them under his own name. A project like The Family allowed him to try out things before incorporating elements into his own recordings, such as the two jazzy instrumentals on the album. But like most experiments, not everything always works. This specific song was certainly a Prince track, but it sounded more like b-side filler. It's basically a single groove with a near-monotone melody that doesn't really go anywhere. The strings add some interest later in the song, but it just gets a bit boring after a while and I lose interest. The Family is an interesting artifact in the world of Prince, but didn't contain a lot of great material, save for one song (see below).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) One of the new band members was vocalist Susannah Melvoin. She was the twin sister of Revolution member Wendy Melvoin (also of Wendy & Lisa). After The Family was dissolved, Susannah continued to work with Prince over the years. She was also a songwriter and co-wrote a song with Prince ("Starfish and Coffee") and one with Madonna ("Candy Perfume Girl").  2) The Family actually became more famous later on for a song that first appeared on their album. "Nothing Compares 2 U" was written by Prince and recorded for The Family. Vocal overdubs by Family members St. Paul and Susannah Melvoin would be added later along with the string arrangement. The song was not issued out as a single and it would have just disappeared had it not been for an Irish singer that found and recorded a version of the tune. Sinéad O'Connor's debut album The Lion and the Cobra was an unexpected gold selling hit in 1987. As she prepped her second album a couple years later, it was suggested to O'Connor that she cover "Nothing Compares 2 U." She did and it was released as a single in 1990. It quickly became a worldwide #1 smash and the song's associated video won Video of the Year at the MTV Video Awards. It took folks a long while to realize it was originally a Prince-penned tune done by The Family, whose album had been out of print for years. Due to the success of the song, The Family's album would be reissued in several countries. Prince's own original recording of the song would be issued out in 2018 following the superstar's death.

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