Here's a free preview of a new compilation album that celebrates the talents of the pre-Prince Twin Cities funk scene – including Prince himself.
Assembled with TLC by the vintage-soul-loving Numero Group — the Chicago label responsible for last year’s reissue of the lost Minneapolis classic “The Lewis Connection” — the 32 tracks on this two-CD (or four-LP) set are like hopping a ride on the Mothership to 1974-1984, before Prince and the Time put “the Minneapolis Sound” on the pop culture map.
But as the album notes put it, that sound “was not entirely the invention of the prince who became the city’s most famous citizen; it was instead a perfect storm of individuals and influences.”
Some of those are well-known, like Jimmy Jam Harris and Terry Lewis, represented here with their groups Flyte Time and Mind & Matter. Prince is here, too, as the precocious autodidact playing with 94 East, the Lewis Connection and the Family (on a track credited to "Music, Love & Funk" that features his future NPG bassist Sonny Thompson).
Others, like Alexander O’Neal, Rockie Robbins and Sue Ann Carwell, found at least brief moments in the spotlight. And then there are groups like Haze, Cohesion, Prophets of Peace and Aura, which are distant memories at best. No matter, they’re all sharing the same stage again.
There will be a listening party Thursday at 5:30-8 p.m. at First Avenue’s Depot Tavern, just steps from the room where Prince first showed off those “Baby I’m a Star” dance moves. Jon Kirby, who curated this compilation, will be there -- with copies of the new collection, of course -- along with some of the music makers.