July 2021 Book of the Month

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Prince on stage, Detroit, 1984
Opening night of Purple Rain tour

Prince and the Parade and Sign “O” the Times Era Studio Sessions 1985 to 1986

by Duane Tudahl

Prince and the Parade & Sign o’ the Times Era Studio Sessions: 1985 and 1986 by Duane Tudahl

Genre: Nonfiction/Pop Music

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

Release date: June 10, 2021

This is the second in a series of Studio Sessions books, by author Duane Tudahl, that focus on scintillating showman and musician Prince. Tudahl’s debut book, Prince and the Purple Rain Era Studio Sessions: 1983 and 1984, was published in 2017. Like with the first book, in this newest installment—Prince and the Parade & Sign o’ the Times Era Studio Sessions: 1985 and 1986—blocks of text are dated like diary entries with details down to the most minute, as the author chronologically retraces Prince’s trail of activities during a window of time when he was recording Parade and Sign o’ the Times, the musician’s eighth and ninth studio albums.

Prince didn’t record live albums until later in his career, but the reader learns he frequently felt inspired to record while touring and often rented studio space even if he had only a few hours in between live shows. One can’t help but see the parallels in Prince’s obsessive drive to create and that of this author, who tirelessly tracks down the details of Prince’s professional life to commemorate the artist’s recordings and performances of the mid-eighties.

The book has an almost encyclopedic quality in the depth of its research, but note that the minutia is not excruciatingly rote, as Tudahl buoys content with authentic quotes from those in Prince’s inner circle. The firsthand accounts fill its pages with pieces of content that, stitched together seamlessly, create a soulful fabric that showcases the humanity and heart infused in Prince’s unique style of funk ’n’ rock.

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The author pulled some of the quotes from other sources, which are marked with end notes that are meticulously outlined in the book’s back matter. But many of the quotes are original to interviews Tudahl conducted with Prince’s personal and professional associates, such as sound engineer Gary Platt, who describes being in the studio with Prince after a live show in Cincinnati:

“We got there and it was 3 o’clock in the morning. Prince had played a show, and then waited on his bus outside the studio. We were ready to go by 7:30, 8. He came in probably about 8 o’clock. In the meantime, I thought, ‘Oh boy we’ve got a bad cable on this mic, it’s crackling.’ I went over and was changing the mic cable and plugged it in and someone came in, sat down and played the piano, that happens all the time. So, I plugged it in and he just kind of sideways kicked me, I was down on my knees almost and he kicked me, and I fell over. And I said, ‘It’s nice to meet you too,’ and kind of got a laugh. And he said, ‘I thought you said it’d be ready.’ I looked up and it was Prince, and I said, ‘Well it’s ready now.’ And he was like, ‘Well all right, let’s get going.’ It was funny.”

The book is loaded with these types of personal anecdotes that promise the reader an all-access pass to insider flashbacks of what it was like to perform and record with Prince. Similar in its narrative approach, the first book was so well-received that Tudahl is now employed as an archivist for Prince’s estate. Tudahl is by profession an experienced documentary filmmaker, with impressive credits that include the History Channel, Discovery, and dozens of other entertainment outlets. It’s tough to say if Tudahl’s second book will exceed the success of his first, but this blogger is definitely hoping to see a documentary.

—Kelly White, host, “The Word with an Inquisitive Booknerd,” a Harford County Living podcast

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