Anatomy of THE Groove: “Just As Long As We’re Together” by Prince

 

Prince’s 1978 debut For You is an album that I’ve personally tended to give heavy props to. My friend Henrique has pointed this out many times. Whenever the album is written about,it’s generally described as technically flawless musically. But that the songs tend to plod on in repetitive jams that don’t come across to many as very listenable. One thing about it’s personal appeal here comes from this very quality. It showcases for sure that funk was the bedrock of Prince’s music,with his ability to stay squarely on the one. And that’s not even to mention how much of the Minneapolis Sound is already present here.

It does bare some degree of repeating however that ever since this blog has existed, Prince’s music has not been present on most areas of the internet. And on YouTube in particular. So there was no way to give Prince a proper musical overview by the use of this feature of the blog. Since that is awkwardly showing signs of changing,it is fitting to start discussing the individual songs from the For You album one at a time. There are a few numbers on this album that really helped reshape the face of funk for the coming decade. And one of them was called “Just As Long As We’re Together”.

A drum kick off gives way to a sustained ARP string ensemble showcasing some rolling Minneapolis synth brass over it for the intro. Another kick off brings the song into the uptempo dance beat of the song,underpinned by a percussive slap bass line all the way along. The chorus returns to the instrumentation and melodic sound of the intro-with an acapella break from Prince separating the refrain from the chorus. As with most of his earlier music,Prince’s sings most of this in his falsetto range. On the second refrain however,he drops into a softer version of his lower register he’d use later.

On the second half of the song,Prince plays the melody with a Carlos Santana-like crying tone on lead guitar before going into a hi hat/synth brass heavy drum break that leads into a more minor key version of the chorus. This evolves into Prince singing falsetto vocalese with the synth brass before the song strips down to the slap bass and ringing Afro-Cuban percussion. The synth brass gradually returns-playing continual call and response with Prince’s rapid fire bluesy guitar riffs. The synth brass plays some hot and heavy charts as the groove itself fades on into it’s own aurally purple sunset.

There’s been much talk about  how awkward it was for Prince to have all the instruments he played listed when half of them were keyboards of some sort. Instrumentally though,that very much defines this song. Structurally, “Just As Long As We’re Together” isn’t far removed from what melodic funk bands such as Earth Wind & Fire were doing at the time. The difference was the spacier flavors of the futurist synthesizers Prince had playing his horn charts. Prince’s ability to take a style of funk prevalent at the time and making it his own showcases his early adaptability with a good groove.

 

 

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5 Comments

Filed under 1970's, ARP string ensemble, drums, Funk, lead guitar, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Sound, percussion, Prince, rhythm guitar, slap bass, synth bass, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Anatomy of THE Groove: “Just As Long As We’re Together” by Prince

  1. Excellent write up! One unique thing about this jam is Prince actually plays a funky jam BY HIMSELF. Now in truth, people don’t realize many funk and rock and roll musicians in the multi tracking era are instrumentalists. This is usually easier to do when you lay down bass, drums, piano, and rhythm guitar as kind of a consistent bed/backing track. This gets much harder to do when you try to emulate the level of musical spontaneity, responsiveness, progression and synergy of a band of different people with different personalities playing together, and Prince did an excellent job here on the long “disco break.” Of course, the next go round he would immortalize this funky one man jam fade out on “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” As you point out very well, it shows the musical deftness of Prince at the earliest stage of his career, you can even hear him play a rising synth line similar to Ronald Bell’s solo in “Summer Madness,” and the synth riff reminds you of the twisting, more elaborate horn riffs of an EWF song like “Getaway!” Totally vital musical progression that you are one of the few to give its due!

    • Thank you for the comment! It really extended on Prince’s understanding of getting the instrumental fluidity of a full band using the multi tracking technique used by a multi instrumentalist such as himself.

  2. *multi instrumentalists, I wanted to correct, that there are many multi instrumentalists in music, but few of them play with the flexibility and multiple musical personalities of Prince.

  3. Kathleen

    Super write up!!! For You remains my personal favorite by virtue of the fact that it was my gateway to his music when a friend brought his brother’s album to school in 1978 when I was in 8th grade. The fact that it happens to be the opening salvo of a musical pioneer is breathtaking! All these years later to hear this particular song and have it feel as fresh and funky as it did all those years ago is a testament to his musical genius, in my humble opinion. His passing hurts me only because of what would have come from him in the future… no matter what is in the vault of unreleased music it was past the second he passed!

    • It’s so encouraging to see that other people, such as yourself,understand that the Minneapolis sound that set the music world with a brittle,funky fire in the early/mid 80’s was something Prince already had going when his career was just getting started at the end of the previous decade. I’m happy that this is realized by other people!

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