Party Like It's the Atlantic Center
- Published: Thursday, 12 May 2016 22:48
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So back in the Anomaly days we got into this really good habit where, if we had a gig on a Saturday, we would meet at the rehearsal space first, like 8 or 9 o'clock before an 11PM show. After we instituted this practice, we started playing especially well at shows, as you might imagine. So one Saturday evening in August of '98 we had a gig at the Orange Bear, which was a Russian Art Bar that we played at a lot. (They gave us our first gig and many others... we could usually get gigs there without too much difficulty. It was our fallback place if the CBGBs of the world were rejecting us. A guy named Victor ran the place and he was generally nice to us. There was always wacky colorful art on the wall which I took to be of Russian or Russian-American origin.)
I came into the rehearsal studio this one summer Saturday evening with a mischievous idea. As I mentioned last time the song "Atlantic Center" closed with this longish one-chord jam-outro. We'd been playing this song for over a year, so it was ready for a shot in the arm. My idea was that in the middle of our normal jammy thing, we should play a verse from "1999." I'm not much of a Prince fan, as some people may know, so it just seemed like a fun, out-of-left field idea. A musical non-sequitur, if you will. When I was in college my friend Evan Brubaker had a band called Groovallegiance which used to play some funky stuff like "1999", a song I'm forgetting by The Time... most of my Prince associations (that do not involve hating hearing too much "When the Doves Cry" in freshman year of high school) are about Evan. Evan made me think maybe Prince was worth some of my Time (eventually I bought the love symbol album and liked a few things). But this non-sequitur inevitably had a joke to it. Back then, it was nearly 1999... but not quite. so, the temptation was too great. A tiny lyrical change allowed me to sing about the current year. I was giddy with this idea....though I'm not even sure I told the guys about this beforehand (they never listened to the words anyway; you couldn't heard them.)
We start the song out with a funky feel, the first of 2 early harbingers for the secret at the end. To the initiated (that rare breed), it doesn't sound like we're playing the Atlantic Center. I like the nice little snips I play on my Micromoog...I think I had just gotten it back from the shop. Then Brian takes us into the Atlantic Center, slightly slower than usual, more lumbering. This recording has nice balance -- you can hear the vocals well, amidst all the parts. It's a solid performance of this number. We play the jammy part practically to its normal length, before a sudden shift in feel. The transition into the Prince section is a little loose, but I like the busy, funky riff that Matt plays under "1999." Eddy's got his funk-hat on too -- very busy. The feel is different than Prince's version, it works though. We tried it once in the warmup and then just said "what the hell, give it a whirl". It was fun. The return to the Coda of the "Atlantic Center" riff is nice and crisp. We weren't sure how long to take to get into 1999, but once the verse was done we knew exactly where to get off (Brian really leads it here.) Matt summarizes his solo, as if catching us up on the narrative and then slightly rushes us to the final statement of Centrality. I have always been pleased with how the ensemble vanishes from under the guitar on the final riff, like Wile E. Coyote suddenly discovering no ground beneath him.
I have to thank my lovely wife Maria who is responsible for most of the bootleg recordings I have of Anomaly (probably all of them.) She used my little stereo cassette recording walkman, which my dad got me for Christmas in the early-to-mid-90s.
...so that's my little tribute to the late, great Prince R Nelson.