Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Many authors have tried to assemble the puzzle that is the life and death of Prince; novelist and frequent music-bio cowriter (Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove; I Am Brian Wilson) Greenman has assembled a complete if slightly blurred image. This book is a thorough analysis of the music of Prince/The Symbol and readers (from the casual to the ardent fan) will view the music/performances through the lens of increased insight after reading. Although the biographical information is scant, it is effective in its brevity and foreshadows the making of the megastar whose star burns just as brilliantly after his 2016 death at age 57. Greenman cleverly dispenses slivers of Prince's personal life to whet the appetites of those hungry for biographic information while leading readers to draw their own conclusions about its influence on his music. A fitting homage to the legacy of an artist whose body of work and persona remain a study in contrasts (overt sexuality/social commentary and masculinity draped in lace and heels) that continues to question the "who" and "why" of the man, the mystery and his music. Verdict Greenman's writing is both personal and profound from the equal perspectives of fan and scholar. An excellent addition to the Prince compendium.-Tamela Chambers, Chicago Pub. Schs. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Part fan's notes and part cultural criticism, music journalist Greenman's absorbing and entertaining study of Prince and his music compellingly underscores the Purple One's enduring contributions to pop music. After he buys his first Prince album-1999-in 1982, Greenman becomes obsessed with the music, waiting anxiously at the local record store for every new album and discovering that Prince is, among other things, a "jazz-age sweetie, spiritual pilgrim, sexual puppeteer." Greenman chronicles Prince's life from his childhood up through the earliest moments of his career, but and he peers into the sources of Prince's inspiration as well as the many themes that appear constantly in his music, such as sex, virtue and sin, and race and politics. Greenman also considers the reasons that Prince changed his name in 1993-in part as a ploy to retrieve his masters from Warner Brothers-and his frustration with the Internet as a method for delivering his music. Prince's genius is on full display here as Greenman remarks on his prolific music virtuosity, putting out an album once a year, and his obsessive dedication to saving every little scrap of his writing and recording to use again. Greenman's brilliant book celebrates a musician who crammed substance into every corner of his music. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From his earliest appearances in the Minneapolis club scene dressed in bikini briefs and knee-high boots to opening for the Rolling Stones, on through massive success with Purple Rain (1984) and the superstardom that followed, the artist known as Prince was famous for virtuoso guitar-shredding and falsetto vocals, James Brown dance moves, flamboyant attire, and racy lyrics. Though sensual, singular, and idiosyncratic, Prince didn't come out of a vacuum: he incorporated the influences of Brown, George Clinton, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, and others, borrowing their best qualities and synthesizing them into something truly original. As much a fan boy as an authority, rock journalist Greenman (I Am Brian Wilson, 2016) investigates Prince's development as an artist, his career trajectory, his massive creative output, and his numerous side projects. He sifts through Prince minutiae in an almost savant-like way, parses the lyrics for meaning, decodes the Princified spellings, revealing a mastery of Prince's catalog, including B-sides, bootlegs, concert and television appearances, and unreleased items buried in the vault at Paisley Park. One doesn't have to be a Princeophile to enjoy this celebration of the artist, but it helps.--Segedin, Ben Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A satisfying portrait, warts included, of the Purple One, one-time heir to the thrones of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix alike.Readers approaching a biography of Prince Rogers Nelson (1958-2016) are likely to take as a given that the subject was one of the great musical geniuses of history. If they are not, then New Yorker contributor Greenmanthe as-told-to author of Questlove's well-received memoir Mo' Meta Blues (2013), among other nonfiction and fictionis prepared to recite the artist's bona fides: from his breakthrough album of 1980, "Dirty Mind," to the 1989 soundtrack to Batman, Prince "rarely if ever put a foot wrong," and from "1999" to "Sign O' the Times," a period including the definitive "Purple Rain," he was "perfect, the equivalent of Bob Dylan from 1965 to 1969, the Rolling Stones from 1968 to 1972, Talking Heads from 1980 to 1985, or Public Enemy from 1988 to 1991." Big shoes, all those, for the diminutive, sometimes-litigious, and decidedly eccentric artist to fill, but Greenman makes his case at leisureand convincingly. Moreover, he notes, Prince remained an experimenter throughout, one of the great masters of the recording studio who had an archivist's talent for tucking away even the tiniest of musical scraps, for which reason we're likely to have Prince albums well into the future. Sometimes Greenman's enthusiasm melts into diffusiveness, as when he invokes the psychological theory of flow to discuss Prince's creative processes; sometimes it gets a little silly, as when, writing of Prince's household staff, he notes, "a pixie did his laundry and the universe, his will." Still, the author avoids most of the worst clichs of music writing, and it's clear that he knows and appreciates music at large as well as his immediate topic. Likely not the definitive book on Prince, but certainly one that merits attention by fans and students of pop culture alike. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.