The Family – The Family (1985)

The Family is a band formed by Prince, and one of the first signed to his record label, Paisley Park Records. The band reformed as fDeluxe in 2009.

the family

The band’s origins started with the disintegration of The Time in 1984. Lead singer Morris Day had left the band to pursue a solo career and guitarist Jesse Johnson became the de facto band leader. Prince suggested restructuring the band with new member Paul Peterson to head the group, but Johnson opposed. However, like Day, Johnson soon left the band to pursue his own solo career. A few of The Time’s newer members followed Johnson to join his backing band (called Jesse Johnson’s Revue).

As the band had served as an outlet for Prince to release more music, he wanted to continue this avenue, inviting the remaining members of The Time, Jellybean Johnson, Jerome Benton, and Paul Peterson, to his home and presented them with his new project. They agreed to become a new band called The Family, with Peterson renamed “St. Paul” as the new frontman and bassist. Johnson and Benton reprised their familiar roles from The Time. To the mix, Prince added Susannah Melvoin, the twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin, as a backing singer and keyboardist. The fifth member was Eric Leeds, the brother of Prince’s tour manager Alan Leeds, who provided saxophone and flute. Guitarist Miko Weaver is credited in the album’s booklet because he was to be a session player and tour musician band supporter, but was never officially part of the band.

Much like The Time, the band’s material was composed nearly entirely by Prince, with the exception of “River Run Dry,” which was written by Revolution drummer Bobby Z. Prince wrote and performed all the other tracks and simply overdubbed Peterson’s and Melvoin’s vocals and added saxophone and flute by Leeds. On several tracks Prince’s vocals can be clearly heard. Some of the original demos have surfaced as bootlegs and circulate among fans with Prince’s original lead vocals, as well as two outtakes: the instrumental “Feline” and the pop song “Miss Understood”. As on other associates’ albums, Prince falsely gave credit to the various band members for writing credits, though he kept his name on “Nothing Compares 2 U“. The tracks were all recorded in a few weeks’ span at the end of the year 1984 after Prince had finished sessions for Around the World in a Day, and just before he started to record music for Sheila E.‘s album Romance 1600 and his own album Parade.

The album itself is a mix of uptempo funk songs (“High Fashion”, “Mutiny”), unconventional soul ballads (“Nothing Compares 2 U”, “Desire”), jazz-funk instrumental tracks (“Yes”, “Susannah’s Pajamas”) and New Wave songs (“The Screams of Passion”, “River Run Dry”). “The Screams of Passion” was released as the first single from the album. MTV placed the video for the song in light rotation. “High Fashion” was the second single, but no video was made.

Although the band performed a single concert, released their self-titled album and only two singles (of which the music video (“The Screams of Passion”) shows Eric Leeds playing bass because this particular track contained no saxophone), the project turned out to be short-lived. Peterson felt constricted by Prince’s control and opted to pursue his own career. Without a lead singer, Prince lost interest and absorbed most of the remaining members into the expanded Revolution (with the exception of Johnson, who went on to join the Flyte Time music production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis).

Prince often incorporated the Family track “Mutiny” into the setlist of his 1986 tour, which occasionally was extended to contain the chorus of “Dream Factory” and the chant “St. Paul – punk of the month!” The album sold poorly upon its release and has been out of print in any form since the late 1980s in the United States. A compact disc version was printed in Germany in the early 1990s and is highly valued among Prince fans and collectors.

Tracklist

1.  “High Fashion”   – 5:06
2.  “Mutiny”   – 3:57
3.  “The Screams of Passion”   – 5:26
4.  “Yes”  (Prince and Eric Leeds)  – 4:27
5.  “River Run Dry”  (Bobby Z.)  – 3:31
6.  “Nothing Compares 2 U”  –  4:31
7.  “Susannah’s Pajamas”  (Prince and Eric Leeds)  – 3:58
8.  “Desire”   – 4:58

All songs written and composed by Prince, except where noted.

Companies, etc.

Credits

Notes

Released:  August 19, 1985
Recorded:  1984 – Paisley Park
Genre:  Electronic, Jazz, Funk / Soul
Style:  Fusion, Funk
Length:  36:00

Label – Paisley Park Records

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